It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
After missing the last Ashes tour due to his Bristol misadventure, Ben Stokes was determined to make amends this time around, and help his mate Joe Root create history Down Under.
As a New Zealand-born Cumbrian, the desire to beat Australia is as strong as any to have pulled on the Three Lions shirt and he has done plenty of it over the years.
At Lord’s and then Headingley in 2019 he reminded English and Aussie fans just how much this series gets his juices flowing after announcing himself with a ton in Perth in 2013.
It all added to the incredible expectations on his shoulders to produce more of the same from teammates and fans alike.
But instead of finding out what it feels like to win an Ashes Test in the Aussie backyard, after 19 games between them, neither Stokes nor Root is yet to experience it.
And Stokes admits he has not exactly done much to help change that trend.
“Pretty average to be honest,” said Stokes, when he was asked what he thought of his series so far.
“Just getting back out there from a personal point of view, being back out amongst the lads has been great, but from a team point of view we are 3-0 down and that is what matters.
“I’ve not done much to change it, but I’d much rather that the results were going our way.”
Even if Stokes had been back to his blistering best on this tour, it is doubtful whether the results would have been any different, so big has been the gap between the teams.
But after recovering from a broken finger and spending four months out of the game, the idea that superhuman Stokes would make everything alright was the definition of wishful thinking.
Too many people within the dressing room were sucked into the hype, and with a lack of any real preparation due to the weather, his chances of success were even smaller.
That being said, Stokes has played three hard games of cricket now, and after making some glaring mistakes with bat and ball, the next two Tests have to be his and England 's chance to show that they are better than what they have produced so far.
“I think we just need to come out and… not stand up to them, because I don't think we've been shying away from it, but we might have to go about it a bit differently," he added.
“That is an individual thing. Team sport is great because you can always have a team ethos, but when the individual gets out there it's about how they handle it.
“We’ve shown in small stages that we’re capable. We’ve had some really good partnerships with the bat and the ball. We know we can compete.
“But we’ve not done it for long enough or consistently enough and Australia have managed to get through those periods where we’ve had the upper hand.
“It’s about doing it for longer than that and putting some pride back into the badge.”
Perhaps the biggest issue facing Stokes and his teammates across the rest of this tour are the Covid restrictions that have played havoc over the past 20 months.
Bubble life is the most joyless of lives and Stokes has had his fill, with his mental health taking a nosedive last year.
If he can find his equilibrium this week, with his family set to leave for the UK shortly, then perhaps the player of whom so much was expected, might finally start to show why.
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