The international season should have come mercifully to an end today. England will play India in the final match of a one-day series they have already won.
India can barely wait to go home. They made that much pretty clear by steadfastly declining invitations to the annual ICC awards dinner in London the other night, although their hotel was barely 15 minutes away. He who is tired of ICC awards bashes in London is tired of life.
But they will doubtless dash from Cardiff to Heathrow for their flights home. For England it is not the end of the affair. Most of their players will be involved in the belatedly scheduled Twenty20 matches which are to be played at The Oval next Friday and Sunday. Not all of them, it is true, have had long international seasons but enough have been involved in all forms of the game to consider it excessive. Graeme Swann, having been handed the captaincy, will now not think so.
Today's dead match is unlikely to find England at their most doggedly determined but they will certainly wish to deprive India of a last-gasp solitary international victory. The tourists, for their part, have just about kept going, as they demonstrated in the tied match at Lord's last Sunday.
England already have one eye on the return series in India next month when they are well aware that they will not have pitches which encourage sideways movement. Give India a sniff at this late stage and it may make it more difficult for them still away from home.
Whatever happens, Alastair Cook can reflect on a sound start to his tenure as one-day captain. Both the summer's series, against Sri Lanka, by 3-2, and now against India, have been won.
"We know how tough it's going to be in the next two months or so, but this side has always responded well to challenges," said Cook. "We are a very young side trying to make progress. The exciting thing is I don't think we've played as well as we can."
England have a doubt about Ben Stokes with a recurrence of the dislocated finger which kept him out for two months of the season. It has not fully recovered and when he was hit on the hand during practice yesterday it might have set him back. Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler of Somerset have been called up as cover.
There will be one enforced change for Cook to make, with the injured Stuart Broad's place likely to go either to the clever seam bowler Jade Dernbach, who has impressed when he has been called upon, or Samit Patel, the spin bowler-cum batsman.
England (possible): A N Cook (capt), C Kieswetter (wkt), I J L Trott, I R Bell, R S Bopara, B A Stokes, S R Patel, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, J M Anderson, S T Finn.
India (possible): M S Dhoni (capt & wkt), P A Patel, A M Rahane, R S Dravid, V Kohli, S K Raina, R A Jadeja, R Ashwin, P S Kumar, R V Kumar, M M Patel.
Umpires B Doctrove (WI) & N Llong.
Pitch report Late summer in Cardiff is unlikely to be a paradise for either discipline. It may be the sort of surface on which both sides are grateful to eke out 235.
Weather Cloudy with sunny intervals and a chance of thundery rain in the afternoon. Maximum temperature: 18C
TV Sky Sports 1, HD1,1:30-10pm
Highlights: Channel 5, 12.15-1:10am.
Odds England 7-10; India 11-8.Reuse content