Can you hear it this morning? A sort of low, distant grumbling noise, mixed with a high-pitched keening, and punctuated by plenty of cursing and much gnashing of teeth.

No, it's not coming from Ericsson Stadium this time, but from across the Ditch in Australia, where our sporting neighbours are starting to assume the fetal position over the fortunes of their national teams.

It was bad enough when their netballers were out-smarted and out-muscled in the one-off test against the Silver Ferns because, on that occasion, the Australians were incensed by New Zealand's tactics and believed they'd been robbed.

Then there was more heartache when the Socceroos leaked 10 goals in three games at the Confederations Cup in Germany, raising some pertinent questions about their World Cup prospects.

So you could imagine the confusion when their Davis Cup side was flogged 4-1 by Argentina, despite carrying a marked home-court advantage on grass and a famous history in the competition.

But this was mere trivia, a barely discernible blip, when compared with the Aussies' present uproar over the performance of their Ashes cricket team, and the latest nadir suffered by their Wallabies.

The cricketers had been expecting to sing their victory song at least five times in the Ashes series, according to Messrs Ponting, McGrath and Warne, but so far have been restricted to just one recital, and time is starting to run out.

So anxious are they that stalwart paceman Jason Gillespie has been axed from the line-up to play Northamptonshire at the weekend, effectively ruling him out of the critical fourth test at Trent Bridge.

To be fair to the Aussie selectors, Gillespie had underwhelmed, taking just three wickets at an average of 100 in the series so far, and opening the door for fellow contenders Michael Kasprowicz and Shaun Tait.

But his sacking was still symptomatic of the nerves coming into play, a sign that Australia's usual arrogance and cockiness are starting to be overtaken by some less familiar emotions, such as anxiety and self-doubt.

And then came the Tri-Nations rugby blow, final confirmation for Australians that the world they'd once known had finally rotated off its axis and that the natural order of things had somehow begun to unravel.

Four consecutive losses? Not since 1981-82, when the Wallabies conspired to lose to Wales, England and Scotland (twice), had they plumbed those sorts of depths, and never in the professional era.

It makes you wonder what sort of indignities are still to come for our close mates, and what could happen to national morale should their rugby team fall at Auckland and their cricketers at Nottingham.

If worse comes to worst, we might have to open up our borders on humanitarian grounds, so the poor souls can flee these darkest of times and feel the warmth of success on their backs once more.

Then again, we may not want to dilute our gene pool by allowing the losers in.