A defeatist attitude was once the domain of the British, cricket fans in particular, but that mantle has been well and truly taken over by Australia as we approach the best and potentially worst Ashes series of all time.  

The best, as it’s as fair as a Test series can get, with five matches in each country.

The worst because it’s hard to see anything other than England flogging Oz.

In search of hope, I asked Aussie Facebook mates for a reason why this won’t happen, and got these pearls of optimism: PEDs (“But they don’t bestow skills, just enhance what’s there, so back to square one”); misadventure (“They get on the wrong plane and end up in Antarctica”); cloning (“So Michael Clarke can be the top six and James Pattinson can bowl from both ends”); and rain (“It may be a wet summer in the Old Dart.

Hopefully really wet. Like raining four out of every five days. Not confident if it’s only three”).

The provenance argument, bastion of the desperate, came out, too, suggesting players from South Africa not be permitted.

But still without Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, England would have to be the favourites.This is the sort of stuff the English get bagged out for saying.

Now, I’m not suggesting the nation of my other passport has all of a sudden become one that unconditionally backs its side – football will keep that suppressed – but the tide has most definitely turned. 

It’s a shame come July this it won’t be two teams firing on all cylinders. It’s all in England’s favour, even the lead-up tours.

For them, New Zealand is a confidence-enhancing mission in conditions far more similar to England than the dusty Indian gauntlets the Aussies are in.

They are stable, solid in all spots and with competition for places.

Australia has Clarke and Shane Watson, an all-rounder at number four who doesn’t bowl, but wants to now he’s seen the alternative.

Still, there’s something fun about going into a series staring down defeat.

Maybe years of that is how the Barmy Army became so creative.

If so, a thrashing may mean the end of “Aussie Aussie  Aussie, Oi Oi Oi”, and that’d make everyone a winner. 

Agree or disagree? Is the Ashes over for Oz before it began? letters@tntmagazine.com


Roman on the bench for Rafa?

Finally, something believable out of Chelsea – someone had to snap and it’s not a huge shock it was Rafa Benitez.  

After his side won through to the FA Cup quarter finals, their last chance for silverware this season, he delivered one of the great sprays at Stamford Bridge’s sniveling ‘fans’ and the club, who label him “interim manager” and nothing more. 

“I will leave at the end of the season,” he said, doing the old quit before you get the axe thing.

“The fans are not helping us. They are damaging the image of the club.”

The ‘fans’ don’t like him mainly because he’s not Roberto Di Matteo, whose record was actually no better than Rafa’s. 

Owner Roman Abramovich will have likely given the Spaniard a holiday by the time we go to print, but who will replace him long-term is anyone’s guess.

The only reason to work there is to get gardening leave and a payout upon sacking. The first billionaire owner-manager perhaps?


Photo: Getty