During the Nineties, the Ashes was something to be endured for England fans. It became the kind of joke that people with no sense of humour could use.

If you felt something was bad or that a group of people were fantastically incompetent, you likened whatever it was to the England cricket team and everybody fell about laughing or wanted to die in order to escape humanity, depending on how intelligent they were.

In the last Ashes series played in England, in 2005, England had got into the habit of winning some Test matches. They had some fantastic fast bowlers and they beat Australia, who were the best side in the world. Everyone went mental and cricket looked good again.

That England team wasn’t supposed to be ready in 2005. It was widely believed that they would be the better team by 2009 though. At the time of writing, that point of view seems even more dated than it did after England won in 2005.

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