England begin the series with a youthful line-up and a misplaced sense of optimism. They perform impressively in the team photographs, but struggle thereafter, losing by an innings and an awful lot inside three days. Shane Watson misses the match having pulled a hamstring getting out of bed, but hopes to be fit for Lord's.
England reshuffle their team, moving Moeen Ali to No. 3, making Gary Ballance keep wicket, and opening the bowling with Joe Root. They lose by an innings and an embarrassing amount inside two days, to the delight of Her Majesty, who is able to leave early and catch the 3:40 at Doncaster. Shane Watson is unavailable for selection, having pulled a hamstring while attempting to sharpen a pencil.
On the advice of the ECB's new astrological consultant, England drop six players who were found to have Jupiter rising in their astral charts. Three days of torrential rain enable the home side to take the game to the final session, but on the brink of defeat, Alastair Cook resigns. There is no time to choose his successor, so the ECB call up a shop dummy from a gentleman's outfitters in Moseley, slap an England cap on it and wheel it out to field at mid-on. Under the leadership of the shop dummy, England hold on for a draw.
The shop dummy sprains an ankle on the morning of the Test so England call up former captain Chris Cowdrey, then change their minds and give the job to Joe Root. The selectors also make several changes, dropping every player with the letter "b" in their name and calling up half of the cast of the musical Hairspray. They lose by an innings and three furlongs and Root resigns. Shane Watson watches the match from his hospital bed, having pulled a hamstring while making a cheese sandwich.
In an attempt to revive flagging interest in a one-sided series, the entire Australian team legally change their first names to Mitchell the day before the Test. The England selectors pick their side randomly from members of the Oval crowd, and under the captaincy of a delivery driver from Swanage, manage to avoid the follow-on for the first time in the series, losing by just 575 runs. Mitchell Watson passes a fitness test, but on his way out to bat, stubs his toe on a stray brick, then accidentally treads on a discarded rake, which knocks him out cold. He hopes to be fit for the one-day series.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. @hughandrews73