While England may be trailing in the overall scoreline at the end of two Test matches, they might have just jumped ahead in the psychological warfare that is a long Test series.
After a rain-hit yet absorbing five days at Lord’s, there is hardly a time to sit down, take stock and ice your heads until your back out in the middle at Leeds on Thursday.
The players are out here to play. Steve Smith is back dominating world cricket with his bat and his many different leaves and swats.
Pat Cummins is bowling like the world’s No 1 Test bowler. Stuart Broad is doing what he does in English conditions and take wickets for fun and Ben Stokes looks like he is making up for lost time making a stamp on this series after missing the last one own under.
Jofra Archer has also finally arrived on the Test scene, waltzing in and bowling rockets and taking on the role as the new enforcer in the England team like a duck to water.
So while the cricket is great and we’re set for a whirlwind few weeks with three Ashes Tests and a county game crammed into the next four weeks, there’s just one element to the whole series that continues to linger.
It was there all the way through the World Cup, been a feature at both Edgbaston and Lord’s and will no doubt be there again at Leeds, Old Trafford and then back at The Oval.
It is often said that live sport is the greatest reality TV and the banter and byplay between competitors and spectators add to the narrative of the battle that’s taking place.
Booing is part of sport. We sit in the outer and its the first thing (other than possibly an expletive) that comes out of our mouths to voice our disgust with a particular decision.
Or when a player that has performed an act of treason in swapping clubs or may have been involved in foul play during a previous meeting, it’s just a natural noise that rings around to voice disgust or how we feel about it.
It’s ok to boo. It’s ok to jeer and it’s ok to label someone as the villain. But these things can tip over the edge within a matter of choice moments.
During that brilliant spell of bowling, such as the one that occurred during the middle session on Saturday Afternoon at Lord’s, we had one of those moments which risks marring the remainder of the series.
When Steve Smith courageously walked back through the long room and back out onto Lord’s to resume his innings, the reception he received was expected, yet a the same time distasteful and borderline disgraceful.
Expected because he is Steve Smith – the pantomime villain. He is one of three bad boys on tour and the best batsman in the world and the one person who is standing in the way of England taking back the little urn.
Why? Because he is so good. Not to mention recent history and actions that will live with him forever. But to listen to the reception he received when he walked back out to bat from a section of the Lord’s crowd has the ability to mar what is turning into a phenomenal Test series and an Ashes series that will be remembered forever.
You know its escalating to extremely distasteful levels when not only Prime Minister of Australia and the British Sports Minister come out and slam the behaviour.
Considering some of the things Scott Morrison has been caught participating in at Sharks games that’s pretty surprising coming from him. But when a member of the most exclusive Cricket Club in the world gets thrown out and temporarily banned because of his vile language and abuse in a room that claps and cheers, then we have a problem.
The booing is nowhere near the nature of what the Australian football community did to Adam Goodes – i.e. how they booed him away from the game and into early retirement – this doesn’t have the same racist undertones to it.
Smith will continue to bat on and the likes of Cam Bancroft, Dave Warner and the rest of the Australian team will be subjected to the fun-loving nature of the English crowds, the UK public needs to be aware that as much as they want to give it, and it is perfectly fine to do so, there is a line and a threshold of knowing what is acceptable – and what is not.
Sport is not universally positive and nor should it be. Just like any form of entertainment, there’s a mix of emotion bubbling away.
It’s raw and often unfiltered. Some of it is positive and some of it is not. If you want something that’s absolutely cheerful, respectful, polite, wholesome and happy, go do something else because that’s not what sport is.
So while booing and jeering are acceptable, there is a line.
The Australians and particularly the banned trio of Smith, Bancroft and Warner know what’s coming when they arrive at Leeds.
The jeers and the cheers from the parochial England crowd and the clever songs and barbs from the Barmy Army will be there and it all adds to the theatre that is Ashes cricket and live sport. But the responsibility is there with the public to ensure that this latest episode of disrespecting an act of courage has the ability to snowball and paint innocent people in bad lights.