However, the rest of the morning was Australia's, as England only added 49 to their overnight score to finish on 375, posing Australia a target of 311, which as yesterday's post suggested, is a huge target for Australia. In the half-hour England had to bowl at Australia, they failed to pose much threat, which set up the rest of the day's play nicely.
Today at Trent Bridge was a fancy-dress day, so I took the opportunity to walk around the ground at lunch to view the various outfits. Amongst the Mexicans, Oompa-Loompas, convicts and Smurfs were a variety of outfits undeniably unsuitable for the viciously hot weather - the tone being set by a polar bear outfit we spotted outside (part of a environmental protest), also spotted were other thick full-body costumes, such as a dinosaur, a camel and Jabba the Hut (see left).
This all seemed like good fun, although my experience of my fellow cricket-goers today was not altogether positive, as I spent the day finding myself irked by other fans, be it the bizarreness of the teen who sat in front of us and read a Lee Child novel without watching the cricket, the thoughtlessness of the family who tried to have a conversation whilst stood directly in our way during play to the out-and-out loathsomeness of the Mexican waves which blighted the evening session. Please, cricket fans, save the Mexican waves for a rain delay in a domestic Twenty20 game full of students, not during play in a Test when the match was thrillingly poised, with tension only the game's purest form can offer.
I took grim pleasure from applauding the section of fans who unwittingly broke the Mexican wave - similarly, we applauded James Pattinson reaching a century of runs against during the England innnings. A fine effort.
This brought Steve Smith (above right) and Australia's main man Michael Clarke together, and they put in a very hard-working partnership to bring Australia back into the match. Once again, a key partnership was ended by Stuart Broad, who found the slightest of edges from Clarke. Once the umpires had used the TV replays to determine if the ball had carried, and given Clarke out, the Australian captain immediately referred it, only for Hot Spot to send him on his way. It was a curious moment to see a decision reviewed on the big screen twice, and satisfying to see Clarke not walking after yesterday's shenanigans.
Australia, clearly in shock after the huge loss of their talisman, rapidly moved their chances in the match from bad to bleak when Smith was plum leg-before from Swann the very next ball, and not only after Phil Hughes suffered the exact same fate via a perfectly-judged England referral. It seems a shame that the referral system is playing such a huge and controversial part in the Test, and we expressed those sentiments at the time, in the form of clapping, cheering, and waving Hughes on his way.
A breathtakingly frantic period of play, where Australia had lost three wickets for three runs, led to a very sedate final half-hour, where Brad Haddin and the newly-promoted dangerman Ashton Agar saw off the England threat to close the day on 174/6, with another 137 runs required.
With all four results possible on a final day, albiet with some results more likely than others, we can take this moment to quickly look ahead to the rest of the series and see if the series can be predicted from batting form in the first Test.
To look at whether batting form predicts how well a team will go on to do in a series, we have used the total runs scored from the first and second innings from the side batting first (the side batting second’s total will be skewed by having targets to chase) over every Test in the last 10 Ashes series. Below is a graph showing this data:
We can see that at the lower end of the scale total runs is quite poor at predicting a series result. However, if a side makes over 700 runs in the first Test, they seem a lot more likely to win, with only two results breaking this pattern. We can also see that overall, scores made in the first Test are a lot higher than in the other Tests. This strongly suggests that over the rest of the summer we might not see scores as high as the 590 England have made.
With that total, England can take some confidence from this, since of the 25 Tests where a side has scored a combined 590 or higher, 18 have resulted in series wins, and 5 out of 5 first Tests have. But it is still in the midst of the range on this graph, so it certainly isn't a hugely confident predictor.
The number of runs made in a first Test seems quite good at predicting a series winner once we start getting to the higher scores, although it is no means perfect. A major pattern seems to be that scoring above 700 runs puts a team in good stead for the series.
England clearly fell short of this, but their total seems to have put down a good marker for the side.
Securing a win tomorrow, however, is a much more immediate concern.