We're all carrying too many scars from great England disasters of the past not to remain convinced that Australia will knock off the 546 runs they require with 10 wickets to spare. But if England do manage to regain the Ashes, at least Andrew Flintoff (who has been known to take a glass or two on these occasions) won't require an anaesthetic when he goes in for another knee operation on Tuesday.
However, don't be surprised this time if the bloke in the dark glasses staggering around the top deck of the open-topped bus and recycling the champagne on to the prime minister's hedge is not the retiring hero, but someone who's never even bowled a ball or scored a run for England.
Victory will presumably result in the traditional award of MBEs to everybody who's done his bit for England this summer, in which case Rudi Koertzen, Billy Bowden and Asad Rauf are absolute certainties for a gong. But while England owe a serious debt to a set of umpires who really ought to have been sponsored by Specsavers rather than Emirates, if you measure these things in order of importance, nothing less than a knighthood will suffice for the Oval groundsman.
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