It's written in the stars
As anyone who has been glued to Channel 4's coverage of this match must now be aware, this is, apparently, "the dawning of the age of Aquarius" - according to that infuriating car advert that accompanies the end of every over. With England's star in the ascendancy and Australia's apparently on the wane, Cricinfo decided it was time to cast its gaze into the crystal ball to see what the astrologers had to make of a crucial final day at Old Trafford.
Justin Langer, a Scorpio, failed to heed the warnings of The Sun's Mystic Meg. "It's clear you have something to be getting on with today," Meg told Langer, "so get on with it." Alas, he muddled "getting on" with "getting out", and edged through to Matthew Hoggard in the second over of the morning.
She may have been hopeless at picking the winning Lottery numbers in her TV days but Meg, a keen cricket fan, believes she has identified Australia's key man in what she expects to be a charge for the line. She urged Simon Katich to draw strength from his inner lion and had this message for the brave Leo. "The perfect sun/moon mix makes this the day to trust your talent and really go for it."
Meg has been keeping a close eye on Jason Gillespie, too, and hinted darkly that it may be time for him to think about quitting Test cricket: "You have the dash of daring you need to try out for a very different kind of job." However, she didn't say whether, when this ambitious Arian called her premium phoneline for further advice, his call would be forwarded on to Metallica's manager.
Meg was determined to leave no stone unturned in her analysis of this vital Ashes day. So she turned her attentions to the state of the deteriorating pitch, and had this advice for Shane Warne, a Virgo. "At work, you can see beyond surface appearances," said the sage Meg, "and you know what is really on offer." Another late charge with the bat for Warne?
Better news for England, and their captain Michael Vaughan. "An ambition that you have had for up to a year suddenly gets its chance now that the sun and moon are working for you." Not to mention the crowd at Old Trafford who will be a key extra player today, as the TV pundits have yet, unaccountably, failed to mention.
Hoggard and Simon Jones, both pro-active Capricorns, were given a boost, meanwhile, by The Metro's astrologer, David Wells. "If you think you have the wherewithal to get something done," he said, "then go right ahead."
Wells has been worried about Ricky Ponting's alleged fracas with Warne, and offered a healing touch to Australia's beleaguered captain, a Scorpio. "What about dealing with something close to home?" he coaxed. "A domestic needs resolving."
But what exactly is the Age of Aquarius anyway? "This order appears to be the reverse of the familiar order of the signs of the zodiac," according to a cod-astrology website. Now, if that doesn't mean the Ashes are coming home, I don't know what does. Oh, but what's this? "The dawn doesn't occur until 2648AD ..."
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo