You may recall a fair amount of back-slapping among officials of the England and Wales Cricket Board in the past year over their supposed coup in handling the television coverage of the national side's fortunes to Sky Sports for a cool £220 million over the next four years.
The bean counters and apologists for getting into bed with Rupert Murdoch insisted that the extra money - around £20m a year - would safeguard the interests of the England team.
After all, they reasoned, that is the shop window of the game and the increased revenue would ensure our brave lads would get all they needed to stay somewhere near the top of the international pyramid. No expense would be spared in pursuit of the number one spot by 2007.
Try telling that today to the England coach Duncan Fletcher and his four best fast bowlers. They'll laugh cynically and tell you nothing has changed at London NW8 when it comes to botching things up.
An Australian called Troy Cooley has unwittingly demonstrated that the left hand doesn't know what the right is up to.
Troy Cooley is one of the main reasons why the Australians buckled under the assault from Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard. They revere him, convinced that the personable Tasmanian is the best fast bowling coach around.
Since Cooley came on board two years ago, that pace quartet has become the best unit in the world and to a man, they give the bulk of the credit to Troy Cooley.
But now Cooley is going home to take up a similar post with Australia. He will take his intimate knowledge to Ricky Ponting and say 'there you are, mate, this is how we'll get the Ashes back next year when the Poms come Down Under'.
Duncan Fletcher is furious, and rightly so. Last May, Cooley had asked for a two-year contract, after his present one had run out. The ECB dragged their heels, offering Cooley only a one-year deal. The matter still wasn't resolved by the end of that momentous Ashes series, at a time when England's fast bowlers and Fletcher were queuing up to sing Cooley's praises.
So Cooley was snapped up, seven months after he'd asked for new terms, making it clear he wasn't asking for the moon. As he says, "I do believe in a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. I would have been happy to stay with England, but May really was the time to have settled it."
Agreed - especially with such a vital member of the backroom staff as Cooley. I understand the England squad in Pakistan are furious that Cooley has been lured away and Fletcher's jowls are still quivering with rage, not least of all because he was kept out of the loop in all this by the ECB procrastinators.
I await a statement from the ECB with interest. After all, hardly a day goes by without their spin doctors regaling us with another initiative, designed to keep cricket on the front burner, leading to great things on the international stage.
Well to do that you need a top national side, and Troy Cooley certainly helped out in that direction since 2003. Not enough though, it seems. They couldn't find the money, time or inclination to employ further the best of his type in the world.
Don't worry, though. Murdoch's millions will ensure everything will be just fine. The ECB will conveniently ignore evidence at a recent Commons Select Committee meeting, which drove holes through the ECB's statement that the Sky deal would ensure an extra £20 million a year coming for the game.
Andy Duncan, the chief executive of Channel 4 told the MPs that it was simply untrue that Channel 4 wasn't prepared to bid enough to ensure Test cricket stayed on terrestrial television.
He said that Channel 4 wanted the main Test series for each of the following four summers - in other words, four out of seven Tests. Yet the ECB keep saying that no terrestrial TV network offered to cover anything more than 35 per cent of the Tests each summer.
By my arithmetic, Andy Duncan's network would have shown about 55 per cent of the Tests. His estimate is that such a deal would have led to a shortfall of around £5 million, not the £20m trumpeted by the ECB.
Also, Duncan believed that the two major sponsors, Npower and Vodafone, would have preferred that option to the one done with such stealth a year ago. Any sponsor prefers terrestrial exposure to satellite.
Yet the Sports Minister, Richard Caborn and the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell continue to trot out that line fed them by the ECB about the 35 per cent quota. They simply won't accept the true position.
Never mind, the welfare of cricket is safe in their hands - unless it concerns the future of an invaluable member of the England team's think-tank. How many other ways will the ECB choose to waste all that money?
Bruce's future in his own hands
The only way that Steve Bruce will leave the manager's job at Birmingham City is if he decides to walk. He won't be sacked this season.
His depressed comments after Saturday night's debacle almost sounded like a man resigned to clearing his desk, but that should be judged in context.
He knew that a win at Manchester City was imperative with so many tough games ahead in the Premiership - Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea the next in a row. With Andy Cole and Richard Dunne suspended, Bruce fancied getting one over on City. But Blues were awful and the manager rightly shoulders the blame.
The Birmingham board will stand foursquare behind Bruce. They have been so supportive of him in the past few weeks that they'd be laughed out of town if they reneged now, with 22 Premiership games left in the season. It would also cost them a packet, after Bruce signed a five-year contract in 2004.
