'Oh my, what a debacle it has been! They might has well have been playing in chinos, so relentlessly village has it been,' writes Scott Oliver after the Ashes Down Under.
The previous time England clapped eyes on one of Kipling's twin imposters – Triumph, in case you'd forgotten – they all got rather giddy and a few of them ended up taking a wee wee-wee on the Oval square, which was officially 4.2 times more heinous than the MPs expenses scandal.
Four months later and, whaddayaknow, the other bugger turns up: Mr Disaster – brash, blonde, wearing zinc cream, and forever scuttling to the dunny 'cos of his prodigious consumption of tinnies.
Oh my, what a debacle it has been! They might has well have been playing in chinos, so relentlessly village has it been. However, as the sage Mr Kipling counseled: 'Would you like a slice of Bakewell tart to take the pain away?' He also said (and I paraphrase), there's no good reaching for the happy juice just cos you've won a game of cricket.
So, in the interests of remaining philosophical, we sat in as Murray Darling (of The Fanatics) had a post-series yabber to Frank Wisdom (not of the Barmy Army or splinter group, the Divvy Civvies):
<b>Murray Darling</b>: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!!! Oi! Oi! Oi!
<b>Frank Wisdom</b>: Fair do's. Best team won.
<b>Murray</b>: Ya reckon, Frank? Sheesh, I dunno mate. It was pretty tight for a minute back there. Seriously though, mate: are you even gonna let these fellas back in the country? Absolute disgrace. I've seen more ticker on a blow-up doll.
<b>Frank</b>: It hasn't been pretty.
<b>Murray</b>: Aren't you ashamed to be English?
<b>Frank</b>: I am, but it has nothing to do with the cricket team.
<b>Murray</b>: Fair go, if I were you I'd be feeling totally humiliated, violently angry.
<b>Frank</b>: I am. Again, though: nowt to do with the cricket.
<b>Murray</b>: I'd want heads to roll. Everything was pretty-bloody-ok-thank-you-very-much for you fellas back in August. Now? I wouldn't back you against Bangla-bloody-desh, to be fair.
<b>Frank</b>: Where we playin' 'em?
<b>Murray</b>: Nah, fair go: you're not that bad. But what's gone wrong? It can't all be down to us blokes having a coach who takes two smokoes a session while your guys look like they need permission to have a piss. Men against choir boys.
<b>Frank</b>: You've hit the nail on the head, lad. I knew it were all going wrong the moment Joe Root didn't wait in the alley outside Walkabout Bar with a piece of four-by-two for Warner's noggin. Open invitation, that. Let the county down, he did. And the country, I suppose.
<b>Murray</b>: You're not wrong, mate. I remember the old timers saying that when Yorkshire was strong, England was strong. Well, you Tykes have provided four members of the England team in this series and they've still been battered. What's the story?
<b>Frank</b>: Aussie coach. That rascal, Dizzy. Inside job! No, I've not usually got a lot of time for Aussies – present company excepted – but I do like Boof Lehmann. Now that he's proved himself with the Aussies, I guess we'll give him a go at Yorkshire if he fancies himself ready for the top job in cricket.
<b>Murray</b>: Flamin' oath, mate. Boof's been beaut. Nothing like a bit of passive smoking to help your opening bats get going. And he's brought a few laughs. Maybe you lot should give Flower the flick. Nah, you need a new coach, a larrikin who likes a fag.
<b>Frank</b>: Not sure Tuffers is available. Besides, isn't it his head that's used to build an idiot?
<b>Murray</b>: You could always give it Swanny, now that he's spat his dummy. But you blokes must be spewing. Rock bottom. I mean, what's the way back for the Poms from five-zip?
<b>Frank</b>: Well, I'm pretty sure we'll be alright in a couple of years…
<b>Murray</b>: You been watching South Africa Under-19s again?
<b>Frank</b>: No mate, a triangular U-17 tournament between New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Ireland! Seriously though, I spent a bloody fortune coming to watch this rabble and they get skittled in 32 overs. There'd be a riot if that happened in the Bradford League!
<b>Murray</b>: And if there's a riot going off, I'm not backing the Poms! I mean, let's face it, you've been totally bullied. Bunch of sooks. Mind you, when your team's hard man's Stuart Broad – a guy who looks like he's just been picking edelweiss for Julie Andrews – then you know you're up Ht Creek, mate.
<b>Frank</b>: Bresnan may look like a Jacomo model in waiting, but his bite's a lot worse than his bark. Strong lad, Bressielad. Strong as an ox.
<b>Murray</b>: He's no Harro, though – 100 percent Aussie, that bloke. Mad as a cut snake. Probably drives a sponsored ute. I thought you Poms were gonna bring some fire, mate. Four tall quicks. They're all bloody herbivores, giraffes in the upper branches. Boyd Rankin? That's not a cricketer, that's a bloody spoonerism. Tremlett? I've seen more life under the wrinklies' doona. And Finn's a fella who can't stop himself running into the bloody stumps. Now that's a bit of a problem, not being able to avoid running into stuff you're trying to avoid running into. You should see my missus's insurance premiums. And she uses Sheila's Wheels. Strewth! 'Change of bowler, batsman. Right-arm through'.
<b>Frank</b>: Aye, you're right. And the batting's been no better. Abysmal.
<b>Murray</b>: First the media said they were too soft. Then they said they were too bloody rigid and inflexible. I mean, which one is it? What are they made of?
<b>Frank</b>: Not sure, but I've never liked KP or Trott… well, I did like 'em when they were making runs. Not now. They've only made Cook captain 'cos it has a ring to it. Bell has a face made for disappointment – always let you down, will Bell. Bairstow's makes a cat on a hot tin roof look relaxed. He's like a flaming' mosquito. He probably annoys himself. Prior's gone all Priory, as in the celebrity rehab place. Toby Carberry's been a dog's dinner. Root I like…
<b>Murray</b>: Yeah, a real Yorkshire ripper, as we Aussies say. And what about Stokes? Now there's someone to pin the nation's entire hopes on until he crumbles under the ridiculous expectation if ever I saw one.
<b>Frank</b>: Snickers in a team full of Flakes.
<b>Murray</b>: Oh well, it's only cricket. Fancy a coldie?
<b>Frank</b>: As Mr Kipling said, 'Win or lose, always booze'.
<b>Murray</b>: <i>He bowls at the throat / He bowls at the toes / That Mitchell Johnson / His bowling's fair go</i>
England are utterly infuriating, they really are.
Joe Root > Don Bradman. That’s just maths.
Archer with four. Curran with three. Himself past 50.
Changes for both teams ahead of The Oval.
England’s Test-match batting is broken. Time to get back to basics.
The WTC scoring system is stupid, but the fix is easy. Get it done.
The Badger lets off steam.
Joe Root is shepherding the ‘righteous’ England team through ‘the valley of darkness’ and must ‘lay his vengeance’ upon those closest to him
England have named an unchanged squad for this week’s final Ashes Test, resisting the temptation to draft in new blood.
All the innovation, variation and athleticism with sell-out crowds up and down the country – this was arguably the greatest T20 season yet.