The Roar
The Roar



Do we really want to see England in despair and humiliated? The answer might surprise you

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21st December, 2021
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The question of how long Australia can kick sand in the face of England before it becomes tiresome even for fans of the victors is not a new one.

In 1989, Allan Border led Australia out of a long nightmare and on an almost sadistic rampage throughout the old country.

England used 29 players in the series, Graham Gooch saw Terry Alderman bowling off-cutters in his nightmares every night, and the underrated Aussies won 4-0, kicking off an era of crushings.

Four years after that tour, when England sneaked victory over a mentally-absent Australia at The Oval, it was the first time in 18 Tests that they’d beaten the Aussies and questions were already being asked down under about whether you could have too much of a good thing.

By 2003, when the scene in The Simpsons where the kid sobs, “He’s already dead” had become the only truly succinct way to sum up the dynamic of the Ashes, it was widely remarked that no matter how much we’d always yearned to batter the Poms, it was just getting sad. Moreover, it was Bad For Cricket, especially given how rude the Australians always were.

Those lamenting the limp performance of the current England team maybe don’t recall the ’90s and early 2000s, when the brutality with which English teams were dispatched frequently far exceeded anything seen this year on the cricket field – or indeed in most recent horror films. Suffice to say that the fact that for the last ten years Australia has only dominated at home, with their best result in Britain the 2-2 of 2019, indicates the gap between the teams has not yet reached McDermott-versus-McCague levels.

Jofra Archer.

(Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Yet it is a question worth asking. As cricket lovers here in Australia, do we really want to see Test after Test where English batsmen are roughed up and English bowlers toil painfully under the southern sun for no reward?

Sure, we are patriots, but we are also lovers of the game, and as such, is it truly satisfying when our team’s victory is not so much a hard-fought triumph over worthy foes as a successful burning and looting of a five-year-old’s lemonade stand? Can we genuinely derive pleasure from prolonged displays of such relentless thumpery?

After all, in 2013-14 we saw Mitchell Johnson tear England apart like they just solved the Lament Configuration, ending careers and sending batsmen fleeing in terror. In 2017-18 a less spectacular but more efficient fast-bowling unit methodically dismantled an England that seemed well out of their depth.

In 2021-22, it would appear that Joe Root’s men are, if anything, inferior to the last two touring parties. Do we really want to gloat over the remains left by this downward spiral?

Apart from Root, nobody in the England team averages 40. Their best quicks are creaking veterans who seem to still not know how to bowl on Australian pitches. If they have a Test-quality spinner, they are unwilling to pick him. They choose between fast bowlers based on who’s more likely to hit a useful 30 at number eight. Their wicketkeeper drops catches that would’ve been simple even without gloves. Their openers consider batting less an occupation than a brief diversion between dressing-room crossword sessions.

We know all this, and we’re glad that Australia are on top, but can we enjoy such a rabble being given dose after dose of the inevitable?

Can we look with joy on another day of red-faced despair in the field, of the hollow eyes of haunted batsmen trudging funereally back to the pavilion, of a hapless captain with head in hands, of proud professional athletes reduced to shadows of themselves?


Is that feeling of smug superiority truly worth the mental and emotional breakdown of fellow human beings and the confirmation in another nation’s mind that our beautiful country is the eternal Hell of which story and legend tell?

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Do we, in short, actually want to keep watching England get the shit kicked out of it, indefinitely?

I’ve spent many long hours pondering all of these questions, and after sober consideration I can answer without fear of contradiction: yes.


Yes, we do.

Glad to clear that up.