At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
Yes, sport is for fun, it’s for trying new things, it’s for evolution, revolution, breaking the mold.
But, first and foremost, at least on a professional level, it’s a win, and the bottom line is that Australia leads the Oval 2-1 after a Test to play, the Ashes are kept safe and the best England can hope for right now is a 2-2 draw.
Professional sport is an entertainment industry and England have proven themselves to be great entertainers under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
But it’s also a business that pays off, that’s why players get paid so much and why there are so many coaches, backstage staff, etc.
Career, legacy, defined, above all for British and Australian players, by Ashes’ success.
That’s why the cast of 2005 England will forever be remembered, cherished and cherished for what they achieved in that peaceful summer.
This isn’t 2005, despite the tit-for-tat nature of the first three games, although it may have evolved into something comparable, even taking into account the contrast with no free-to-air television.
However, that could not overshadow that summer, even as England recovered from 2–0 to become only the second team after Don Bradman’s 1936–37 class to do so.
What makes 2005 remarkable is the plot as well as the actual plot, the years of Australian domination, when Michael Vaughan’s men toppled not only a good team, like today’s Pat Cummins Australia, but also one of the greatest to have played the sport.
England won the championship that year despite the fact that Shane Warne, the greatest pitcher to ever walk the earth, took 40 shots with a score of 19.92, an astonishing display of natural strength that was the culmination of a heroic defeat.
But England have Kevin Pietersen, they have four nimble men of the apocalypse (Messrs Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones) and among others, they have Vaughan, a great tennis player and one of the greatest captains the game has ever seen.
No matter how well Australia played, no matter how hard they fought, no matter how excellent Warne was at bowling, it was England who rose with the coveted pot.
The disappointment this time was that England had their chance.
A convincing case can be made that they are the better team, certainly against an Australian team lacking injured spinner Nathan Lyon, a fortune they have not been able to capitalize on, other than winning every throw so far.
England have dominated the Fourth Test in the rain in Manchester, which if they win they will clearly be the favorites going into the Oval, following their stellar win in the Third Test at Headingley.
But self-inflicted wounds let them down during the first two Tests, at Edgbaston and Lord, and proved costly in the end.
Perhaps, when it all settles down, England will at some point admit that they’ve gone a little too far, a little too caught up in the idea of entertainment at all costs and trying to reinvent the wheel, for the sake of better terms.
Now, and certainly understandably, they will point to an exceptional record of the Ashes and the many wonderful and exciting moments they have created along the way.
Nothing can, and shouldn’t, take that away from them.
Inevitably, after the Manchester game, there were calls in several quarters for Test matches to have reserve dates, in order to be more flexible with the conditions of the game (players could, for example, skip lunch at Old Trafford, or continue playing until 9:30pm, the clamor has increased).
All will have their opinion, although the need to improve overshoot rates is perhaps the most obvious; more than ever, it is the paying customer who is the loser who is taken for granted by the powers that be.
In an ideal world, there would indeed be more flexibility in the schedule, but you won’t help but notice that the abomination aka Hundred begins next week, to which the Ashes have been put in a few short weeks to help keep the Hundred from running unambiguously.
One of the ironies of this Ashes – not quite 2005, but still extremely interesting – is that a lot of young people would certainly be attracted to cricket if they could watch it live on free TV, as some current crops in the UK were able to do in 2005, when they caught the bug.
For while “Bazball”, on this occasion, failed, Ashes certainly did, proving for the eleventh time that there really is no substitute for high-quality Test cricket played without gimmicks, fanfare and unnecessary gimmicks.