It’s Wednesday, and the fourth Ashes Test is very, very nearly upon us. After Ben Stokes’s heroics at Headingley hauled England back from the brink of Ashes defeat, the series is tied at 1-1 with two Tests to go.
England have the momentum going to Old Trafford today (even if it may have subsided a little given the break since the last Test match) and there will be plenty of belief in the home stands and dressing room that there is no stopping Joe Root and the boys now. They have put themselves in a position to complete a remarkable turnaround and some fans probably reckon an Ashes victory is inevitable now.
It is probably worth a reminder though that Australia need only one win in the final two Tests to retain the Ashes they won down under two winters ago, and they also have a certain Mr Steve Smith back for this match. He has scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three innings so far in this series and England don’t really seem to have much of a plan against him, other than for Jofra Archer to send bouncers down.
As Michael Vaughan wrote in his column in today’s paper, Australia have been the better team so far in this series. It’s their Ashes to lose, and England will have to improve from top to bottom to avoid defeat in not one, but both of the remaining Tests.