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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 August 2005, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Jonathan Agnew column
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Michael Vaughan and Steve Harmison
Vaughan and Harmison can now look forward to Old Trafford
Never before can two runs have made such a colossal difference to a summer.

Had Australia managed to pull off what would have been one of the most remarkable Test victories ever, their 2-0 lead in the series would have effectively nailed down the Ashes.

The series might easily have drifted into obscurity beneath an avalanche of football news.

But now we have a terrific contest on our hands, and even the most patriotic Australian must concede that there must be a chance of England winning the Ashes.

The injury to Glenn McGrath is definitely a factor. Without him, captain Ricky Ponting has not only lost his main strike bowler, but also his controlling force - the man to whom he can throw the ball to tie up an end while Shane Warne weaves his magic at the other.

Without him, Australia have real problems, and this is exacerbated by the poor form of Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz.

Australia haemorrhaged runs at such a rate in this match that England raced along at five runs per over, which is unheard of in this level of Test cricket.

The visitors will seriously have to consider changing the make-up of the team and bringing in Stuart MacGill as a fifth bowler to support their attack.

As we head breathlessly for Old Trafford, the question is whether the whole series can be played at this rate
This would weaken Australia's batting line-up, which Ricky Ponting admits is under-performing.

But even with McGrath sidelined, England's positive approach to this Test has to be applauded.

They dragged themselves up from the depths of despair following their mauling in the first Test at Lord's to produce batting that was breathtaking in its approach.

The openers were positive from the start, even though they had been put in to bat, and this was continued throughout their two innings.

Michael Vaughan's firm-footed shuffle in the second opened the door for his third clean-bowled in four innings, and there is a technical flaw there.

And while he will be celebrating his team's narrow win, he knows he is overdue a score. He did look well set in the first innings here, but a needlessly casual stroke brought about his downfall.

As we head breathlessly for the third Test at Old Trafford later this week, the question is whether the whole series can be played at this rate.

The players must be exhausted both mentally and physically, and at least they have been granted an extra day off because this game moved so quickly.

They all need to be congratulated for producing such a memorable match, packed with entertainment and drama, and one that has set up an exhilarating series.

Interview: England captain Michael Vaughan

News conference: England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff


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