Ashes 2015: All hail the funniest ever Ashes

England and Australia have come together to produce a five-part opera of pure sporting comedy

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The Independent Online

This will never go down as the best Ashes series, some might even label it the worst, but 2015 can at least lay claim to one prize – all hail the funniest ever Ashes.

Over the course of six glorious weeks, England and Australia have come together to produce a five-part opera of pure sporting comedy.

Just as the 2005 Ashes were characterised by an ever-changing struggle for supremacy on the field, the balance of power constantly changing between sides – 10 years on this series has had its own closely fought battle, each side seemingly competing to be the funniest in world cricket.

England came into this series with strong form, still wiping traces of World Cup egg off their faces, and adopting a win one, lose one pattern in Tests that showed all the hallmarks of genuine comic timing – Australia it seemed had work to do.

The tourists though were not concerned because they knew that in Shane Watson they had one of Test cricket’s funniest cricketers up their sleeves. For while he will never match Stuart Binny for all round comedy cricketing excellence, nobody does pathos quite like Watto.

From the selection of Watson ahead of Mitchell Marsh, the animatronic scarecrow over the man with a century in both warm-up games, Australia never looked back in Cardiff – upsetting the form book to take a quick early series lead.

England though were comedic favourites for a reason and they came roaring back at Lord’s, laughing in the face of Australia’s momentum by allowing them to amass 337/1 by the end of Day One. They finished strongly too, collapsing inside 37 overs, all out for 103 on Day Four in a 405-run defeat.

Australia though had the series-defining factor still in their locker, a total inability to play the moving ball. Casting Chris Rogers as the classic straight man, the rest of the side, selectors included, went on a two-Test rampage, playing England off the pitch.

If the ineptitude of Edgbaston’s eight-wicket defeat, including a masterful 136 all out, had seemed like Australia were slightly overdoing it in their pursuit of comedy cricket, then Trent Bridge provided a hammier performance than Donald Sutherland's recent efforts.

As Oscar Wilde almost said, to lose one wicket inside the first over may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Australia though went on to lose all 10 for 60 runs in 18.3 overs, completing what is now statistically cricket’s worst and therefore quite possibly funniest ever innings.

From that moment on, England never recovered, even conspiring to lose more ground in the final Test as Australia won not only events on the field but also strengthened their position in the comedy stakes, winning a dead rubber by calling up Peter Siddle, exactly the bowler they had needed when the actual Ashes had been on the line.

England then may have won back cricket’s most prized trophy, but it has cost them another. They fought valiantly, with only three batsmen averaging over 30, and by having only one of the five leading wicket takers in the series, but ultimately they came up against a side at the top of their game.

Congratulations then to Australia, Ashes losers, but undoubtedly cricket’s new funniest team.