Was Michael Vaughan right?
On Monday, tea salesman and part-time troll Michael Vaughan said that England's one-day cricket is old-fashioned. They are, according to Michael, ten years out of date. Ask England's one-day batsmen who Miley Cyrus is, and they'll give you a blank look.
He did preface his opinions with a disclaimer, admitting he had been wrong about Alastair Cook, so could be wrong about this too. This is a good idea. Every pundit lured into a studio should have their wild speculation or ludicrous guesswork preceded by a statement explaining exactly how often they had been utterly wrong in the past:
"We now turn to former England captain Michael Vaughan for his take on these events, but before we do that, we should warn listeners that since he began speaking his brains into a microphone for a living, Michael has been completely wrong on 27 occasions and partly wrong on a further 35. The full details are available on our website, just click on 'Michael Vaughan', 'Totally Wrong' and scroll down the A-Z List."
But if England's one-day international cricket is ten years out of date, does that mean that ten years ago it was at the cutting edge? Well, in 2004, England were captained by, er, Michael Vaughan, and their one-day international trophy cabinet resembled, as it does now, a museum diorama illustrating the history of dust and the evolution of the cobweb.
So what about 15 years ago? Or 20? Or 30? How deep do you have to dig into the rich, fertile soil of failure before you hit a time when England were good at this stuff?
As with most sports, the English decided how they were going to play one-day cricket five minutes after inventing it, and have stuck with that method ever since, like a stubborn old colonel refusing to leave the family home despite the volcano erupting in his cellar.
The method is known as Survive, Nudge and Thrash, and it is, I suppose, a logical response to native conditions. Let me explain.
England is damp. It isn't properly wet, like a rainforest. It's just damp. You know those underpants you washed three days ago and put on the radiator to dry? If you're late for work and you need them in a hurry, you just know they're still going to be wet, don't you? Those underpants are like England; damp in a depressing but predictable way.
In England, the wickets are green and the air forever feels as though a large wet Labrador has just shaken itself dry in the vicinity. Batting is about getting through the first ten overs with some wickets left. At the annual domestic final at Lord's in September, the team that lost the toss usually found themselves 20 for 5 by midday.
If some batsmen manage to survive, they begin to test the ground like snails emerging from their shells after a downpour. They crawl along at two an over until they reach the 45-over point, when the umpires announce, "It's Slog Time!", the audience wakes up, and the aimless thrashing commences.
Thanks to serial grinner turned professional airwaves irritant Graeme Swann, who has finally managed to tick off the objectivity box in his TMS contract by squeezing out a criticism of his best friend Alastair, we have learned that Survive, Nudge and Thrash is still the official England Team doctrine.
Swann revealed that at the 2011 World Cup, when England scored 229 and Sri Lanka knocked that off in 29 overs, the coach congratulated his batsmen for carrying out their plan to the letter. This is hilariously and utterly English:
"Well played Corporal, you refused to alter tactics in the heat of battle. The pride of the British army has been maintained this day."
"But we lost, sir."
"Never mind that, boy, the most important thing is that we lost like Englishmen. We played the game the right way. The only way."
"But if we'd been using guns instead of these long bows, we might have won."
"Nonsense. Long bows were good enough for Henry V. Now go fetch my leg, Corporal, I intend to reattach it with this traditional Tudor healing poultice made from cowdung, tea leaves and gin."
The good news for those who enjoy a chuckle with their international sport is that it seems Team England are planning to recreate the tactics of the 1970s at next year's World Cup. Once again they will head into a major international tournament with a "see how it goes, eh" attitude, once again they will be bringing feather dusters to a swordfight, and once again they will be departing proceedings at the first opportunity.
All very entertaining, but consider this: if England do fall flat on their face again, we will be forced to draw a very uncomfortable, disconcerting conclusion, namely, that Michael Vaughan was right.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here