With little live play to talk about at Edgbaston yesterday, former England and Australia cricket stars resorted to lively exchanges about past Ashes tests. Paul Bradley went behind the scenes in the commentary box.
It was the scene of one of the greatest cricket matches the game has ever seen.
Showered in sunshine, a packed Edgbaston watched Steve Harmisson steam in to bowl to the last Australian batsman, Michael Kasprowicz, knowing three runs would win it for Australia and put them 2-0 up in the 2005 Ashes series after two Tests.
England and their supporters were on their knees.
But then the miracle all England fans had prayed for happened - Kasprowicz was caught by the wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, England won the match and Michael Vaughan’s men went on to win the series 2-1.
The Urn and her ashes had come home.
Flip forward four years, glossing over a 5-0 whitewash in Australia on the way, and Edgbaston was ready to let battle commence between the oldest of cricketing foes yesterday.
Until the rain set in, that was.
Ground staff worked busily overnight to prepare the pitch for the morning and as the sun poked out behind a couple of mischievous grey clouds, buoyant fans marched down the Bristol Road, confident of an 11am start and a successful days play.
“It will be over by lunch” the Aussies barked provocatively. “We’ll do you in three days - the rain won’t save you."
Their thick warrior-like accents were almost tangible as they looked for a reaction from their Pommie counterparts.
But the strangest of things happened as the crowd began to fill the ground.
England fans threw back their shoulders, pushed out their chest, raised their chins high - and refused to be intimidated.
Knowing smiles accompanied looks of comfortable confidence.
England were winning the series 1-0, they had shown “un-England-like” resilience to save the game at Cardiff and the aggression to bowl Ricky Ponting and his boys out at Lord's.
Further evidence of England’s dominance could be seen in the Sky Sports commentary box.
Scoffing sandwiches off-air Sir Ian Botham, Twitter newbie David “Bumble” Lloyd, Michael Holding and Shane Warne were deep in conversation.
The suggestion from within the commentary box that Warwickshire favourite Ian Bell could hit a “big hundred” against the Aussies drew an “if you bowl under arm to him” scowl from Warne. And it wasn’t long before the conversation turned back to the Edgbaston Test in 2005.
Silence descended in the room as Warne bawled: “Remember the second innings when Flintoff and Jones were hitting us everywhere?
“I had Flintoff out plumb LBW. Billy Bowden didn’t have a clue. We should have won that test.”
As Sky statistician Benedict Bermange confirmed, Warne’s memory was accurate and the greats of English cricket decided against arguing with Warne.
They knew he was grasping at historical straws, that this time round, England were the favourites, and to put it bluntly, Australia were no more than an ordinary team in comparison with the greats of the past 20 years.
But it would not have been English to point this out and the legends remained silent.
Outside thousands of supporters sat in the uncovered stands, huddled under umbrellas, hoping for a glimpse of their heroes in action.
The umpires teased them with pitch inspections at 11am, 2pm and 3.30pm, but wouldn’t put them out of their misery by calling play off for the day.
The Ashes, so long a distant prize, was within reach again and people were travelling from far and wide to be part of history, just like in 2005.
It can rain and it can pour this weekend in Birmingham - but the fans will sit through torrents in hope of seeing the world’s greatest cricket series in full flow.