It just keeps getting better!
Hitherto, I believed the best series I had ever seen was the Australian conquest of the final frontier that was thwarted by an inspired innings. I am forced to consign that epic to second place now, such has been the drama this series. For sheer non-stop goose bump inducing thrill, even that series is not a patch on the current one, Edgbaston onwards. One can choose to be cynical and point to England's seeming inability to hammer home the advantage when it matters most - that would be being picky at best; being utterly unkind to the heroics of Messrs Warne and Lee at worst. There is something about chasing these smallish totals batting last, the way teams defend them to death, suddenly injected with a belief as it were, that they can do the improbable. There is certainly no lack of precedent in the annals of test cricket. In the end though, there was almost poetic justice in the form of the ungainly Ashley Giles getting the winning runs, something that would have had his numerous critics squirming, even if many of them were cheering England on. To get back to Warne and Lee though, I don't think I have seen a more inspired effort to salvage a lost cause in recent times. Warne's self-belief and ability to strike terror into English batsmen borders on the mythical. And while that was somewhat expected, Lee has been a revelation, a breath of fresh air that has kept the series alive and one of the few sparks in an otherwise ragged Aussie camp. His triumphal roar on dismissing Flintoff with an out-of-nowhere zapper and his crisp, clean strikes on the third day will remain in memory. His batting has been a show of courage if nothing else, and what's more, he keeps coming back seemingly stronger after every blow, be it a bone-cruncher from Flintoff or an early innings caning from Trescothick. Here is an eager cricketer with heart that Australia can look to for inspiration, if the prospect of losing the Ashes isn't. The infamous beamers at opposition keepers not so long ago now seem gallingly out of character. Thankfully for Ponting’s men, they still can retain the Ashes, and if they do so, it will be one of the great escapes in sporting history. Can England stay strong and dig deep one last time? In any case, weather permitting, we should witness a rousing finale.