07 September, 2005

Five day forecast

Five days of tension, or perhaps anti-climax. England take on Australia in the deciding match of the Ashes cricket series.

For those without scorecards, England need to avoid defeat (unlike their soccer compatriots, tonight). Draws (time runs out before a result) or ties (equal runs in allotted innings and time) are possible.

There are two crucial issues here. One is the weather. London could see rain on Friday and Saturday reducing the playing time. That favours a draw, which would mean England win the series and win the Ashes.

On the field, tomorrow's coin toss (flip) may hold the key to the game. Batting first at the Oval has historically been beneficial. It's a batting wicket (hitter's park), but conditions may get better for bowling as time goes on.

If England win the toss, they could bat themselves into a winning or, at least, non-losing position. Australia batting first, obviously, puts the pressure on England.

"...bowlers had better watch out because this is a ground on which batsmen can run amok."

This series has been one of the most eagerly anticipated sports events on these shores for years - certainly since Euro '96, possibly since the 1966 World Cup finals. What's more, the games have been excellent, exciting and played in an unbelievable spirit.>

The Oval holds just 23,000+. It could easily be filled 10 times over. This is the big one.

"The trophy was devised after a mock obituary which appeared in the Sporting Times after Australia defeated England in 1882: 'In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at the Oval.'"

A tiny urn holds the ashes of a bail: symbolising English cricket and its death. By Monday, English may be reborn for the 21st century.


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