Every two years since 1882 (excepting world wars, international crises, and, um, this year), England have taken on Australia in a competition known as “The Ashes.” Australia have beaten England 123 times; England, Australia 100 times; and the rest of the games have been drawn. Until 2005, Australia had slaughtered England for 18 years. England lost the Ashes in 2006-7, regained them in 2009, retained them in 2010-11, and they’re now set to play back-to-back series in England and Australia.
As anyone who’s ever met or seen an Australian knows, Australians take their sports VERY seriously. Australians don’t like to win: they like to crush the opposition. And there’s no opposition they like to crush more than the English. And there’s no competition where they like to crush the English more than the Ashes. And there’s no competition in recent memory (until 2005, that is) where they have succeeded in doing just that.
The trouble is Australia aren’t very good anymore. In fact, they’re pretty mediocre. England have had their ups and downs in recent years. But their downs are nothing like Australia’s in recent weeks. First of all, Australia are playing bad cricket. Secondly, the players are undisciplined and brattish. And now, just as the Ashes are upon us, they’ve fired their manager. We’ll have plenty of time to see just how this affects the Australians. But it is, to put it mildly, an inconvenience.