England have backed themselves into their biggest wicket-keeping crisis for 30 years.
Forget the arguments about Alec Stewart and Jack Russell, Alan Knott and Bob Taylor, Paul Downton and the late David Bairstow, Bruce French et al; Duncan Fletcher's unswerving support of Geraint Jones in the last 16 months is now a case of trying to defend the indefensible after two howlers on Saturday evening which might yet cost the Ashes.
Only 14 overs were bowled on the third day of the Old Trafford Test, but the two simple chances offered by Shane Warne and missed by Jones did two things.
The missed stumping and catch offered by the magnificent Warne halted the momentum of an England charge so completely that the bookmakers changed their odds about the regaining of the Ashes from odds-on to odds-against.
And it gave Australia an escape hatch from going 1-2 down in the series which England may yet close but, in the context of the match and the series, did untold damage to the morale of England and uplifted that of Australia.
Coach Fletcher did his usual Mandy Rice-Davies act - ("well, he would say that wouldn't he?") - by defending his faith. He described the chances thus. "The stumping chance bounced a bit and, as Mike Atherton said on television, the catch came from the Stretford End where the glare from the low sun did not help. Every wicketkeeper misses the odd chance and I think he has kept well in the match."
Absolute garbage and the sort of double-speak that seems to indicate that Jones is fire-proof for the rest of the series.
Has the sun never set below the yardarm from the Stretford End in the last 100 years and what about the sponsored sunglasses Jones was wearing, which are supposed to help rather than hinder?
The Atherton quote was a surprising abrogation of a commentator's duty to call it as he sees it. Your correspondent did a private trawl of the broadcasting boxes after close of play and, including Channel 4's star-studded team and that of Sky - six former Test captains - the unanimous verdict was "he's got to go."
Except he won't, not if the unspoken small print of these additional Fletcher remarks is examined.
" Batsmen- wicketkeepers around the world miss chances. For instance, Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara and Mark Boucher drop a few."
So they do, but Gilchrist averages 54 and has notched 15 hundreds in 84 Tests, while Sangakkara averages 41 including six hundreds in 35 Tests. Jones averages 28 in his 17 games for England.
Never mind that he is a nice guy and good team man. Never mind that the ranks of Team England close around anyone who under- performs. The brutal truth is that Jones is not among the best six England-qualified glovemen.
His tally of errors in two-and-a-half Tests in this series already includes five missed straightforward chances, together with a tally of at least 30 byes conceded by a clumsy pair of hands.
It is not his fault. He tries hard; he does not repeat mistakes on purpose and he does not pick himself.
The fault lies with Fletcher and Michael Vaughan who, controversially, picked him ahead of Chris Read 16 months ago for the Antigua Test and have stuck with him through a bit of thick and a great deal of thin in the 18 Test matches since then.
His tally of missed chances - mostly straightforward - is ten catches and three stumpings, as well as his concession of 189 byes in 18 Tests. Namely 10 byes and an average of nearly a missed chance per match.
The definitive analysis after his Lord's embarrassment came from ex 'keeper Taylor, the most mild-mannered character whose succint criticism was akin to that of Enid Blyton uttering a string of four- lettered expletives.
"It seems that Fletcher thinks it is easier to make Jones into a Test-class wicketkeeper than to turn Chris Read into a better batsman. I don't agree."
A former England new-ball bowler, now a leading media man both in print and sound, said: "It eats away like a worm in the dressing room. Players are supportive and will tell Jones not to worry, but they know that those two chances have changed everything.
"They could have had the choice of the follow-on. Even if they hadn't enforced it, a lead of over 200 would have given them the chance of batting Australia out of the match and leaving them around 100 overs in which to take 10 wickets. England might still win the game, but that is not the point."
There may have been only 14 overs bowled on Saturday, but Warne and Jones ensured there was plenty to talk about.