From coin-toss to urn in just 15 days: it was all over a bit fast, wasn’t it? What about all the stuff we were thought we’d see?
The reverse swing nemesis strikes: I still have a photo of me and my school-friend Simon Jones at the zoo in which Simon is caught part-way through the process of being eaten by a pelican. We were friends briefly, but I don’t miss him as much as I missed the chance to see the other Simon Jones bowl in Australia.
The reverse-swinging maestro of 2005 blew out of the 2002/3 Ashes with an exploded knee, the same knee that has seen him miss every Test since last year. But the memory of the physics-defying swing that earned him six wickets at Old Trafford makes you wonder what magic he might have performed on a humid afternoon in Brisbane.
Freddie enjoys himself: When England captain Andrew Flintoff picked up Matthew Hayden to claim the first wicket of the Ashes, he roared like a lion, and we all thought: here we go. Captain, key batsman, strike bowler: he’s really going to pull it off.
He couldn’t. The boyish Flintoff was gone by the end of day two, with England 3 for 53 chasing 602 and the looming prospect of being an England captain who lost the Ashes but never won them. That spectre possessed Freddie in Perth, transforming him into merely the latest in a long line of sad English skippers dragging pathos into the inevitable depressing press conference.
Australian fan culture comes of age: When you think of England cricket fans, you think of trumpeters, synchronised semaphore and the haunting lilt of You’re Sh-t And You Know It.
Cast around for reports of Australian fan behaviour, and you get mostly stuff like Sajid Mahmood having his nationality called into question by a lone Aussie in Brisbane. Racism is hardly endemic to the Antipodes – you’re not going to tell me the Barmy Army discusses Proust up there – but if we had something more genuine than Greg Champion’s chant songbook, it wouldn’t stick out so much.