Illustration: Simon Bosch
Jonathan Trott sat in the England dressing room after his side lost the first Ashes Test. He was broken. He sobbed for 20 minutes.
How you judge the man says more about you than him, but what can't be disputed is that Trott's wrestle with his mental demons - and the subsequent decision to abandon the tour - has turned this series into Mount Vesuvius.
Illustration: Simon Bosch
Forget about Ashes and what not. The slightest movement - a Mitchell Johnson throat ball, a Michael Clarke sledge, a Kevin Pietersen referral in the third person, mere breath drawn from the annoying little lips of Stuart Broad - and this baby could blow hot molten lava as high as the Southern bloody Cross, maaaaaaaaaate.
Or something like that.
The Englishmen certainly carry heavy grudges heading in to the second Test in Adelaide, starting next week. Trott's sad departure has provided untold motivation. They are already feeding on it.
Touring English cricket teams have often felt under siege when visiting the colony.
In 2006, the Sydney media hounded the players on days off in the lead-up to the opening Test. Marcus Trescothick abandoned that tour, and later said it was the prying eyes of journalists and photographers as he ate sushi in a city food court that tipped him over the edge. Mental illness is something that should not be dismissed, but there needs to be a clear distinction drawn between Trott's condition and the hostility England feel towards the rest of the country.
This ugly little feud between Clarke and England quick Jimmy Anderson - who appears to have the attitude of Derek Zoolander and is about as smart - seems very juvenile.
Anderson apparently smacked Clarke in the head with a pad after a match seven years ago; Clarke has never forgiven him; Anderson wants to punch George Bailey in the head; Clarke wants to break Anderson's arm …
The same thing happens in the school yard at Urunga Primary every day. Well, it used to.
Meanwhile, England have absolutely taken the bait when it comes to the ambush journalism of some media outlets, who blanked Broad out of history in Brisbane and flew planes over the Gabba dragging signs with this subtle reminder: ''KP, you're not even English''.
This was enough for the England team's pathetic no-talkies treatment of all media when they left Brisbane and then arrived in Alice Springs.
Fuelling this hatred between the Mother Country and the Commonwealth of Australia are former players with various media arrangements who can't help but snipe away.
The best? Shane Keith Warne, who is tweeting with the same voraciousness as his sexting days.
This week, he was at his best.
''It should all stay out in the middle,'' he tweeted, before following up with, ''Anderson said he wanted to punch Bailey in the face.''
Oh, Warnie, you magnificent bastard.
Ashes series are rarely dull, but it's difficult to remember one being this hostile.
And apparently Test cricket is losing its relevance.
CA gags Warner
Cricket Australia has clamped down on outspoken opening batsman Dave Warner, preventing him from appearing on Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast indefinitely.
Warner's forthright and candid views - especially about Trott - might not have gone down well with England and others, but they are often appreciated on the show. But we're told Warner has been gagged and won't be talking for the time being.
It sounds like it is not so much that Cricket Australia doesn't want him to talk, but fear what he might say.
Colleague Danny Weidler was last week physically attacked by a notorious eastern suburbs figure better known in rugby league circles as ''All Day Frank''.
Weidler revealed in his Sun-Herald column last month that the professional punter, who has links to the distribution of party drugs, had been an unwanted distraction during the Roosters' finals campaign and grand final week.
Weidler has told police he was abused, spat on and then struck in the back of the head in front of several bystanders in Oxford Street mall in Bondi Junction.
The Channel Nine reporter did not retaliate.
All Day Frank was charged but has been bailed with conditions and the matter will be mentioned in court in January.
Weidler confirmed the incident when approached by this column.
''Yes, I was attacked and it's not acceptable, so I went to the police,'' he said. ''I'm confident they will handle the matter in an appropriate fashion.
''They were very good to deal with but as far as making any other comments regarding what happened at the time, you're better off speaking to the police.''
ATC chairman departs
A revered golf clap for departing Australian Turf Club chairman John Cornish, who announced on Thursday that he will be standing down in February.
Cornish was supposed to be at the helm for one year. He ended up being there for three, and his legacy is that magnificent new stand and the redevelopment of Royal Randwick. That was his baby.
He has been replaced by vice-chairman Michael Crismale, and it was done with stealth.
There have been murmurs for many moons about Racing NSW seizing control of the ATC.
It was informed of the move only a few minutes before the press release went out.
We speak to the defending Australian Open champion before the second round at Royal Sydney on Friday.
You have said passion is the reason behind your longevity. How does someone who regularly five-putts find that passion again?
It's not something you can acquire, it's something you have. A lot of the guys I've been playing with my whole life - Wayne Grady, Ian Baker-Finch, even Greg Norman last year - they all say the same thing: they just don't like playing any more. I've never been like that. I'm still thinking about it before I go to bed. It's something I haven't got rid off, although I can see it finishing shortly. Two more years, I've given myself.
The ban on anchored putting. Your thoughts?
There are so many grey areas on the ruling it will be hard to police. The biggest one is that you can't have your forearm on your body. When I putt with the short putter, I've got both arms on my body.
Why don't they get rid of putting altogether?
I certainly agree with you. It came about because players started to win major championships. Ten years ago there were only five guys using it. Now more than a third of the field uses them.
You were one of the first, yes?
[Scottish golfer] Sam Torrance was the first. I saw him at the Italian Open and I asked him if he had a spare, and then I used it at the British Masters.
Is that when you were wearing the famous Festo bucket hat?
Same year. That's the only thing people remember me for. Remember that stupid hat you used to wear? It's pretty iconic.
What did Adam Scott's win at the US Masters mean for you?
I was sitting on the lounge in America, watching the last few holes. It was great. I think the boys will win more in the next few years.
Is your son Mitchell still caddying for you?
He is. His advice I cannot do without.
He's too big to argue with.