Almost nothing has been certain for England before or during their visit, except that when you have thought a low ebb had been plumbed, it has been wise not to settle on it for too long, because another would come along promptly.
To sum up that uncertainty, the series concludes over the next five days with a pink ball, not a red one as originally scheduled, at a venue almost 2,000 miles from the planned host. Just about the only similarity between Hobart’s Bellerive Oval, a boutiquey beauty with sea views, and Perth’s Optus Stadium, an ultra-modern bowl, is that neither has hosted an Ashes Test before.
But by the time the teams crossed the Bass Strait to Tasmania this week, the sting had been taken out of the series’ tail by England’s tail’s brave rearguard in Sydney, averting a whitewash that at one stage felt inevitable. That had been the most competitive game yet, with England taking their first five-wicket haul and scoring their first hundred, then finding their way out of a hole.
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