Tthere was something unseemly about the way England hailed their victory in the second Test. They swilled beer and champagne, they cavorted and crowed, and they invaded their own pitch. Back in Blighty, it was a similar picture, as though this single win, albeit a convincing one, had already clinched the series. This was despite the fact that, in the first Test, the same players had hardly covered themselves with glory.
Worse, almost, was Australia's attitude to defeat. Their media lambasted the players every which way; Ricky Ponting, the captain, was said to be in meltdown. There was dark talk that his winning days were already past; some said his job was on the line. What sort of a world was it, you had to ask, in which our gung-ho, always up-for-it cricketing adversary turned defeatist?
Now we know: the real Aussies never really went away. They were just biding their time, like good warriors do. Both sides now have a stinging defeat under their belt, and the series is all square, with two matches to go. It is shaping up to be a classic Ashes series, with no quarter given and individual and national prowess on the line. If there is a lesson for England to draw from their victory in the second test, it is to drop the hubris next time around.