Chapter two begins

Here we go again, then. Another five days of tension, anxiety, and the impossibility of getting anything done at work. How on earth are we supposed to concentrate on a spreadsheet or report with all this going on? During the Trent Bridge test, 1.65 million people a day were following the action on the BBC’s online commentary alone; the Ashes are ruining the nation’s economic output.

No England supporter could possibly endure another five days like those in Nottingham. Our nerves and sanity would never hold up under that kind of strain.

Most people are expecting a quieter, calmer match at Lord’s. On both sides, nerves will have settled, the intensity diluted. And so it may prove. But events in Trent Bridge only underscored just how high are the stakes, and how every soul involved is all too painfully aware of them.

It feels like the toss today is huge. With batting conditions likely to be near-perfect, the coin-flip winner has a very significant opportunity to take control of the match. You’d hope that our team are better placed to capitalise than Australia.

Batting first would also give Jimmy Anderson another day’s rest. We cannot expect him to work miracles game in, game out. The other bowlers need to take the pressure off him.

And who will those bowlers be? In one sense, Finn’s destroyed confidence means he can’t play – but Lord’s is his home ground, a venue at which Tim Bresnan has always struggled. Personally, I’d have liked to see Chris Tremlett in the mix.

But we have no control over any of that. We are powerless over the events which between now and Monday evening will exert over our hearts and minds a grip as unrelentingly suffocating as Darth Vader’s telekinetic hand around the throat of Admiral Motti, the truculent Death Star officer. All we can do is open up the internet browser, or switch on Sky Sports Ashes, and try to survive the next five days.


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