When I was about 11, at the start of a new season, I began negotiations with my father about a new cricket bat. I had identified a target bat. It ticked all the boxes - bright stickers, endorsed by famous players, expensive - and I pursued the dream relentlessly. If he, Dad, would just come to the sports shop, he would also understand how perfect, how beautiful, how important this new bat was. Eventually Dad relented and agreed to meet me after school.
Unfortunately, as a novelist with an annoyingly perceptive grasp of human nature, my Dad had a trick up his sleeve. He brought my old bat with him. It was weathered, oiled and a bit scratched but still perfectly functioning. The old one was, in fact, a very good bat indeed. The problem? It wasn't new. There was no wrapper, no exciting smell of pristineness, no shop-fresh lustre.
The conversation at the sports shop didn't develop as I'd hoped.
Dad: "Let's see this new bat then."
Me: "Here it is. You must be able to see it's perfect. Just the right size."
Dad: "Lean it against the wall next to this one."
They were exactly the same size. I changed tack.
Me: "Yes, but the pick-up is so balanced."
Dad: "Just like the old one, in fact. Can't tell the difference."
Me: "And the middle. Never tapped up a bat with a better middle."
Dad turned to the shop assistant with a question. Could he tap a ball up and down on the un-bought bat? Sure, no problem. So Dad tapped a ball with the new bat. Then he tapped a ball with the old bat. The old bat was clearly better.
Dad: "So Ed, let's get this straight. You want me to buy a new bat for you even though there is nothing wrong with the old one. The new one is the same size and less good at its job. I'll make a deal with you. If you feel the need to buy something new, here's 10p. Go and buy a chocolate bar.
I often remember that story when I see an unglamorous, experienced player outperforming newer, flashier alternatives.
We are hardwired to admire novelty. As products of consumerist capitalism, we are conditioned to become neophiles. It is all the more important, then, to remember the counterpoint. How easy it is to be duped by the trappings of novelty - the wrapper, the freshness, the hopeful associations. But what if an older version - forgotten but not declined - has superior practical virtues?
We are hardwired to admire novelty. As products of consumerist capitalism, we are conditioned to become neophiles
This applies even to selecting cricket teams. International teams often miss out on valuable contributions from experienced players who they have for long passed over or written off. In the rush to find a new brand, we neglect existing stock that could still do the job.
Chris Rogers' fine Test career ended at The Oval. As a player, he is a throwback to the great tradition of resilient and resourceful opening batsmen. As a case study, he represents a triumph of enlightened selection. Having ignored Rogers for so long, many selection panels would have resisted a "retrograde" step. In fact, ever since his recall, Rogers has glued the Australian top order together for two years. It looks obvious in retrospect. But the decision to recall Rogers in 2013 was far from universally admired. An uncomfortable question arises: how many other players in the Rogers mould are never given the chance to flower in autumn?
Between his debut and his recall, during Rogers' period of exile Australia blooded plenty of alternatives. Phillip Hughes, Marcus North, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, David Warner, Ed Cowan, Rob Quiney all made their debuts before the selectors finally returned to Rogers. Only Warner has a better Test average than Rogers.
Rogers retires having played 25 Tests, having scored at an average of nearly 43, with five hundreds and 14 fifties. Bundling together the last three Ashes series, he is the leading run scorer on either side, with 1310 runs at 48. He is one of only five batsmen in Test history to score seven consecutive fifties.
Here, though, is the really revealing statistic: for 24 of those 25 Tests he was over 35 years old. Only Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Michael Hussey scored more runs for Australia after reaching that milestone.
I am all for blooding youth, backing new talent and building for the future. But what about the present? Besides, it is much easier for young players to make their way in Test cricket when the team is playing even half-decently. Substitute Rogers' assured batsmanship over the last two years with a series of nervy youngsters and Steven Smith would surely have found it harder to make so many runs at No. 3. Just like a newspaper or magazine, a good batting order needs a subtle mix of pace and tone.
Rogers is an extreme example of an important category of success story. Neil McKenzie was brought back to play for South Africa at the age of 32. The "second act" of his career comprised 17 Tests and 1125 runs at 47.
David Steele's eight Test performances, so full of character, all came after he had turned 33. Hussey's 6235 Test runs at 51.52 were accumulated after his 30th birthday. Darren Lehmann's return to the Australian side in his mid-30s yielded 1570 runs at a notch under 50.
All of which brings me to Adam Voges. For much of this Ashes series, Voges was widely dismissed as not looking the part. He is certainly not as good a player as many prolific Australian batsmen of the 1990s and early 2000s who couldn't get a full-time berth in the team.
As this series has progressed, however, I've increasingly felt that Voges can provide some sense and stability in a period of change and uncertainty. With Michael Clarke and Rogers now retired, and Brad Haddin unlikely to return, Australia are short of experience and ballast. Across the five Tests Voges batted more convincingly than some famous names on both sides.
Sometimes the bat you already have is better than the bat you're looking for.