I'm a pessimistic sod, and so, as an English fan, expected bad, bad things going into the Ashes.
Now, of course, that pessimism has been somewhat chastened, but I desire to let myself get too confident: that way, a Ponting a hundred and a good, old-fashioned English batting collapse lie.
Australia's batting slump can't go on forever. Phillip Hughes and Steven Smith are talented young batsmen; Michael Clarke has found his feet; Hussey's yet to fail this series and it's foolish to expect that Ponting won't hit back in time. Remember, Britons, with a shudder, the second innings at Old Trafford.
Against this imposing line-up England have a crippled unit. Stuart Broad, their fastest bowler, has been lost to injury while Tremlett, Bresnan and Shahzad were as effective as a—well—Bollinger this weekend. No, I wouldn't be surprised to see more runs than a nervy English debutante that no one warned not to eat out in India.
Australia's bowlers could be more effective in this test. Perth should suit Ryan Harris and, if he can get his act together, Mitchell Johnson better than Brisbane or Adelaide.
And, while Peter Siddle had a rotten game last week, a man who took a hat-trick against England and, remember, skittled them out for a hundred last year isn't just an, er—angry porcine face. An on-form Shane Watson and perhaps some leggies from Steve Smith will give Ponting the extra firepower that Strauss call upon while, though even a piece as facetiously Aussiephilic as this isn't going to predict marvellous things for Michael Beer, it would be foolish to discount an unknown quality.
Nick Cook, Peter Taylor and one Graham Swann were all obscure or unexceptional performers who made a quick impact on the international scene.
They'll be bowling at a team who've yet to really prove themselves. Three innings—one of which was a failure and another of which was enacted by the top three batsmen—aren't enough on which to judge a batting lineup.
Strauss, despite a brilliant hundred, has looked shaky early on; Collingwood seems of touch and Prior's hardly got a bat. Naturally, any one of those, or the in-form Bell, or last game's centurions could perform superbly, but against a strong attack and on a less-friendly pitch, it's dangerous to assume they will.
Against the Aussies, Pakistan and even Bangladesh England have looked fragile at times. They've got much to prove.
England have had all the luck. Injured opponents? A freak run out? Pietersen getting a wicket? Let's face it, England have played well, but they've had all the luck.
Well, except for the first three days when the Australians ran riot. Oh, ye sons of Albion, that pendulum shall swing again!