Who ever wins deserves it, I’ll say that much. The post mortem will be severe if Australia lose. Why no Lee? Why only Clark in the last two matches? Why stick with Hussey after over a year of non-performance? Poor captain’s decisions at crucial moments. Why take an untested debutante in Hughes over? If they do lose, there will be a nother culling of the ranks like 2005: Hussey should get dropped, I suspect one of the bowlers will lose their spot for a long, long time (should be Johnson, probably Siddle, if Hilfenhaus does it will be a travesty), and Ponting will lose the captaincy (big question is will he stay on in the team after losing it?) or at least have a long meeting with the ACB.
If England lose, they will do what they always do: wholesale slaughter. Slaughter in the press. Slaughter by the selectors. Flintoff is going, Cooke will get dropped. Bopara will get dropped. Bell will get dropped. Harmisson will probably be dropped. Papers will ask why no Onions, why no Trott earlier to replace Bopara, or KP when he was ruled out. They will go looking for a new keeper to replace Prior, and if there’s a new flavour of the month in a county somewhere he will get in. Collingwood will be on a knife-edge for the next year. That’s why England have over 600 capped players to Australia’s low 300s.
We’re two out already – both openers. If Hussey wanted to keep his spot, he’d put in a huge knock with the captain, and both of them would need to be there at the end of the day. If Ponting wants to keep his captaincy, and maybe even keep his career going, he will put in a captain’s knock. If Clarke wants to be a stand-alone hero (because, if they lose, only Clark, North, Hilfenhaus, and Clarke will be noted for performance), he will put in a good bash. If Haddin wants to step out of the shadow of Gilchrist, he will play a huge knock. And if the tail wants people to forget its sometimes woeful bowling, it will wag.
Uphill battle, but not over until the last wicket falls.