The news overnight that Kevin Pietersen has had surgery on his injured Achillies tendon and will miss the remainder of the Ashes series changes the balance yet again. Pietersen, Collingwood and Strauss form the nucleus of players the Australians most fear with the bat - the ones who could bat a Test away from you. With the most dynmic of the trio sidelined and likely to be replaced by Ian Bell, Flintoff's knee now goes under even more pressure.
Bell is an interesting character, a man with talent at the crease but often a self-destructor against the sternest opposition, especially Australia. He played with moderate success last time out in Australia with 300+ at 33, including four half centuries and it is his failure to convert fifties to hundreds that has been his constant boggey. He was recently dropped after failures in India and the West Indies but he can have greater hope if given another start in the 3rd Test because in his twenty Ashes innings, he has been out fifteen times to the missing trio of McGrath, Warne and Lee. Like others before him, Cullinan included, his natural ability has not yet overcome the confidence and mind dominance of his Australian or Indian opponents.
Lee is unlikely to play in the 3rd and must be a liability whenever.
England now have some problems and the balance has swung more towards the centre than it was twenty four hours ago.
Interesting game cricket!
By the way, a lovely anecdote I had never heard before from Alderman's bunny, Graham Gooch. Apparently after the 1989 series, he had a message on his answering machine, "sorry you missed me. I'm out ... probably lbw Alderman". Apologies if you've heard it before.