Our partners use technologies, such as cookies, and gather data to give you the very best experience and to personalise the content and advertising.
Please let us know whether you agree.
By Stephan Shemilt
BBC Sport at Old Trafford
Exactly a couple of weeks from their past one, another day will be asked for by England.
They do to be able to save the Ashes, an urn they have been desperately clinging to for so long that their palms have no skin and the claws are ripped from the beds.
A fortnight back it was win or bust. There was also too much time left to be drawn. England either pulled off a glorious run-chase, or they were beaten.
In Old Trafford, there will be no pursuit, no more Ben Stokes endangering spectators with sixes, as they grab defeat from the jaws of success no Australians staring blankly into the distance.
It will be about survival – 98 overs of both over-my-dead-body repulsion of three tearaway fast bowlers.
Mere occupation of the crease, instead of trying to win the game, was the magnitude of the task even before the overdue carnage of Saturday, when England’s two greatest scorers of the first innings – Rory Burns and Joe Root – were all eliminated from Sunday’s equation by successive Pat Cummins deliveries.
At the stage, England were two wickets down to fewer runs than their counterparts were to goals in Wembley.
An Old Trafford crowd which had been treated to some day which was almost the show in microcosm was silenced by Even the drama. It was a greatest hits, except for Stokes.
There were times when wickets tumbled and the pace bowlers of either side seemed irresistible.
Jonny Bairstow was bowled because Jonny Bairstow is constantly bowled. His stumps aren’t a fortress to be defended with his life, than they’re vertical, however the pins at a bowling alley, paying more time knocked over.
Stuart Broad obtained David Warner because Stuart Broad always gets David Warner. Six times Warner’s third duck, in eight innings. Broad has left Warner his bunny – he nourish him lettuce and should keep him.
Since they will taunt Nathan Lyon, the England fans taunted Nathan Lyon. From the celebration stand, cricket’s equivalent of a nightclub only with stickier floors, it might have been mandatory to put on three layers to the times that the sun dipped behind a blur, but that didn’t cease Lyon being mocked each time he caught the ball.
His Headingley fumble might still haunts lyon – he has not taken a wicket because – but on the event within this series that England attempted to violin through a day that was last, it had been Lyon who breathed them out.
And, obviously, Steve Smith made runs since runs are always made by Steve Smith.
Yes, there were instances when Broad and Jofra Archer were flooding England fans with belief, to the point which each conversation seemed to end with”when we can only get Smith out”.
But Smith does not get out. Not , anyway. And here his sense of event failed . Whereas the allowance of one tiny mistake or error of judgement would have routed Old Trafford, Greater Manchester and the entire nation Smith’s egocentric love of batting proved to be the denial of a second of celebration.
In fact, since he moved through the gearshe proved that he’s more than simply maddening ticks, umpteen nudges off cover drives and the pads his footwork does not have right to allow.
In one Archer over, he also performed a short-arm pull like a guy whose arms were operated by a puppeteer, followed that up with a geometry-bending late cut to a delivery that has been over the leg stump and finished with an overarm burst at a bouncer that might have turned into a man playing tennis with a frying pan.
In the frivolity of it he still looked livid with himself, and holed out for 82, his lowest score of the show. The statement came soon after, enabling Cummins to provide the one-two combination that amuses Burns and Root.
Only lately, England have not been very good at saving Evaluation matches. The previous time they batted to conserve a match Sir Alex Ferguson Smith had yet to make a Test decision and Sam Curran was only 14.
They used to do it. Matt on the same 2013 excursion of New Zealand at Dunedin in Auckland and Steven Finn. Graham Onions double in South Africa in 2009-10.
Should they want Ashes inspiration, James Anderson and Monty Panesar in Cardiff is a decade past this season.
To get something on this floor, they can look to the way the 2005 Australians defied England about the day that tens of thousands were locked outside.
And imagine when they pull it off. A finale at The Oval this summer of all summers truly deserves.
Analysis and opinion from the cricket correspondent of the BBC.