Two households, both alike in dignity. For the second time in three years, the Antipodean siblings assembled, and their aged relative once again displayed obvious favouritism. Two Tests for New Zealand and five for Australia: hardly the most equitable arrangement of the FTP.
The two visitors ultimately lost four Tests to the home team's three. Yet imagine what could have been accomplished had they joined forces. Here, then, is the all-Antipodean XI, selected on the ability to play Tests in England in 2015. (Note that this is rather different from the ability to amuse crowds: on such a basis two Australian allrounders (no names) would have been automatic picks). Super Test, anyone?
1. Chris Rogers, 480 runs at 60.00
The limpet Rogers ended his final Test series top of the batting averages and a smidgen behind Steven Smith on total runs. Much was made of his experience of English conditions, and for the most part, he did precisely what he was supposed to, which was to hang in, see off the new ball, and protect the fallible middle order. He disappointed on day one at Trent Bridge, where Australia needed him most, but little blame can be attached to that miss, after his single-handed effort at Edgbaston saved Australia from the ignominy of a double-digit total.
2. David Warner, 418 runs at 46.44
A relatively quiet series for him, controversy-wise, but a productive one in conjunction with Rogers. If Buck failed, Warner normally stepped up. No centuries, but five fifties underlined his importance at the top of the order. A Lord's century was for the taking until he overplayed his hand against Moeen Ali.
3. Kane Williamson, 165 runs at 41.25 and 3 wickets at 7.33
England saw frustratingly little of this young world-class batsman, or too much, depending on the degree of one's partisanship. Williamson set up and top-scored with 132 in New Zealand's imposing first-innings total at Lord's, but faced less than four overs' worth at Headingley. We can only guess at what he'd have produced in the non-existent decider.
4. Brendon McCullum (capt), 138 runs at 34.50
One fifty and an average under 40 may admittedly sound underwhelming. McCullum's value, however, cannot be overestimated, with his fearless attitude - he set the tone with his first-ball six off Broad at Headingley - combining with level-headed humility. No wonder the English spectators warmed to him. No question either that he leads this hypothetical XI.
5. Steven Smith, 508 runs at 56.44 and 1 wicket at 16.00
The vice-captain of the XI, Smith had a summer of extreme peaks and troughs: a double-hundred, a hundred, and a fifty in his three innings in London were combined with… well, virtually nothing: two inconsequential scores of 33 in Cardiff, and four single-digit scores in the Midlands. Although England will privately feel the No. 1 ranking flatters him, his wicket will be the most prized in this XI.
6. BJ Watling (wk), 254 runs at 84.66
You probably wouldn't have guessed that average-wise, Bradley-John Watling was streets ahead of every other batsman this summer, whether from New Zealand, Australia or England. Deserved his Man-of-the-Match award for the pugnacious second-innings 120 from 163 balls in early-season Leeds, but even at Lord's he made two forgotten fifties. Didn't take the gloves in Leeds, but would still be worth his place as a specialist batsman.
7. Mitchell Marsh, 48 runs at 12.00 and 8 wickets at 18.62
Out, in, in, out, in. Decide for yourself whether that's a description of Marsh's selection or batting. While his batting talent failed to show up, his bowling made more of an impact, proving good enough to remove each of Cook, Bell, Root, and Stokes (twice). Hindsight suggests he should have played in Nottingham; however, Australia weren't really in need of an extra bowler.
8. Mitchell Starc, 18 wickets at 30.50
The superhero bowler of the World Cup wound up less Tony Stark, more Sssshtarc. Eighteen wickets sounds reasonable, but Starc was often wayward, conceding nearly four runs an over. With his ability to intersperse his spells with magic deliveries, though, and with Trent Boult keeping the runs down at the other end, Starc would be well placed to play the Mitchell Johnson role of old: pace and wicked swing, as Ian Bell discovered to his loss on a couple of occasions.
9. Trent Boult, 13 wickets at 24.84
Left-armers are definitely "in", and Boult fights off competition from Johnson and Tim Southee (and if I had to choose between them, I'd have him ahead of Starc, as well) - without too much difficulty, it has to be said. His 13 wickets - in just two matches - came at a better average and economy rate than every other specialist bowler this summer, the anomalous Siddle aside. An entry on the Lord's honours board was some consolation, possibly only bettered by the prestige of taking the new ball for my XI.
10. Peter Siddle, 6 wickets at 11.16
Another pick from that irritating back-seat selector Mr Hindsight. Top of the bowling averages on the strength of just one Test, all Australian (and quite a few English) supporters were asking where he'd been for the other four. Perhaps he wouldn't have been able to avert 60 all out in Nottingham, but one suspects he might have provided the control Australia so badly needed and lacked at Edgbaston. Or he might have been eternal-justice-sledgehammered by Bell. Who knows?
11. Nathan Lyon, 16 wickets at 28.25
May never be properly rated by English crowds - and maybe not Australian ones, either - largely for the crime of not being Shane Warne. Lyon easily outbowled every other spinner this summer, and while he was fortunate with a couple of his wickets - which bowler isn't? - he offered more control than most of his team-mates, proving the most economical (again, excepting Siddle). His top-order wickets at Edgbaston briefly threatened to restore some parity to the contest.
Clearly, it's a travesty that the team with the greater success - a 1-1 series draw - should only contribute four out of the 11 players on this team. For that we have to thank the schedulers, and resort to imagining how the New Zealand players might have fared over a three-, four-, or even five-Test series. Would Mark Craig have continued his impressive form from the Headingley second innings? Would Corey Anderson have proved a genuine fifth bowler? Would Martin Guptill have continued his oscillating pattern of ducks and 70s?
With such imponderables to grapple with, it's no surprise that the team that provided us with more hard data takes the majority of the slots. Nevertheless, while the Australians may have been the summer's main attraction, let us not forget that we have not one but two companies to thank for the "two hours' traffic of our stage".