Who can forget that Martin McCague - with catastrophic results - was preferred to Angus Fraser in 1994/95? Or that Andrew Caddick was left out for the 1998/99 trip, despite taking 105 wickets in the summer of 1998. And then in the ill-fated 2006-07 series, that a rusty Ashley Giles got the nod over Monty Panesar for the first two tests.
But there were no guffaws this time. On the contrary, the borderline selections of Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan proved to be positively inspired.
They also stuck with Alastair Cook despite before the series the likes of Mike Atherton calling for him to be dropped in place of Eoin Morgan. Of course, Cook then repaid the selectors’ faith by becoming a left-handed reincarnation of Herbert Sutcliffe. The selectors also resisted the temptation to move Jonathan Trott down the order and retained the six batsmen-four bowler policy.
All of these decisions paid off spectacularly. As did the one to keep Ian Bell at six when Paul Collingwood’s form faltered. Moving Bell up the order would just have undermined Collingwood and perhaps even given the Aussies a bit of a fillip – the sight of an in-form Bell coming in at four wickets down must have been soul-destroying for the Australians at times.
The two changes that England made during the series also paid off in spades. Tremlett was a revelation with 17 wickets after replacing the injured Stuart Broad. And what must have been a tough decision to replace Steven Finn with Bresnan for the last two tests also proved correct. Finn may have been the leading wicket-taker in the series at that point, but his economy rate of 4.3 runs per over threatened England’s plan of containment. So out he went, and in came Bresnan, who probably even surprised himself with how well he performed.
Whilst the England selectors deserve a tick in every box, Australia’s were hopeless and clueless despite what that ridiculous excuse for a Chairman Andrew Hilditch thinks. Forced into naming a confused and elongated initial 17 man squad 10 days before the 1st Test by Cricket Australia’s Marketing Department, they then compounded their error by jettisoning incumbent spinner Nathan Hauritz before a ball had even been bowled.
They then panicked after Brisbane by dropping Mitchell Johnson for the clearly unfit Doug Bollinger. Whilst for Perth they concluded that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Steve Smith was a number six Test batsman and that the out-of-form and technically deficient Phil Hughes should replace the injured Simon Katich. Admittedly they did get it right by sticking with Mike Hussey and the selection (albeit belatedly) of Usman Khawaja, but the overall picture they portrayed was one of poorly thought out plans, risky and ill-advised punts and a general sense of making it up as they went along.
Not only did England end nearly a quarter of a century of hurt down under by winning the series (yes, we're still gloating), but their selectors transformed from a bunch of bumbling incompetents into Gandalfesque shrewd soothsayars whilst somehow transferring their discarded 'attributes' to their Australian counterparts. That makes it even more satisfying.
Follow us on Twitter @thereversesweep