We’ve almost certainly written about this 12 times before, but cricket is at its best when the value of a run is greatest. A drop of rain is more gratefully received in the Outback than in the Lake District.
It’s hard to judge what would be a decisive lead going into the final innings at Chester-le-Street, but it feels like every edge and every leg-bye are crucial.
The new ball seems disproportionately important too. In its youth, the ball is zesty and enthusiastic and pings about in all sorts of weird and threatening ways, while middle-age appears to bring only pudding-y predictability.
When England bowl, it will surely be a case of how much damage they can do and how quickly. Once the ball has been subdued by the realisation that life is pointless and infuriating, they won’t get much more out of it and will instead have to wait until they’re allowed to trade it in for a new baby (analogy implodes).