One book I don't regret asking for last Christmas was the auto-biography of Ricky Hatton, War and Peace. Though not primarily for Boxing reasons, since his last book covered his fighting career all the way to the Mayweather fight, and since then he's only boxed four times.
Kevin Pietersen is England's greatest ever run scorer. Roy Keane was arguably one of Manchester United's greatest ever players. Lewis Hamilton, was the whizz-kid extraordinaire. Three iconic sportsmen - but none of them are team players.
What the ECB did was wrong. Questions were answered, and I guess they still are, but they've done a disservice to someone that put 110% into England cricket. Regardless of the reports, the text messages, hands down he would be on that team sheet, for his sheer brilliance.
Getting thrashed is something. Getting thrashed and learning and changing nothing is unforgivable. So what lessons can we take from England's 5-0 drubbing down under..
Two of my favourite speeches come from the late 11th Century. They read as match reports for England's disastrous Ashes performance; they offer some clues and advice for the beleagured captain, Alastair Cook.
Yet for England, a perfect occasion for experimentation with a view to the future presents itself in the summer of 2014 with the decidedly less intimidating task of a home test series against a depleted Sri Lankan side. The point should be made clearly: badly needed is reform and refinement, not revolution.
I doubt Michael Cimino has ever watched a game of cricket in his life - nevertheless the Oscar-winning director who imploded in a fireball of arrogance, sycophancy and self-obsessive control-freakery more than three decades ago is the perfect mentor for England's beleaguered cricket captain, Alistair Cook.
As one of England's finest bowlers, Swann's sudden departure dramatically altered what was left of England's morale, leaving captain Alastair Cook under severe pressure to map out England's plan b.
Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes has provided a rare glimmer of optimism on England's calamitous current Ashes tour. Whereas the established players have failed, this 22 year old, who was not in the side at the start of the series, has now scored England's only century thus far...
How on earth have the Australians - defeated 3-0 only a few months ago - reversed the impetus from that series to such an extent that England's players now genuinely appear helpless?
I can honestly say that in all the interminable meetings I have attended, it is very rare for at least one person not to repeat what they, or someone else, has said, speak off message, ramble on about insignificant trivia, make witless asides or crack unfunny jokes.
Sledging is not poisonous or derogatory to the game; it is actually part of what makes cricket a great game and why people love it. Sport is essentially all about winning; therefore you need to take any little opportunity to get ahead of your opponent, whether that is physical or mental.
Most cricketing commentators have been at pains to say Jonathan Trott's stress-related illness is due to the general pressures of the game and not this particular Ashes series. They doth protest too much. For the nagging, unspoken concern is that Australia's relentless psychological war on the touring side has already taken a toll.
This kind of drubbing shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone though. England start tours abysmally - India, New Zealand, The UAE and Sri-Lanka, all resulted in collapses and losses or narrow escapes. Even the 2010 opening sortie of the Australian leg of the Ashes started badly.
Nick's reputation precedes him and every village brought demands for autographs and games of cricket. Over the four days we played numerous spontaneous games in the dusty lanes, on scrubs of land or taking over local school playgrounds, surrounded on every side by excited children, lining up to take their turn to bowl at the master batsman.
Cricket is a game of fine margins, where outcomes can often come down to a matter of centimetres. Unfortunately for England selectors, that doesn't make the job of choosing the third seamer for the first Ashes Test any easier...