Amazing day of cricket yesterday, but no chicken counting just yet. Meanwhile, a quick update on my pre-series predictions, which are holding up rather well:
my first stab at predicting failed to factor in a drawn Cardiff test, the revised one was a 2-1 victory to whoever won at Lords. Which was England.
2. Top run scorer:
England - Cook. Whoops. Strauss has run away with this, but everyone else in the top 5 has been a bit of a letdown. No. 6 Matt Prior is 2nd to Strauss, both on runs scored and batting average. Cook's place may now look shaky - time to give Denly a go?
Australia - Michael Clarke. Barring a traditional Oval match-saving 158 from another Aussie, Clarke is the top scorer by a mile. The new Ponting.
3. Top wicket taker:
England: Jimmy Anderson - this was looking fine until 2 innings ago, since when Broad has taken 11 scalps and suddenly it's young Stuart ahead of Anderson 17-12.
Australia: Mitchell Johnson, who somehow, despite bowling like Boycotts grandmother for most of the series, is on 20 wickets, level with Siddle and 1 behind Hilfenhaus. Could go to any of them. (update: it's Hilfenhaus by 2 wickets, 22 to 20, despite a late surge by Marcus North)
A note in passing: Broad is the only England bowler averaging under 40 for the series, whilst if you include Hauritz, the Aussies have 4 bowlers averaging under 33.
4. Crocks: Lee and Flintoff, which was 2/2 almost a month ago.
The temptation to take my Inbox of 101 emails (that's after deleting about 500 from Freecycle) down to the pub is almost overwhelming.
It's also hard not to think about the future, with Flintoff's farewell, and to wonder whether a bad series for Cook & Collingwood is just the fatigue of being ever-present, or the sign of something worse. Strauss's form has improved dramatically after he was dropped in early '08, and maybe every England player needs a 2-3 month sabbatical on rotation to keep them fresh and to stop them losing either form or fitness.
If England do win, it will be pretty amazing. Not least because, if you were picking your 11 of the series, only 3 England players (Strauss, Prior and Broad) would be in it. The Aussies have, overall, outbatted and outbowled England, but that's not reflected in the results. Instead the series has turned on particular sessions: the Cardiff rearguard, Anderson's Lords burst, Englands collapse at Headingley, and yesterday afternoon.
But let's see what happens today.....