England has beaten Australia at cricket! In recent years, this formulation—once so rare a sentence that it could be considered a typographical error—has become common, even a commonplace. Australia’s cricket team is simply not as good as England’s, even though England’s team is not as good as it should be, or has been over the last twenty months. In the ongoing Ashes series, the heroes for the home team have been the flourishing Ian Bell; the mercurial, frustrating, but occasionally devastating Stuart Broad; and the brilliant Jimmy Anderson—who, in this last game, looked tired, and should be rested for the last match in the series, which England lead 3–0. Apart from the solid Peter Siddle and the indefatigable Ryan Harris (who nonetheless gives every impression of being absolutely knackered), Australia’s bowlers have underperformed. Their batsmen—aside from Michael Clarke, David Warner, and Chris Rogers—have failed to light up the English summer.
It was widely mooted that England could sweep the Aussies 5–0, thus revenging themselves on the drubbing they received on the 2006–7 tour. This was always unlikely, and is now impossible, given the drawn third Test. But 4–0 is not out of the question, even though the Australian team hasn’t played as badly or the English team as well as such a scoreline would suggest. Sometimes, cricket just ain’t fair.