Daniel Brigham is a sportswriter and editor. @dan_brigham
When you're young, nobody tells you how you'll end up measuring your ageing process. It turns out that those conventional gauges - thickening wrinkles, thinning hair and letting out unfamiliar noises when bending over - aren't nearly as pronounced as the relentless nostalgic stomp of cultural and sporting anniversaries.
As life ambles before your eyes, there is nothing more devastating for your grasp on youth than the passing of anniversaries. In 2015 we've already ticked off 40 years since the release of Jaws, 30 years since Marty McFly went Back To The Future, and 20 years since Oasis brought out (What's The Story) Morning Glory? Next year England will be flooded with reminiscence and regret as 50 (fifty!) years of hurt are marked since they won the football World Cup.
Here's another one. As England evaporated under the heat of Shoaib Malik's double-hundred in Abu Dhabi, the mind swam back to another time when England's Ashes heroes were punctured by a tour against Pakistan.
Ten years, man. Ten years since those superstars, that collection of MBEs, went to Pakistan on top of the world following the 2005 Ashes and returned as just another English side beaten by Asia, beaten by hubris, beaten by their rightful place in the cricketing world.
More than that, it is ten years since England last played a Test on Pakistan soil, walking off in Lahore having lost eight wickets for 43 runs in 70 minutes, succumbing to a devastating double act of pace and spin from Shoaib Akhtar and Danish Kaneria to lose by an innings and 100 runs; to lose the series 2-0.
For some, England series against Pakistan always stir nostalgia more than any other. More than any other international contest in cricket, England v Pakistan is a battle of polarity: measured v mercurial, convention v flair, buckled-in v carefree. And then there's the antagonism. Oh, boy, the antagonism, as these two very different sporting cultures clash: players v umpires, players v players, sniffy fans v devilish bowlers.
How could England fans really mind losing to Pakistan, when it was the Pakistanis who made sport look so much more fun?
Yet the 2005-06 series was supposed to be different. England had won all seven home Tests in 2004, had won a five-Test series in South Africa that winter and then beaten the Australians of Warne, McGrath, Ponting, Hayden and Gilchrist. England had dominated Test cricket for the preceding 18 months, playing very much in the manner of Pakistan: a maverick captain in Michael Vaughan, a master of the swinging dark arts in Simon Jones (never to play for his country again), a run-guzzling opener in Marcus Trescothick, a rock-star batsman in Kevin Pietersen, and a doyen of slick batting elegance in Ian Bell. Traditional, snaggle-toothed, stiff upper-lippers? Not these lot.
England were even treated as rock stars when they arrived. Asked into the cockpit by a cricket-mad pilot on an internal flight, Andrew Strauss was met with a barrage of starry-eyed questions about his team-mates - until he noticed the lights of the approaching runway and pointed out that it was probably about time the giddy pilot started to land the plane. A visit to a clothing factory in Faisalabad (where the England players were hoping to grab themselves some Ralph Lauren gear) had to be abandoned when hundreds turned out to see the Ashes winners, with people hanging from the factory windows. This was cricket, but not as England knew it.
For four days of the first Test, in Multan, England justified their sudden superstardom. Vaughan missed out due to a knee injury but stand-in captain Trescothick smashed 193 to give England a first-innings lead of 144 runs. Chasing just 198 to win, they were 24 for 1 on the fourth night. Five years earlier Graham Thorpe had steered England to a momentous win in Karachi, their first series win in Pakistan for 39 years. Now it seemed inevitable England would be on their way to making it two in a row.
Then, well, history caught up with them. England lost five wickets in ten overs on the fifth morning and went down by 22 runs. They were stunned; the bubble of mental toughness built up over the past two years had been shattered in just one session.
In the second Test, in Faisalabad, England survived despite another second-innings implosion, but the game was memorable for other reasons: Inzamam-ul-Haq's twin centuries took him past Javed Miandad's national record of 23 Test hundreds, while perhaps the most Pakistan thing to ever happen on a cricket field occurred on the second day. Shahid Afridi took advantage of the confusion caused by a gas cylinder exploding on the boundary to aggressively pirouette his studs into the pitch while no one was watching - apart from, of course, the TV cameras.
Lahore was the setting for a grim third Test for England. A double-century from Mohammad Yousuf allowed Shoaib and Kaneria to blow England away on the final day, and a sequence of six successive series victories was guillotined. Perhaps it was post-Ashes complacency - coach Duncan Fletcher, who claimed he enjoyed touring Pakistan, later wrote, "I think we all tried our best. But the feeling of anti-climax just got the better of us… After all the euphoria, excitement and fanfare of that famous victory, Pakistan was just too quiet" - but it was more likely, really, that England had merely reverted to type.
Ten years on, it is an anniversary to remind us of England's proper place in the sporting world; underachieving, unable to turn periods of dominance into eras of dominance. It happened again in 2011-12, when another run of six series wins - including the emotional victory in Australia - was ended by a Pakistan whitewash. And, alas, right now history is repeating itself: a team of Aussie slayers, full of unpredictable talent, are playing an overseas series against Pakistan and feeling the post-Ashes blues.
This time, as in 2011-12, they are playing over 1300 miles away from Lahore. So when we're looking back on this series in 2025, when we're all sighing at another ten-year anniversary, wouldn't it be heartening if Pakistan were playing England on home soil, in front of their own fans, and celebrating as the visitors once again reminded the world that no team falls from grace quite like the English?
England vs Pakistan
Pakistan vs England
Pakistan vs England
England in Pakistan Test Series
England tour of Pakistan