Day four at Sydney

Stumps:  Australia 213-7 and 280. England 644.

Three wickets. Smith, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, and Beer. Just three of those separate us from the fulfilment of our dreams.

Ridiculously, I still harbour a bizarre nightmare in which Smith and Siddle put on 200 for the eighth wicket. They’ve already added 42.

But we’re almost there, and God-willing, tomorrow we will celebrate, exult, and let loose our joy. Let’s just wait till those wickets are safely taken, and then the Aussie-goading can begin in earnest.

Today’s play was perhaps the most surreal of the whole series. Is this really happening? Are we in fact annihilating Australia, in Australia, grinding them into the dust, like the TV pictures suggest we are? It’s almost impossible to believe. The stats are incomprehensible – especially that we have scored 500 in four of the five tests, and 600 twice.

Humiliation after humiliation followed for Australia today. Our highest ever score in a test down under. Prior, Bresnan and Swann making monkeys of their bowlers. The farcical, ghastly Watson-Hughes run-out (you must watch this on the highlights – they found themselves at the same end, for no reason at all). And the crowing glory, to cap his wretched series – a golden duck for Super Mitch. Earlier, one of his new ball overs disappeared for twenty runs.

At lunch, Sky showed highlights, if you call them that, of our nightmare in Adelaide four years ago. That match will forever serve as a reminder that we will never, ever, show Australian cricketers the slightest hint of mercy or sympathy. Neither can we ever take anything for granted until the final wicket falls, or the final run is scored.

The only off-note arose from the TV shots of the England support cast. You have to feel sorry for Monty, Morgan and Shahzad, who played no part in the series, and for Finn and Broad, whose involvement was cut short. To be so close to the party, but not invited, or to have left early, and to feel you made no contribution to such an amazing achievement, must hurt like hell.

Till tomorrow. And three more wickets. Then, the party begins.

Maxie Allen

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