Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win. Lose to win.
Before we talk about the cricket, we should mention that we’ve never heard more crap spout forth from a man’s mouth than Shane Warne provided yesterday. And yet if we were to have him killed, we would be the ones to go to jail.
After four of the flatest, dullest (wettest) days of Test cricket that anyone can remember, day five had it all: Kevin Pietersen at his best; a world record for Brad Haddin (indeed there was some fine fielding all round, bar Stuart Broad’s cack hands); Australia surrendering the moral high ground with every Shane Watson delivery aimed wide of leg stump and the umpires ending the series as they started it, as the pantomime villains of the piece.
No-one can really complain about the decision to take the players off – the umpires are there to uphold the laws even if, as in this case, the law is a complete and utter ass. Nor can they realistically complain about Australia’s go-slow tactics. Any other side in the same position would do exactly the same, even if Michael Clarke was dangerously close to the line in his harassment of the officials.
What they can complain about is the preaching from the Australian media, whose side heroically resorted to such tactics after dismally failing to look even remotely threatening on a day five pitch. Their declaration was little more than a PR stunt and they (like us) never expected England to entertain the idea of chasing it down. It was the home side who rose to the challenge and would have surely made it home had the light not intervened. It is the home side who take the momentum and the moral victory from this game.
Plus, in case anyone seems to have forgotten, it was the home side up on the podium waving the tiny urn around for the fourth time in the last five series, while the away side contemplate a Test record of played nine, won none, drawn two and lost seven from their two tours of 2013.
Plus they refused to bowl Devereux, the shits.
For England, regardless of whether it was 3-0 or 4-0, this was job done. It’s a terrible old cliché, but you can only beat what’s in front of you and England have managed exactly that, even without approaching anything near top gear. There’s plenty of debate around the return series – who will break the bad news to Simon Kerrigan, especially if he’s already bought a hat with corks on? – but that debate can wait for now. Before then there’s the small matter of two T20 internationals that no-one gives a shit about, before five ODIs. That no-one gives a shit about.
For Australia there are still plenty of positives to take from the series, the main one being that Devereux has confirmed that he may be the greatest human ever to walk the Earth. But despite those positives they’ve won just two games on the whole tour, a 15-a-side warm up against the West Indies and a four day game against a Somerset XI so bad that even Gemaal Hussain got a game. Winning is a wonderful habit – just like snorting gin – and Australia are still a long way away from being anything like winners again.