The Third Leader: Darkness before dawn?

Readers, we have been here before. One thinks of Alfred, Harold, the Armada, Dunkirk. Actually, scrub Harold, as his second test proved fatal. But you catch my drift: darkest, as you will have witnessed, before dawn.

And I would respectfully ask those who haven't got a clue what I'm on about to count their blessings, move on and not intrude on this legitimate grief-limitation activity. Because Adelaide has its consolations. It is something, surely, to have posted the highest declaration in history before losing? It argues, does it not, a thrilling approach? Sport that is predictable is no sport; the greatest is the glorious, heady triumph against the run of play and form; and to achieve that, you need to lose a lot, very badly.

This, of course, is the very ethos of the Barmy Army, and explains all those banners at Perth teasing Shane Warne which some observers thought not such a good idea. It is why, contrary to mutterings, Kevin Pietersen is such an essentially English batsman. Did you see that sweep?

It is also important to keep a sense of proportion, at least between Tests, and to seek solace in other arenas. I myself was cheered by the easing of restrictions on loft conversions; elsewhere, there was free parking in Tewkesbury, Jordan is pregnant and the Plain English campaign has had the nerve to criticise a sentence written by Germaine Greer.

Finally, while noting that the weather in Perth looks like being fine, I will return to history and remind you of the name of the man who reversed fortunes in the western desert in 1942, after late selection.