Sport, without spin, from around the world. Matthew Hall considers the issues behind the headlines and tells the stories that others don't.
Australia prayed for rain, Ponting needs something more
Australia got away with a draw in the Third Test, but it did little to allay fears of another Ashes series loss.
"Only Cowards Pray For Rain" declared a banner at Sophia Gardens last month, presumably posted by an Australian fan having a laugh at England's best hope during the First Test.
How times can quickly change.
Time to confess. On Friday night, the white flag was hoisted high and I was on my knees praying for hard rain to fall on Birmingham over the weekend to spoil the Third Test.
English summer weather, it seemed, was likely to be Australia's only saviour.
While that is something which, as an Australian, is totally unacceptable it is maybe not as unacceptable as losing at Edgbaston to hand the Poms an insurmountable 2-0 lead in this Ashes series.
Message to Ricky Ponting. I can take what happened in 2005 once. But twice? We need to talk.
Here's the thing. This is far from a great England team. They have three very good players in Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff, and Jimmy Anderson and that's about it.
Australia, though, is not much better.
In this battle of mediocrity, no Australian has yet to stand up – except maybe Michael Clarke, whose two centuries in the series so far mean at least he's doing his job.
And that thing about Australia's team being young and inexperienced? Six of the team at Edgbaston is over 30 years old. With that comes not just official adulthood and a mortgage but a swathe of sporting guile and sensibility.
There were two moments during Australia's second innings that may have revealed what this series is all about.
When Ricky Ponting was bowled by Graeme Swann for a paltry five runs at a time when a captain's knock was definitely needed, the Aussie skipper remained stretched out contemplating the brilliant ball that had just split his wickets.
But Ricky P may also have been wondering about his own handling of the series.
Moment two: Michael Clarke's century (and the able rearguard support from Marcus North) will now be worrying for England.
Australia declared after waiting until Clarke reached his hundred.
Statistics can be everything in cricket and while this was not quite a devastating psychological blow to England, the hosts let Australia off the hook.
England had a big chance here to seize the initiative and maybe even the series. Now there would be little but frustration. Australia can grasp some confidence that all is not lost and that with a little more responsibility they may even win.
After a terrible start to the match, Australia prayed for rain, got it, and escaped from Edgbaston knowing that they can bat after all. We can forget that now.
But what we can't let slip is the often lame Australian bowling and questions over Ricky Ponting's captaincy and steerage of the team through this series.
He won't be the first skipper in recent history to oversee two Ashes losses to England.
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