Day 1 of England’s Test Match at Pakistan, the Rugby Union international against Australia and this afternoon’s football friendly with Argentina represent a televised smogasboard…of potential disappointment, writes the Times’ Rick Broadbent.

Today, masochists can reacquaint themselves with the pain that is watching England. A televisual marathon embracing the cricket, rugby union and football teams will have some people debating whether they would be better served by turning over to œCelebrity Bird Flu. But the game™s afoot.

œFollow your spirit, and upon this charge/Cry ™God for Harry, England and Charlie George! The trouble with England is that heroic failure has become such a part of daily life that anything more is frowned upon.

But those dissolute buggers, the cricket and rugby teams, have bucked the trend and started winning things. The consequence is, where we once expected little and were at ease with our disappointment, expectations are now at odds with a history of mediocrity. England expects that every man will do his duty, and that includes Peter Crouch.

Women of a certain age love to moan about the weather, men of a certain age love to moan about Geoff Thomas™s scuffed shot against France. Call it the Dunkirk spirit, the camaraderie that comes only from shared pain. England does expect every man to do his duty, but it reserves the right to be morally indignant about it afterwards.

But, as Blair said, it is better to lose and do the right thing than to outjump Peter Shilton and then blame it on an ineligible deity. And nobody loses like England, all metatarsals and melodrama.

Winning is different. We are rookies and cannot handle it, assuming there was some hidden reason for this anomaly. Take the Ashes. No sooner had England™s cricketers taken the upper hand in the series than seasoned commentators began to write that the Australians were an ageing team in decline. Strangely, none of these experts had voiced such an opinion when they were predicting an Australia whitewash. In truth, the Ashes was a tortuous triumph, won effectively by a single shot at Edgbaston, but England does not cater for fine margins and middle ground. So we were brilliant and the Aussies were useless.