But Bruce is hurting. He's wondering why some of his players aren't as motivated as he was when going through hoops, muck and nettles as a battling centre-half. He isn't the first modern manager to despair at waning powers of self-motivation among players who are highly paid.
If he feels he's terminally lost a crucial segment of the dressing-room, Bruce won't stay to preside over the decline. He knows that his squad have to play at full throttle to prevail. That's the Birmingham City way which has worked in recent years, and is the only option again available.
Tinkering with the playing style, tweaking it to a more measured, neater approach hasn't worked. The players who could prosper under that method have too often appeared luxuries when the heat was on this season.
If too many continue to go missing, then they'll find themselves having to impress a new manager. Because Steve Bruce is too proud to settle for clueless passivity and too honest to keep excusing the inexcusable. At the moment, he's most in danger from himself rather than the directors.
Gough reaps due reward
The look on Darren Gough's face on Saturday night said it all. Winning Strictly Come Dancing topped anything in his cricket career. And good luck to him.
Apart from his natural ability, Gough's time as a fast bowler has been distinguished by guts, sheer bloody-mindedness and a desire to prove wrong all those who wrote him off as the debilitating series of injuries stacked up.
He never gave up on the cricket field and that's why he's been so popular around the world. A rueful smile was never far away from that round, cherubic face - designed for a TV advert for brown bread - and his pride at playing for England shone through.
But winning this dancing contest on prime-time TV has surpassed anything he has done because of the unfamiliar, unrelenting work involved.
He had the strength of character to ignore the jibes and the sneers, knuckle down and graft his way to competence then expertise in the space of just a few weeks.
That stunning victory means we won't see him in the World Cup in sixteen months' time.
It was always a long shot, in his 37th year, but Gough never stopped believing he'd make it to the Caribbean, even though his body was protesting every time he ran in to bowl.
But now celebrity status looms and the public will not be divided in its opinion about him, as they were - understandably - about the flaky Phil Tufnell when he won another daft TV competition.
Darren Gough will now move on to being a national treasure. And he won't lose his ability to laugh at himself.
I remember when someone told him that he was born on the same day that the rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix died. "There y'are", he said in his broadest Barnsley accent, "One legend dies and another's born".
Darren Gough makes team-mates and opponents smile, because he's such a natural. He'll be having the same effect on millions of others from now on.
Wolves need to add grit to grace if they are to draw closer to leaders
At last Wolverhampton Wanderers are beginning to show signs of getting that draw monkey off their backs. And on Boxing Day, if they beat Reading, they may take a significant step on the road to the Premiership.
Saturday's 1-0 defeat of Leeds was encouraging because at last they managed to kill off the opposition. There was always the danger that they'd continue to ease off, lose concentration and give away a daft equaliser, but Wolves played with commendable mental toughness, deserving the points.
That mental flaccidity must have been just as relevant as a lack of goals when you assess Wolves' remarkable amount of draws. Since Glenn Hoddle took over a year ago, they have drawn an amazing 26 of 48 league games, losing just six.
Hoddle admits he's fed up of hearing praise for his team's style from opposing managers while they steal away with undeserved points off Wolves.
He now accepts that he'll have to be more gung-ho in approach because all those draws mean he has to be looking for victories as a matter of course.
That may mean a few defeats but if they keep winning a play-off place is surely theirs. They should sell Kenny Miller in January, otherwise they'll get nothing for him in the summer when his contract is up.
He's not that special anyway, as a projected fee for him of £1million to return to Scottish football indicates.
That £1million could be invaluable for Hoddle as he looks to bring in a couple of new strikers next month. He would love to keep the elegant and precocious Tom Huddlestone but his loan period is up soon and he's due back at Tottenham.
Huddlestone actually epitomises Hoddle's problem of style over relevance. In midfield, he has a lot of talent at his disposal, but not enough nastiness and cussed grit.
The Alex Rae of two seasons ago and the Paul Ince of five years ago would both be godsends, the driving forces behind the most stylish side in the division.
But Rae has gone back to Glasgow and Ince makes his comeback for the reserves tonight after three months out with injury. You can't expect a 38-year-old who's going to retire in May to return and immediately start leading the others over the top for the rest of this campaign
There are still 22 games left to play and Wolves are nicely tucked in, sixth from the top. Hoddle still expects both Reading and Sheffield United to go through a dodgy spell at some stage and if he can discomfit Reading next Monday, that could be the start of a surge. Crystal Palace did it two years ago - and Wolves are certainly easier on the eye than that lot were. ..SUPL: