After reading Paul Collingwood's current column on the BBC website (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/cric...nd/5165716.stm, you lazy gits), it again struck me how dominant the Ashes are in English cricket. Collingwood's column is another excellent example of an England cricketer making all the right noises ahead of a Test series against good opposition, only to insert the large but (no pun intended) "of course the Ashes are already in the back of my mind".
England bowlers can miss a whole English summer as long as they are fit for the Ashes etc. etc. It's the only series that really counts, it seems. This problem may well be at the heart of the current decline of Test cricket. A number of countries are none too enthusiastic about playing Tests as it is (Pakistan: would be nice to play in front of an audience for a change; India: doesn't make us money; Windies: we're crap at it, NZ: we could play 20 Twenty20's at the same time), and with England not even pretending to attach full value to playing Test cricket against others than Australia, there's not much left in favour of the five-day game.
The bad thing is, this mentality is shared by players, management, journalists and supporters alike.
If this mindset continues, The Ashes will soon become an anachronism, a biannual re-enactment of Gettysburg and Waterloo including the funny clothing, while the rest of the world watches baseball and Twenty20.
If England want to preserve Test cricket as we know it, they better start by thinking about the next series to come. Then, only when they look at the calendar and see, by golly, it's Australia next, can they start using Ashes every other sentence again.