This Ashes series was heralded with such excitement and expectation. It opened horribly, with England captain Andrew Strauss being dismissed by the third ball of the 1st Test.
Since that inauspicious start, and excepting the mishap in Perth, it has all seemed almost too easy, as England serenely paraded towards their first Ashes win Down Under since the 1980s. It seems astonishing to think it, but even Australia's 5-0 whitewash in 2006/07 was not as one-sided.
And as England appear to be calmly wrapping things up at the rickety marvel of the Sydney Cricket Ground, it feels not only a little bit anti-climactic. There is no nail-biting fifth day at The Oval for a South African born batsman to score his maiden Test century, as in 2005; nor a series-deciding victory at The Oval in which a South African born batsman scored his maiden Test century, as in 2009.
What is more, there is a decided note of melancholy. His decline as a Test batsman was all too evident. Yesterday was the last chance saloon for a man whose style at the crease (if 'style' were not a misnomer) has always had the ability to keep bars full, not empty them. Only a scratchy thirteen runs could be eked from a bat that sounded like tin; even the familiarly unattractive short back-lift leg-side shuffle was nowhere to be seen.
His position in the longest format of the game has always seemed vulnerable, in spite of such peaks as the crucial 72 minutes of batting at the Oval in 2005, which secured his MBE; the majestic 206 at Adelaide in 2006, which for brief passages of play actually looked fluid; his match-saving twin fifties in the Welsh capital in 2009, without which a tight Ashes series couldn't have been won; and least expected of all, the pearler that dismissed the brick wall of Michael Hussey this week. The only Durham man to score a Test match ton for England usually saved his best for Ashes contests.
He has not departed the world stage entirely - only in creams. Having led his country to their first world championship last year, he will continue as Twenty20 skipper. The World Cup is also just round the corner for England's highest-capped ODI player. IPL riches will follow again surely.
There has always been something very comforting about seeing his name on any team sheet, which is why today's news, as unsurprising as it was to hear, brings a twinge of sadness and regret.
He once said of batting: "You have to get yourself in and you have to scrap all the time for your runs, which I enjoy." I can't vouch that we always enjoyed it too, but we will dearly miss it.
Mat I NO Runs HS1 HS2 HS3 Ave 100 50 0 overall 67 114 10 4246 206 186 161 40.82 10 20 6 v Australia 15 26 1 770 206 96 74 30.80 1 4 1 v Bangladesh 2 3 0 148 145 3 0 49.33 1 0 1 v India 8 15 2 597 134* 108 63 45.92 2 2 1 v New Zealand 6 10 1 276 66 65 59 30.66 0 3 1 v Pakistan 10 17 1 632 186 96 82 39.50 1 3 1 v South Africa 7 12 2 576 135 91 71 57.60 1 4 0 v Sri Lanka 8 15 1 390 57 52 48 27.85 0 2 1 v West Indies 11 16 2 857 161 128 113 61.21 4 2 0