Can it get any worse? It can if you are a Brit living in Australia

God, what a miserable day's cricket that was. As an exiled Brit living in Sydney and watching my team crash out, I cringed at the thought of the "friendly" abuse that'll be coming my way.

After moving to Australia nearly two decades ago, it didn't take me long to get to grips with what your average inhabitant of "The Lucky Country" thinks of us Pommies. It's well known that Australians are sport mad but their favourite pastime is a sport you won't find represented at the Olympics: Pommie-bashing is up there with cricket and surfing on the average Australian's list of leisure activities.

Initially, of course, it's all new and sometimes the jokes are even funny. This phase doesn't last though and, after a couple of years of being acutely sensitive to every instance of denigration, you have to harden to it.

I have reached the point where I can shrug off the comments of my next-door neighbour Don, who is convinced I keep my money under the soap and is always kind enough to offer me a warm beer on a hot day.

But everyone has a weak spot, and mine is cricket, or more accurately the Ashes. Each successive series brings hope followed by the inevitable disappointment.

And the inevitable jibes: how can a country of 60 million people field such a mob of "no-hopers"?

The year before I arrived, 1987, coincided with the England team's last successful Ashes tour of Australia. The year after I settled, 1989, the Aussies flew to England and gave us a monumental shellacking. And so it has continued. The trend was broken by our victory over Australia in the rugby union World Cup final. With victory in the Ashes last year it seemed that my cup would run over. But it was to be shortlived.

I could live with the abuse. What is hard this time is the fake disappointment at my team's capitulation: "And there I was thinking you 'drongos' would give us a bit of a game," is typical. As for Don, I fear that normal service is about to resume.

David Este has lived in Australia for 19 years

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