fanatix looks at the workings of how England and Australian Test teams are perceived by fans.
Forget the contest for the little urn that has more mystical attraction for cricket fans than Excalibur and has been fought for on both sides of the globe this year.
The biggest battleground for players in the England and Australia teams is one that cannot be seen or touched.
It is on social media, where those who are the warrior of the keyboard lurk and hand out judgement without fear or failure.
It is in the comment section of any news story, opinion article or YouTube video, as ‘fans’ from both countries exchange barbs more laden with poison than anything Michael Clarke and Alastair Cook’s side have dished out recently.
And it is in consciousness of the avid sports nut, who often directs how each player is viewed in the wider community not just when they are wearing the crest of their country.
The past eight Test matches have been historic in the long-running battle for the Urn between England and Australia, largely because the pressure-cooker environment that is the Ashes has not been relieved for months.
Even in between series as the teams went their separate ways after the English summer, questions from fans and media always came back to what was going to happen in Australia.
How could Clarke and his men hit back?
Will Cook and his side become complacent?
DRS, new coaches, injuries, form, field placements, line-ups – it never let up.
And it is in that environment of saturation that some of the bile that has been spewed forth in the form of banter between players at the Gabba, Adelaide Oval and WACA as been born as the players fight not just for the Urn, but for how they are seen as people away from cricket.
The perceived image of every player in both sides has come under the microscope this series.
As a fan, depending on what your birth certificate says, you either viewed Mitchell Johnson as a hero, the comeback kid or Yosemite Sam, mustache sold separately, gunning down English batsmen.
Or he was the smug, boorish, ruffian who took delight in trying to take English player’s heads off in what was a strange, Bodyline in reverse, phenomenon.
Stuart Broad – pantomime villian and a cheat, or the one man hell-bent on bending the Aussies to his whim.
And even Michael Clarke, who most English could only admire what he has done with his team since they were outplayed on their shores, was not too long ago seen by his countrymen as being too loud, too wafer-thin as a captain and lacked the conviction as a player and now leader that were the trademarks of his predecessors such as Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh.
While player’s performances, or lack of them, on the field and the media’s handling of the statistics will largely shape and warp fans’ opinions – the 21st century is a dangerous place for cricketers as much as any other sports stars.
Ryan Harris’ expletive-laden tweet in the early hours after his side’s victory in Perth will be seen as a cricket hero having a good time and that the casino that denied him access should relax its laws.
Or just another example of childish behavior from a player and a side who should conduct themselves better in the public eye.
Graeme Swann’s comment, during a Facebook conversation it must be noted, that he’d prefer to be on a night out with his brother rather than being “arse-raped” by the Australian side in Perth.
Perhaps a humorous and realistic assumption of how badly his side has played in the past three weeks.
Or a shocking turn of phrase relating to a serious crime affecting thousands of people around the world.
Professional cricketers are put under a microscope by those around them, because like it or not, they are the faces of their sport and are currently battling against each other in a series that means more than any other on the International Cricket Council schedule.
While it can be argued all of this debate is centered around a game played for a tiny trophy, for the players, they are also out to win the respect of the public because they will end their careers ones day.
And while even the most careers are eulogised and flaws are papered over, who Clarke, Johnson Broad and Swann were as people and what they stood for, will long outlive any individual records.
Every retiring player is asked “how do you want the fans to remember you?”