It's common for us to bemoan the back-to-back international schedule that rules cricket today. But thanks to England losing in three days, we've been treated to a rare period of reflection.
With no Ashes cricket on offer, Ashes selection has been the only thrill to latch on to. Selection is a tough job - or so we keep hearing - so much so that Miller’s panel have given up selecting all together. Instead they roll out largely the same team that has been mediocre for years. Cook and Bell have made no progress since the last Ashes series and should be dropped. The selectors inertia over the past three years is why England have a debutant replacing Bopara for the ‘Biggest Test Ever’. It reeks not so much of bad planning as of an absence of planning at all.
With one hand on the urn and a batting pitch, Australia will feel inches from a goal that seemed miles away on Day 4 at Edgbaston. England, as underdogs are back in their familiar comfort zone. Without clouds it is difficult to see where England could find inspiration. Harmison won’t bowl teams out and Flintoff, even when fit, never has.
The Oval promises to be an emotionally charged, feverish clash of attritional cricket. The fairy-tale finish seems out of England’s grasp, but first innings runs and swing for Anderson would make a good game.