I've started to feel about this England cricket team like I did about the rugby team in 2002 - even when they're losing I keep thinking they'll fight back! But for Cook getting out last night I would have been confidently predicting they'd bat day 5 out, but now I'm more than a little concerned! Is it too much to hope for a Cardiff-esque 10th wicket stand between Anderson and Panesar? I hope not!
So with that backdrop, it feels a little bit rash to criticise the Aussies, but I'm English so it's essentially my job (as it is there's to criticise us Poms). So what is going on with their batting line up? Only Warner (just) averages over 40 other than Michael Clarke. It really is one of the weakest Australian batting line ups to have played in a couple of generations.
Interesting then the way Australia handled (or mishandled) the older guys reaching the end of their career last year. And that's not just the Australian selectors, it's the Australian public who were right on the backs of Ponting and Haddin prematurely. It should never have been about whether they were as good as they once were - they didn't need to be. As long as they were in the best Australian XI they should have been encouraged to carry on playing.
Ponting dominating Australia's domestic cricket this season with an average of nearly 90 is interesting. And Haddin also had a dominant year. Can Australia really say that they have a stronger XI without Ponting? For one thing it's unlikely that their team ethic would have slipped with him there and Clarke wouldn't have found himself so entirely alone.
There's even been rumours of Hussey coming back for The Ashes, such is the current disaster. Good luck getting that top 7 ship shape in the next few months Australia - even if England bat like they have in the 3rd NZ Test they'll still be big favourites....