THE good news is that England’s Ashes nightmare is over after their humiliating 5-0 whitewash.
The bad news is that the one-day series starts tomorrow with Australia favourites to win that too. A five-match series begins in Melbourne with Australia odds-on to cause more misery.
William Hill make them 4-11 to win the series and 5-1 for another clean sweep.
On the face of it, and considering how poor England were in the Tests, there has never been a better time to pawn the family silver and climb on those odds.
England were not so much beaten in the Test series as disembowelled, as though Michael Clarke and his men had swapped bats and balls for surgical scalpels.
The prospect of another dissection is too much to bear for England’s supporters, who have spent the last few weeks watching the cricketing equivalent of an autopsy.
Not that the cause of death needed much investigation: England’s mollycoddled stars were comprehensively outclassed in all departments.
There is nothing quite like a change of format, however, to inspire fresh hope that the corpse could stir.
An influx of new faces, allied to a change of coach as team director Andy Flower gives way to one-day leader Ashley Giles, at least creates a sense of optimism.
Out from the Test party go James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Scott Borthwick, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior and Chris Tremlett, and in come Ravi Bopara, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan and Chris Woakes.
It means England at least can freshen things up as they seek to salvage a semblance of pride.
Of course, the main purpose of the one-day series is not so much about salvaging pride as preparing for the 50-over World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand in a year’s time.
England’s record in the cricket World Cup is about as impressive as their record in the football World Cup.... not very.
Indeed, England have not reached a cricket World Cup semi-final since 1992, when they went on to finish runners-up to Pakistan.
This one-day series – far from being the usual irrelevant add-on – is important for Giles as he looks to build a side capable of challenging at next year’s tournament.
To do that, England will need some X-factor bowling to complement the likes of Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad, with the latter rested for the start of this ODI leg.
With that in mind, this could be a big series for Middlesex pace bowler Steven Finn – deemed surplus to requirements in the Ashes – and Sussex fast bowler Jordan, who many believe could be the man to unsettle Australia in the 2015 Ashes summer.
Described as “a rare talent” by Mark Butcher, his former captain at Surrey, Jordan made his ODI debut against Australia at Southampton last September.
The 25-year-old has great potential and can whistle it down at 90mph
Despite losing the one-day series 2-1 to Australia last summer, England have shown encouraging signs under Giles.
They have the nucleus of a decent side and are third in the International Cricket Council rankings, three points behind Australia and six behind India.
On the batting front, the likes of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Joe Root can lay the platform for the likes of Morgan, Buttler and Ben Stokes, although the future of Pietersen (rested for this series) remains uncertain following his much-publicised rift with Flower.
An important series thus beckons for Gary Ballance, the Yorkshireman who could potentially be a long-term solution at No 4.
Australia’s ODI squad includes six players involved in the Ashes – Clarke (who returns as captain after missing the last one-day series in India with a sore back), George Bailey (who reverts from acting captain to vice-captain), Brad Haddin, David Warner, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson.
Australia have taken pity on England’s bruised and battered by deciding to rest Johnson for tomorrow’s first match, but the fast bowler is set to return for the second game in Brisbane as Australia coach Darren Lehmann rotates his squad with one eye on the forthcoming Test series in South Africa.