The timelines on my social media platforms (Facetwit and Twitbook) went kind of nuts this morning as Australia woke up to the news that Australia had won the Fourth Test and thus retained The Ashes.
I was atted (?) @ed (?) by a number of people who are hoping to get a rise out of me and so, in the spirit of the game, this is my two pennenth worth.
Well done Australia. You have played well and deserve to be winners.
Now then, to address the kind of messages that I have seen on social media this morning: Really? Do you really think that England losing is going to make me mad or sad? Y'all right?
There is a distinct difference between Australia and England fans and this result has brought it out yet again.
Australia likes to mythologise two things about itself.
Firstly that it is the land of the fair go, despite the fact that the economy is very much rigged in favour of the rich, and that from a cultural perspective Australia is very much a nation of xenophobes, who are openly suspicious and openly cruel towards anyone who is other.
Secondly there is the expectation that Australia is world champion in absolutely everything and that if Australia loses, then there must be cheating going on.
England on the other hand, likes to mythologise two things about itself.
Firstly that it is the land of manners and politeness, despite the fact that that the economy is very much rigged in favour of the rich, and that from a cultural perspective, England (both as the individual country and the metonym) is very much a nation of xenophobes, who are openly suspicious and openly cruel towards anyone who is other (see Brexit).
Secondly there is the expectation that England is world champion in practically nothing and that if England loses, then it is because it was doomed from the start.
The fans of English sporting teams go into tournaments with the expectation that England will win a few matches and then crash out spectacularly. The English football team won the 1966 World Cup by drawing 2-2 at full time and then scoring the third goal in disputed and dubious fashion. The English rugby team won the 2003 World Cup by drawing 17-17 at full time and then scoring a field goal from the boot of Johnny Wilkinson in disputed and dubious fashion. The English cricket team won the 2019 Cricket World Cup by drawing 241-241 at and then winning the Super Over in disputed and dubious fashion.
All of these World Cup wins came through odd circumstances and every England team which followed, has never won another trophy. The corollary of that is that when England actually does manage to win something, it is usually so rare that nobody really knows what to do. England fans can celebrate a World Cup win in any sport, safe in the knowledge that it will never happen again.
This brings me neatly to the subject of the fourth test. When England won the third test, the base expectation of Australian fans kicked in and England must've cheated. The evidence given was the non-dismissal of Ben Stokes and accusations of cheating, even though Australia had used up all of the reviews and that LBW bowler umpire.
The tale of the fourth test saw Australia post a massive target of 497/8 declared and England only just managed to avoid the follow on. Australia then scored 186/6 declared which set a target of 383, which England were never going to chase down, and England failing to force a draw by about twenty five minutes.
The difference in expectation and the crowing about the result is itself completely expected. Australian fans were always going to yell "You suck!" at England fans on social media but the response was always going to be "We know. What else have you got? Nothing.".
The base expectation of England fans in just about every sporting endeavour is that England will probably lose again. The more pessimistic of us expect England to never escape from the group stages of a World Cup in any sport and should they actually manage to do so, immediately get knocked out in the next round.
The base expectation of England fans in The Ashes, is for England to lose the tournament five-nil, even after winning the Cricket World Cup. England fans expect to hear the word 'doomed' in commentary repeatedly, some sort of critical analysis of why England lost as though looking through the entrails of a dead animal, and then to hear the taunts of Australian fans afterwards.
The thing that Australian fans seem to never be able to wrap their minds around is that given the evidence of England's constant failure in every sporting endeavour for more than 150 years, England fans already know what the score is.
You can't undermine someone's expectations if they already live down a mine. You can not take away someone's hope if they never had any in the first place. You do not shatter someone's expectations if they expected nothing from the beginning. You can not take anything away from zero in absolute terms. Even if England fans only expected to do half as well, two half nothings are a whole nothing.
England fans always expect to lose. You can not beat us down any further. Your taunts are useless.