With a climatic deciding Test a whole ten days away, the stage is set for rampant media speculation. On Saturday Alec Stewart merely had to wonder how Ramprakash might fair at the Oval for a national campaign to have emerged two days later.
As Gideon Haigh's brilliant lecture reminded us, the media plays a crucial in role shaping our game. When Shane Warne began the series with a withering attack on Ravi Bopara's temperament he was laughed off. But his continued media statements seemed to chisel their way into Bopara's mind. It's not simply Warne's ability to read the game that was his genius, it is his capacity to script it too.
The unpredictability of this series has left pundits gasping about 'momentum' - as though it offered some clue as to why each side has ventured from sublime to pathetic in days. Momentum is certainly another media made concept. Uninhibited by developments on the field for the next 10 days, the media has a monopoly on building momentum about the state of each side.
Any hopes of a decent contest at the Oval rest on England genuinely believing they can win. Given the pivotal role the media will play in this, there's no coincidence that the Langer dossier was leaked when it was. It's facilitated the suspicion of panic in the England ranks. How England manage their public image amid the media clamour will be crucial.
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