I hate all the pessimism and cruelty and ignorance that has emanated over the last couple of days from England cricket 'fans'. Words like 'spineless' and 'gutless' are bandied around as if England don't care whether they win or lose, or somehow aren't trying their absolute hardest.
However, it is surely fair to point out some of England's deficiencies and ways in which they can be overcome. The side is undoubtedly unbalanced. The loss of the multi-faceted Andrew Flintoff has ripped the heart out of the team, leaving a shortened batting line-up, and a free-scoring wicketkeeper too high up the order. There is a simple way of overcoming this problem - bring Flintoff back. On one leg, hobbling on a crutch, in a wheelchair, whatever. Freddie must play at the Oval.
The other major problem that springs immediately to mind is the weakness of the middle order. Bopara, Bell and Collingwood are hardly names to strike fear into the Aussies. They are all short of runs and confidence, and it is difficult to see how things will change if they are left as they are. Perhaps Kevin Pietersen did have quite an important role to play for England after all.
There is obviously no chance of KP returning for the Oval, but two other former England players could bolster the batting. Mark Ramprakash would surely be a better bet than either Bell or Bopara. For every match, England should surely play their best side, and not many people would seriously suggest that Ramps is not one of the three best middle-order batsmen in the country. It wouldn't be a retrograde step - it would simply be a way of giving England the best chance of regaining the Ashes.
And what of Marcus Trescothick? Trescothick striding out to open the innings with Andrew Strauss at the Oval (with Alastair Cook to come at number three) would be a wonderful sight. I understand absolutely that he might not want to play for England again (even in a one-off occasion such as the Oval) and that is up to him. He must do what is right for him. But if he wants to play, he will give England a better chance of winning.
We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the series will be tied at 1-1 going into the final test. A win at the Oval and the Ashes will be coming home. When you look at the situation like that, suddenly things don't seem too bad.