It will take a miracle for Australia to keep the Ashes after a completely disastrous day at the Oval.
A horrid pitch and solid English bowlers, coupled with a reasonable performance by the English Batsmen yesterday have left this story well and truly in its final chapter. Indeed, how the mighty can fall. After a Five-Zero crushing in 2005-2006, the English may have finally exacted revenge for what happened in the last series.
After less than a day's play, Australia have been reduced to 8 for 133, chasing England's first inning's score of 332. With only two wickets in hand, and neither of them batsmen, it looks grim.
It will take an act of absolute divine intervention to save Australia, as it trails a miserable 200 runs behind the English. Another Adelaide? Unlikely. I can't even bring myself to watch.
The annoying thing is that I could suffer and accept defeat from the English in any other circumstances... barring one completely insufferable and mediocre player who is now destined to go down as a hero of English cricket. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the Queen knighted him when he retires after this match.
I am of course referring to Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff. A man with a more checkered career is hard to imagine. He's not broken any records to speak of, his form is seasonal at best, and he is - as a whole - potentially the most over-rated English cricketer that I've ever had to watch.
To hand over the Ashes to Flintoff is worse than defeat. Oh yes. It really does add insult to a grievous injury.
Alas, this is how it shall likely be. The condition of the pitch will only get worse, and England's competant line-up of spinners will have a hell of a fun time dispatching the meager Australian resistance, and as Ricky Ponting was foolish enough not to take any spinners of his own, I half expect England to post another 300-run innings before declaring and then once more dispatching Australia cheaply for a 500-run victory to the Barmy overtones of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot".
Yes Keith, as I'm sure you're reading this, I will swallow my pride and say that England have played as the better team. You have one this one... But the next series is barely a year away, and now I really want to see if you can keep it!