With a bewitching smile, Alastair Cook observed that now would be a good time to break the sequence of seven Tests consecutively won, lost and won. His press conference immediately after the extraordinary events at Edgbaston was a thing of practicalities - as they all tend to be unless Kumar Sangakkara is involved - though not without warmth and some nice asides. It was as if everyone was punch-drunk and happy to go with the flow.

The game could so easily have been over in two days. With about an hour to go on the second evening Australia were on the floor, 111 for 6, and it seemed certain that England would claim the extra half-hour to secure the kill. As it was, Peter Nevill hung on grimly, and the bout was extended for a few rounds on third day.

I have not seen a match like it, and certainly not after the reverse effect of the one before. Nobody, not even the long-haired fellow wrapped in the Union Flag, who sees only good in England cricketers, saw Edgbaston coming. Perhaps we should rethink our expectations. Batsmen reared on crash, bang, wallop simply don't have the patience. Bowlers weaned on four-over spells don't have the concentration. Nevill batted like something from the age of black-and-white television, when hour upon hour of Test cricket was played between gritted teeth.

David Warner was right when he implied that the crowd had adopted the triumphalistic mindset of football fans, though it was a bit soft when he suggested it was a tough atmosphere for visitors. Try Melbourne on Boxing Day. Edgbaston should be on the agenda for every series that matters. Never mind see and hear, you could feel the way Ian Bell, especially, and Steven Finn fed from the delirium.

Finn's match has been well celebrated but Bell is worthy of a moment's reflection too. The promotion was a master stroke and, though forced by Gary Ballance's sabbatical, it empowered Bell's uncertain mind. Both innings had a hint of "look at me" about them, and in their turn, changed the course of events in a hurry. On the first afternoon he set the tone by illustrating that the pitch was as exciting for batsmen as for bowlers. On the third afternoon he went after the short run-chase and put the game to rest. The blade of his bat is still too open when playing at balls wide of off stump but it is the only grumble.

I even liked his first-innings dismissal. Or rather, I liked his thinking if not his workmanship. In general, the innings reminded me of Viv Richards at No. 3, though Richards would not often have given his wicket away in such fashion. Sensing the force was with him, as Bell surely did, Viv would have thumped Nathan Lyon's teaser into the Bull Ring. Bell lost control of his shape and gave up on the shot, no doubt wishing he had not thought of it in the first place.

Bell is no Richards - who is?! - but the lesson is in the attitude. One man wishes he hadn't played the shot, the other bemoans the fact he didn't hit the ball into the middle of town. The trick for Bell is to keep preening his own feathers while not losing sight of his role within the team. He should keep using his feet to spin, but to defend on occasions and work singles on others. Playing spin aggressively is not all about the aerial route. Richards was not all bluster, or blaster. He had a ruthless mind.

Another good move by the selectors is to stick with Adam Lyth. Rather than look out of depth, he has looked out of sync. There is a rhythm in batting that is not necessarily obvious to the naked eye. It generally comes down to shot selection, and non-shot selection come to think of it - in other words, what you play and what you leave alone. In rhythm, these choices come naturally, out of rhythm they don't come over as choices at all. They become issues. Lyth has hit some boundaries that are worthy of a top-class batsman. He has caught the ball with good technique. In general, though, without doing much to change the course of a match, he has looked as if he belongs.

Liam Plunkett seems a good option to cover for Mark Wood. He has a big heart and good wheels. Mark Footitt has much to offer, not least pace, but I would be nervous of a newcomer out of Division Two at this make-or-break stage of an Ashes series, so would let him to soak up the atmosphere for now.

The country is talking about cricket again. Mind you, it is infuriating when a spat between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho takes over the back pages. This obsession with football in early August is an endemic problem for cricket. The window for the summer game is ever shorter. Only Test cricket shows well enough to capture the attention of the masses. That is Test cricket, the game the masses are supposed to have spurned for the joys of T20. There is nothing lasting about T20. It is a one-night stand. Test cricket is a lifelong love affair. Those in power who promote more of the shortest form and suggest that Tests are dying should think hard about why the crowd at Edgbaston became so animated.

The crowd identified with a battle not a skirmish. It had time to see the contestants unravel themselves. It marvelled at the skills on show, the beauty of their application and the courage needed to parade them. And it delighted in the nationalism that is so obviously behind the teams' desire to win through. Admirable as it is to be chosen to play one-day or T20 cricket for your country, nothing, truly nothing, comes close to being given a Test cap. At that press conference, Cook pointed out that careers are short and that moments such as the Edgbaston win are special and to be dwelt upon.

So special that Test cricket should be protected and promoted, not compromised by the dark force of the lowest common denominator.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel Nine in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK