And welcome to live coverage of day four of the fourth Ashes Test which begins with Australia four wickets into their second leg and still 162 runs behind. We could safely conclude that England would claim victory today and earn a day off to prepare for the litmus test at the Oval on Thursday, but for one small detail… Manchester rain. In fact, that’s not fair. For once, the rain is not particularly Mancunian, it is a deluge on the scale of the United Kingdom. The Test is therefore likely to suffer a washed-out day, as did day three at Edgbaston in 2009, day four at the Oval in 2013 and day one at Lord’s in 2019. All three of Test ended in draws and this one will likely follow unless the rain subsides enough today and tomorrow to allow perhaps four hours of play.
England enjoyed another day of celebration on Friday as the popular mood once again shifted from retribution to triumphalism. We live in a zero hero culture, not just in sport, and strident opinions slide between the two extremes without a single backward glance because no one keeps the receipts… Jonny Bairstow kept the receipts that made his dismantling of the press and public last night so unusual. Listen to his comments to Ian Ward or his interview on TMS with Jonathan Agnew and Michael Vaughan who seemed as shaken by his sarcasm as Australian bowlers had been by his biffs between lunch and tea. When they tried to lighten his mood, he politely stuck to his duty, refusing to play ball. Anger can be terrifying. It can also be very funny like Bairstow was last night.
Whether England have time to win this game or not, they seem to have every chance of winning at the Oval. For all the critics, all the cricket fans who wanted this to fail because of Key’s approach. McCullum and Stokes are somehow inappropriate, offend their sense of tradition and sacrifice, they can get what they want and England ultimately won’t find the Ashes playing this way. They made it clear that they would not change. And I don’t think that’s stubborn or stupid. It’s a sense of purpose and dedication to each other and the long-term benefit of the game that is quite admirable.
This article is originally published on nouvelles-dujour.com