Well that's it then, the Ashes haven't just been retained, but won, and we go into the final test at the Oval with a 3-0 lead. Broad was immense today, and Bell was superb yesterday. Bresnan and Swann also played their part with important runs in the morning and vital wickets in the afternoon.
299 looked an impossible target when Warner and Rogers went out to bat, but all credit to them, at 109 without loss, the stress levels were building. Rogers has been superb in this test and, although an Aussie, it was good to see a solid journeyman making the best of his opportunity at the grand old age of 35.
Warner is a different kettle of fish, but annoyingly I have found myself warming to him. He handled the abuse superbly at Old Trafford, interviewed well and batted with bravado in the second innings of both the tests he has played in. It took a superb ball from Bresnan to remove him today, and that was the turning point in the game, albeit Broad's brilliant delivery to bowl Clarke was every bit as important.
From that point forward, Broad was unplayable, although you have to feel sympathy for the Aussies because of the muddled way DRS is being employed. Bresnan benefitted from the "Umpire's call" when on 12, even though the ball was shown to be hitting the top of the stumps; yet both Watson and Haddin were dismissed with the marginal call going the other way because the Umpire's finger had already been raised. Cruel indeed, especially after England had wasted their two referrals.
There's no disputing that we are the stronger team, but Australia have pushed us close in all but one of the tests, and have been unlucky with both the toss and with DRS decisions. Yes we are winning 3-0, but it could so easily be 2-2 now - and huge credit for that has to go to Lehman and Clarke.
Like Warner, Clarke has made it impossible to loath him. We all laughed when he said, after Lords, that Australia could still win the Ashes, but if rain had not spared England in Manchester, who knows what might have happened? Australia were leading this game for two days and were still standing toe to toe until tea time today. And throughout, Clarke has been a model of dignity whilst proving a very astute captain. His bowling changes have been clever and his field placings often superb.
Credit also has to go to Ryan Harris who, for me, has been the stand out bowler so far. His spell this morning was every bit as good as Broad's this afternoon, and the ball that did for the brilliant Bell was superb, as was his throat ball that accounted for Broad.
So the last game at the Oval is now a dead rubber and the hope is that England give an opportunity to some fringe players ahead of the winter rematch. Bairstow has not done enough to merit his place and it would be good to see Taylor given a chance. Anderson, meanwhile, has been rank in the last two tests and could do with a rest. Tremlett knows the Oval pitch well and will be suited to the hard wickets in Australia, so is an obvious call. A case could also be made for Jos Buttler to come in for Prior, not because Prior should be jettisoned, but because he probably needs a break and it would be interesting to see what his young understudy can do.
Meanwhile, Clarke has admitted that Australia are being "outplayed" and that must be a huge worry for the Aussies given three key England players, Cook, Trott and Prior have been well below par in this series. If they get it right in Australia, we should win the series comfortably.