Ashes series in Australia are tough, unrelenting affairs. They sap the will and force you to draw on every ounce of mental and physical stamina. Blood can be spilt, sweat can be shed and tears can be wept. At the end you're left in a state of drained exhaustion, thanking God (or perhaps Bob Woolmer) that you won't be involved in another one for four years.
And that's just those of us back in Britain.
I've been doing this sort of thing a long time (since the Brisbane Test of November 1974 to be precise) and it doesn't get any easier as you get older.
Take last night: Bed at 9.30. Up at 12.30 to hear Collingwood reach his hundred (though can't quite muster the energy to go downstairs and watch it). Sleep for a while, hear Pietersen reach his hundred, sleep for a bit longer and have a vivid and extremely enjoyable dream. Wake up at around 4.30 and realise that Collingwood's now gaining fast on 200 and decide it's time to stagger down and see it happen. Break into impromptu applause (heaven knows what the new neighbours think) when Collingwood lofts the ball for four to get there and remain rooted to the sofa until close of play.
Shave, shower, get dressed, switch on computer, type this and prepare for the rest of Saturday in the knowledge that, though England have had their second dominant day in a row, the pitch remains good and it's hard to see Australia capitulating quickly tomorrow. Which means I might get a bit more sleep.
And the players think they have it tough?
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