"They've got a debutant playing this week, which I think will play in our favour a bit. What does it say to us? It probably shows a bit of desperation I guess on their behalf, to be doing that."
- Ricky Ponting on Jonathan Trott, 19.8.09 (source: ABC)
Despite all the "Australia on top" rhetoric on Thursday night, the first day of the Fifth Test at The Oval was about as close to a statistical "honours even" as you can get.
Then came the seismic shift on Friday afternoon. Australia's batting turned to mush. Stuart Broad was looking more like the new Sir Ian Botham or new Andrew Flintoff MBE. (The 2nd Lord Broad of Notts, perhaps?) It was enough to make one forget about that groundbreaking moment from Friday morning - Jimmy Anders0n's maiden Test duck.
But to bring us up to date, Australia is 80 for 0 in their second innings, needing a total of 546 to win the game with two days remaining.
The Ashes are as good as England's. But if it's an omen, it wasn't the fat lady preparing to sing in the Test Match Special booth yesterday, rather an appearance by Lily Allen.
466 runs in a maximum of about 180 overs, ten wickets in hand to save the Ashes for Australia. It's just tantalisingly plausible... isn't it?
Jonathan Trott's Test debut hundred is the standout highlight of the match thus far, and is an event destined for cricketing folklore as long as England goes on to win today or tomorrow. There was something perversely fitting about Andrew Flintoff's last Test innings ending with a six-and-out swipe.
Ricky Ponting is about to enter the history books as the first Australian captain to twice lose the Ashes since the 19th century (Billy Murdoch to be precise). His smug pre-match sledging of Trott is worthy of epitaph status. In future, Ricky, take the less-is-more approach to press conferences so ably demonstrated this week by Darius Boyd. Or better still, leave the statements to your future captain, Michael Clarke.
Points so far in The Oval Tine, er, Test for the 2009 Midwinter-Midwinter:
Day One - Siddle 3, Bell 2, Strauss 1;
Day Two - Broad 3, Swann 2, Katich 1;
Day Three - Trott 3, Strauss 2, Swann 1.