England were rapped hard over the knuckles by Sri Lanka's painful ruler on Monday. "We've learnt lessons," said captain Stuart Broad. "What lessons have you learnt?" asked Nasser Hussain very shortly afterwards with a slight edge to his voice. Broad's answer was unmemorable, but, to be fair, no one - not even David Collier's private turdwaffle tutor - could answer that one. If England are to educate themselves, however, then their real lesson of choice must be to watch seminal teen flick Mean Girls because, in many respects, they have become the living embodiment of it.
As an off-the-pace Dernbach to the zeitgeist's Malinga, I'd never seen this motion picture from 2004 until the other night, but it's astute, callous, funny and devastating in its take down of high school cliques and the malevolent prosperity of treacherous bitching as a force for destruction. It is written by Tina Fey, who used to impersonate Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, which also incidentally used to feature the guy who plays the beleaguered headmaster of the school where the hormonal tsunami wreaks havoc. Mean Girls is England in the last three months. The parallels between their leading protagonists are uncanny. Quiet at the back.
Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan)/Kevin Pietersen
The Queen Bee, the Princess of Plastics, the girl who spits at beige, Regina George is the perfectly manicured, preened and blonded specimen who spikes the souls of those around her with her looks and her scheming. She maintains the 'Burn Book', a near-genius collection of scurrilous rumours, vodoo pledges of retribution and gossip about her fellow pupils and members of staff which, when its contents become public, ensure the school implodes with claws out retribution. Regina attempts to deny her involvement with the book and authority figures inexplicably side with her, instead pointing the finger of blame at Cady who, while by no means innocent, isn't the most toxic influence amongst the cast of sly plotters. She is eventually hit by a bus driven by Akila Dananjaya, but survives to learn more lessons.
Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett)/James Anderson
A dreamy jock with doe-eyes and just the merest hint of a potential monobrow if left unchecked, Aaron is Regina's sometime, but recently dumped, boyfriend. He's a sweet lad, really, but is not surprisingly underwhelmed by Cady when she vomits down him and turns against her completely when it's rumoured she is the one who pushed Regina in front of the bus. He's caught in the middle of it all, an aside not a schemer, but you lose sympathy for him when he gives in to his past urges for Regina when it's clear Cady is the better option. Gay icon.
Principal Duvall (Tim Meadows)/Andy Flower
A decent man left flummoxed as those beneath him tear themselves apart, Principal Duvall has worked his way up in the world only to find himself faced with a riot brought about by backstabbing and bitching. "Hell, no. I did *not* leave the South Side for this!" as he puts it. Hard to dislike, but it's harder still not to think he buried his head in the sand when faced with a desert-load of cliques. Still in a job at the end of the film, surprisingly.
Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey)/Andrew Strauss
Cady's maths teacher and unofficial mentor, but ultimately the victim of her charge's machinations, Ms. Norbury is a thoughtful, caring individual who is brought down when allegations are made behind her back. She retains her poise, seeks to bring calm after the storm - albeit not entirely successfully - and ends the film with her head held high. In Mean Girls 2 she stars as Nick Knight's replacement in the Sky commentary box.
Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert)/Ravi Bopara
Ravi Bopara is clearly Gretchen Wieners. Hard to get that into the analogy plotwise - particularly as Gretchen ends up joining the Cool Asians clique and an IPL contract for Ravi looks unlikely at present - but they're both very well turned out and harmless.
So that's why England should watch Mean Girls instead of playing Fifa all day. Fifa is great, but it eventually just leaves you with sore thumbs and a slightly post-masturbatory sense of regret. You just don't need that when Ashwin and Ojha are trying to spin you back up your own digestive system come November. OK, off you go.