THE ASHES is all over as a series. There is more chance of pigs flying over Sydney Harbour Bridge than this Australia side coming back from 2-0 down and reclaiming the urn.
It looks to me that the tourists have accepted that they are the inferior team, so they now have to regroup, set new targets and ask themselves what they can still get out of this.
Clearly it is the batsmen who are letting them down. Ashton Agar aside, their attack is decent, though the loss of James Pattinson with a back injury is a blow. Their problem is that they are bowling at one of the most experienced top fives in cricket, apart from Joe Root – and he came close to a double century on Sunday.
Root and Ian Bell aside, England should also be doing far better in the batting stakes. Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and, if passed fit, Kevin Pietersen will be expected to perform better at Old Trafford.
The home team’s main concern now will be keeping their bowlers – and it has so far been James Anderson and Graeme Swann doing the damage – in prime condition for the rest of the year, especially with another Ashes looming.
That means using them sparingly once the series is officially wrapped up, but I don’t think they’ll be left out altogether. England will want to win 5-0 and the likes of Anderson will definitely be eager to play in every Test.
England look to be sniffing the whitewash now. They were better in the second Test than they were at Trent Bridge and I expect them to be better still when hostilities resume in Manchester.
I have to concede that Australia’s lack of competitiveness has taken some of the edge off the current Ashes series, as some have suggested. If England win the third Test next week, it will only subside further.
But I definitely think that we should put those concerns to one side and focus on just enjoying our period of dominance. After all, there was not much to cheer a decade ago when the Aussies were grinding us into the dirt.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.