Because I can't be bothered to write yet another Ashes preview, and the fact that my previous attempt at an Ashes piece didn't even get past the bullet points stage, here's a fun infographic outlining everything you need to know ahead of the first (or is it sixth?) test. Seriously, everything.
Writing a preview when there exists a Mitchell Johnson-sized variable factor is a pointless exercise, anyway.
Infographic brought to you by Spreadex, leading provider of Spread Betting in the UK. Click here for the full size image (1598 x 16205 px).
So, the Ashes are over, huh?
Nope. There's already a sequel in the works, to be released in winter this year. Much like the Saw franchise, the last good sequel came in 2005 and every further installment has just been really gory.
No more excellent analogies for now, I'll just skip right ahead to the player ratings. Oh, and congratulations to Ian Bell England, I guess.
9.5 - Ian Bell (562 runs at 62.44, 100 x 3, 50 x 2)
With an added layer of steel, Ian Bell is less Sherminator and more Sledgehammer of Eternal Justice. In other words, glorious to watch for a longer period of time than usual. In this series though, he was the ginger Atlas of England's batting order. Any time Australia threatened to get ahead, Bell was there to thwart them, yell "not today!" and slap them in the face.
"It's the Bell-signal. I've gotta go, they need me."
8.0 - Stuart Broad (22 wickets at 27.45, 2 x 5w, 179 runs at 25.57, 50 x 1)
The walking controversy (Walkgate? Nickgate? Broadwalk Umpire?) aside, it was a very fine series for Stuart Broad. Despite a good showing, he didn't take many wickets in the first Test but made up for it in the next few. He was a constant threat and was perhaps solely responsible for not allowing Michael Clarke to get going.
7.5 - Kevin Pieterson (388 runs at 38.8, 100 x 1, 50 x 2)
Wasn't at his most consistent, but scored vital runs when England needed him most, particularly in Manchester where only the rain played a bigger part in denying Australia a victory. Capped the series with two hugely different fifties (the second had a 75% higher strike rate than the first) at the Oval to (a) ensure that England remained unbeaten and (b) almost snatch a win.
7.5 - James Anderson (22 wickets at 29.59, 2 x 5w)
Jimmy took half of his series tally in the first Test, which is the best way to describe his performance. He had a couple of indifferent Tests and was quite good otherwise without a big haul, he was outstanding at Trent Bridge, only slightly upstaged by a teenaged Australian debutant.
James Anderson also fought in Vietnam. He looked different then.
7.5 - Graeme Swann (26 wickets at 29.03, 2 x 5w, 126 runs at 25.20)
A half-decent spinner was always going to make Australia sweat, so it's no surprise that Swann comfortably ended up as the highest wicket taker on either side without looking his best. His biggest haul of the series (9 wickets) did result in England's biggest win of the series, though.
7.0 - Tim Bresnan (10 wickets at 29.60, 103 runs at 25.75)
Bresnan fulfilled the role of a fourth bowler to perfection. He didn't release any of the pressure created by England's strike bowlers, and his accuracy coupled with reverse swing brought about a few wickets of his own. That might be too light for praise, actually - only Stuart Broad had a better strike rate for England.
6.0 - Joe Root (339 runs at 37.66, 100 x 1, 50 x 1)
Being in a settled, winning side has allowed Root to plant himself at the top of the order for a while. He failed to get going more often than not, but the 180 at Lord's was a glimpse of what could be, and the odd wickets he gets are more than useful. Slightly above "useful" but not quite "maybe we shouldn't pick Swanny". Another stint in the middle order should do it.
5.0 - Alastair Cook (277 runs at 27.70, 50 x 3)
The captain gets 5 points for... well, just for being the captain of the winning team. He did take the most catches (7) by a non-'keeper in this series after all! (no, that's not a record). Even after being sorted out by the Aussie bowling attack, he managed three fifties. He also had the lowest strike rate (36.39) by any batsman from either side. And speaking of low strike rates...
4.0 - Jonathan Trott (293 runs at 29.30, 50 x 2)
*yawn* Very modest series by his standards, won't go this long without - *zzzzz*
3.5 - Jonny Bairstow (203 runs at 29.00, 50 x 1)
Managed a solitary (yet important) 67 at Lord's in the company of Bell, was a bit of a walking wicket otherwise. Finally got dropped for the final Test as England decided that two mediocre debutants would be more useful than him.
3.0 - Matthew Prior (133 runs at 19.00)
Despite batting at #7, England did need him to score at several points during the series as their middle order did the bulk of the scoring. Didn't really look out of form but just didn't score. Doesn't have a fifty in his last 13 innings, but it'll still be a while before he has to fight for his place.
1.5 - Steven Finn (2 wickets at 58.50)
Sprayed it aplenty and dropped down the pecking order pretty quickly as a result.
1.0 - Chris Woakes (1 wicket at 96.00)
Not a great debut - unable to keep a lid on the rampaging Watson in the first innings and didn't even get to bowl in the second. Scored a handy 25 to keep Australia at bay though.
Unrated - Simon Kerrigan (8 filthy overs)
Actually, the way he was treated in his only Test was sort of R rated.
That look hasn't left his face since The Oval. Pray for him.