Last night I awoke drenched in sweat, heart pounding, eyelids fluttering. Deep inside the cavernous space of my mind the dream lingered still. A dream which saw me receive a letter upon my 24th birthday. Embossed with a ruby red seal in the shape of an ‘H’ I tore it open with feverish intent. The text written in spindly handwriting began… ‘Dear Mr Whitto, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…’ And that is where the dream ended.

But was it a dream? It all felt so real. 

*Clang* There goes the letterbox. Bear with me a second and I’ll fetch it. Gasp! In amongst the obligatory bills and take away menus lies the letter from my dream. Let’s open it together and read what lessons I may learn at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

1) History Of Magic

Our lessons begin with a historic moment in the wizarding world. Forget Quidditch, the true sport of witches and wizards is far more surreal. If you thought flying on a broomstick searching for a teeny golden ball was crazy, you clearly haven’t watched a sport for five days, only for it to end in a draw! Oh yes – wizards love cricket. Particularly those who inhabit India which this week has significant cause for celebration. For the first time in the history of magic the Indian cricket team have won a series in Australia. Expelliarmus me that!

Led by Minister of Magic Virat Kohli, India dismantled a nervy looking Aussie unit. Dark wizard catcher Jasprit Bumrah ran amok amongst the Death Eaters. 21 times Bumrah stupefied those Australian batsmen, who defended their stumps with a stick of wood which had closer resemblance to a wand than a thick cricket bat. Shaun Marshlfoy only had one score over 40.

Even trusted Igor Hazlewoodkoff, Barty Starc Junior and Patrix Lestrange-Cummins suffered at the heroic wand tip of Pujara. Conjuring all his spells, Kohli’s number three scored 521 runs, reaching three centuries. Clearly the hardened battlegrounds of Oz are more his Hogwarts than the green fringed pitches of England. With patience and assurance Pujara was undoubtedly the chosen one.

As Day 5 of the final test was rained off, history was made for King Kohli’s cloaked wizards. Beating Australia on home soil is no mean feat. As for the Aussies, they’ll be desperate for their villain to return. Even if Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft prove an ability at test level, the malignant fighting attitude can only be brought back by one man. Tim Pettigrew-Paine must travel to the desolate graveyard and sacrifice his hand for the rebirth of Lord Warnerdemort…

2) Defence Against The Dark Arts

A subject which instead of teaching promising wizards and witches defensive spells, suffers from an ever changing merry go round of teachers. From poor stuttering Professor Quirrell to punishing madwoman Dolores Umbridge, nobody stays long. There have been werewolves, Death Eaters and narcissistic conmen. And you know what the every changing faces remind us of? The Australian batting line up!

Selectors Greg Chappell and Trevor Hohns today revealed their side for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka In the face of parental outcry they’ve ditched the brothers Marsh. Which is unsurprising given Mitch hasn’t scored a century since The Ashes and Shaun recently registered seven consecutive single digit innings. Their batting is about as comical as Fred and George’s jokes. Also expelled is Peter Handscomb, a player who’s up and down more times than Ron and Hermione’s relationship. Likewise suffering a spell in Azkaban is Aaron Finch who was dropped after averaging 16 in three tests against India.

Replacing them are players who Hohns believes are the new Order of the Phoenix. Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw; returning to the order after being distrusted as Death Eater spies. One will have the pleasure of opening with Marcus Harris, the only illuminating flame from the recent lost series. Also given a risky call up is Will Pucovski, a 20 year old who averages 49 in eight First Class matches. Let’s hope his Lockhart looks are backed up by a truthful reality.

Finally suffering from the Cruciatus Curse is Glenn Maxwell who everyone seems to hate. Even though on Sheffield Shield numbers he’s the second best batsman. Always longing for the job but never getting it? Sounds a bit like Severus doesn’t it? Your time will come eventually Glenn…

3) Herbology

Screaming Mandrake style curses as he boards the plane home is Joe Root, who this week finished his stay in the Big Bash. More underwhelming than Neville, Root was truly abysmal. At no point did he justify the price tag on his diminutive shoulders. Instead, playing for the Sydney Thunder Rooty managed only 99 runs in seven innings, with a highest score of 26.

Averaging 14.14, Joe should bury in his face in the earthy plant pot, before he joins up with his England squad. This is precisely the reason why he doesn’t feature for England in T20’s. Grab him by the roots class and repack him in test match infused soil.

In contrast Jos Buttler light up the competition like Professor Sprout on the lash in Hogsmeade. Whirling this way and that, belting sixes at the top of his lungs, this was a cavorting display by the gentle giant. 272 from his seven knocks is almost as impressive as the time Sprouty downed 272 Butterbeers in a row. Never mind she threw up after two and had to be carried home by Flitwick. (Who incidentally did not return to his room that night…) Losing Jos will be a sore headache blow for Thunder, particularly when you consider his replacement is Chris Jordan.

That’s like swapping Dumbledore for Dedalus Diggle… True Potter fans that’s for you!

4) Care Of Magical Creatures

Our penultimate lesson for this wizarding special comes in looking after magical creatures. From hippogriffs to Hungarian Horntails there’s an eclectic mix of creatures we look after. Some are noble and pure, like Buckbeak. Others slow and restful like Fluffy. Whilst there are those who send shivers down your spine and make you look away in disgust, such as Flesh Eating Slugs.

Or talkSport as we like to call them!

Oh yes, those oozing insects have once again bagged the rights to England overseas commentaries. Following on from the Sri Lanka tour, Mark Nicholas and co will be sunning themselves over in India during 2020-2021. Consequently they have overseas rights for all England tours over the next twelve months. Superb. Drawing on their vast resources of galleons (wizard gold) talkSport outbid the BBC, who thankfully already have the next two Ashes series Down Under already safely in vault 713.

Perhaps we’re being unfair. After all mixing insight with humour over in Sri Lanka wasn’t all that bad was it? Nicholas is a steady Kinglsey Shacklebolt, Jarrod Kimber offers the ‘bloody hell’ giggles we expect from Ronald and Bumble/ Athers/ substitute sky pundit here bring the presence. Like Hagrid. But please, on all the horcruxes and hallows in the world do not continue with Gareth Batty. The man is a squib. A whining, self-satisfied drawl which has to be stopped. If we bless your venture talkSport, then please Avada Kedavra Batty the fuck out of there!

5) Charms

Finally this week a spot of charms to send you on the way. Because you’ll be ‘charmed’ to know that we at HFAL have opened the Chamber of Secrets. No, don’t panic. There’s no basilisk or spectral Riddle down there, only 50 witty podcast episodes which are longing to burst free. With 2019 being a celebratory year in the wizarding/ cricket world, we’re releasing old podcast episodes each day through January and February. All you have to do is follow us on Twitter and you can hear shows from 2017! It really is about as exciting as when JK Rowling revealed the Cursed Child play…

(It’s pronounced Howzat Histories didn’t you know, not Howzat ‘istories.)

On that note we reach the end of our Harry Potter inspired lessons learned. After all it does not do well to dwell on dreams (hilarious cricket articles) and forget how to live does it? Homework is to find happiness even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. Failing that, watch the series! I’m off to the Leaky Cauldron. Class dismissed!