For a game played for hours over a number of days over a series of matches, things can change quickly in Test cricket.
England doesn’t know that. It was the curse of all chains knowing that trouble lurked around every corner, the unsinkable buoy for their own incompetence always swaying a wave away.
On a historic day in Hobart, the first host of a men’s match played at the Ashes, England once again demonstrated their unique ability to transform a center from moderate control to complete disaster in the blink of an eye.
Time and time again in the series, Australians don’t often have to get themselves out of prison, but wait until England forgets to lock the cell door and take a walk outside.
It started in Brisbane, when England were 6-236 to Australia and under 100 ahead in the first rounds and left them running for all 425. Then in their second innings, England collapsed from 2-223 to 297, and the test was over.
At Adelaide the Australians fell to 4-55 in their second innings, working their way up to the advertised 9-230.
And then there was Melbourne, either trough or climax depending on how you look at it.
You might not remember England had Australia at 6-180 and still late before tea on day two of that test. Even when Australia came out late in the day, the lead was under 100 and the match was going on.
Within 28 shows, four of which became famous from the hand of Scott Boland, were flatly discontinued.
But this chaos in Hobart may harm Joe Root and his weary travelers.
When Australia slipped to 3-12 early Friday afternoon, it was largely in line with the course of play. This was England taking conditions that fit them almost perfectly and using them in the manner of a professional and skilled cricket team.
Then, in the heart-stopping red sugar rush an hour before dinner, the dominance was lost. By tea, gone and forgotten.
The credit goes, of course, to Australia, who defied conventional wisdom and counterattacked when faced with the toughest questions they were asked in the series.
Marnus Labuschagne was the instigator, and played some great shots in his short stay. Unfortunately, none of them will ever be remembered for their comic sacking.
If you see someone throw this way in a video game, you will immediately replace them. Who can tell whether it is a reflection or an indictment of the modern game that the number one test hitter in the world can be thrown while moonwalking face-down two feet outside his torso.
But no matter how that ends, Labuschagne has already set the tone. And from that launch pad, Travis Head stole the show.
Head played similar roles in Brisbane to take that test away from England, but this was even more impressive. The fear of his blows was offset by the degree of difficulty, as he drove, slashed and slashed with a shocking English shell every bit of Bellerive.
He made his way into the second century of the series and then immediately ended his roles. He came, invaded, and left again in a flash, leaving England only to rub their eyes in amazement at what had just happened to them.
Meanwhile, if their predicament wasn’t bad enough, England have had to watch as the next generation star in Australia takes his most decisive step yet towards his potential at the level.
Cameron Green failed to make his first test century, but for the first time in his young career he showed a true version of himself with the bat. This was the leading, technically safe and extremely confident green who had terrorized first-class cricket and inspired such devotion from those who saw him at his best.
He defeated England when they resorted to their last tactic of the good old fast leg theory, but may have fallen victim to his forgiving immaturity by walking straight into the trap.
And with a fine drizzle falling to end the day’s play, it was felt that Australia had already done enough in these roles.
The English field players stumbled after the balls and fell on them at the border. Many injured, the Australian hitters chose the weakest among them to thrill the singles, and took extra rounds on underarm limp throws from the frontier.
The reason this team has proven frail will be one of the post-series investigations, but on the first day in Hobart, all it took to bring England down again was a gentle nudge.