THE fourth Ashes Test match begins today. It promises to be a Titanic struggle between two mighty, unmovable sides, each flawed, but each determined to win through for their country.

People will be following it in all manner of modern ways: silently following a ball by ball, minute by minute blog; constantly getting updates on their phones showing them videoclips of the most exciting bits of action – a six from Stokes or a smash on the head for Smith.

And so it was yesterday, with a day of Parliamentary drama unfolding in the most incredible of fashions taking Britain to the brink of an election as it plumbs the depths of this national crisis.

There were some amazing moments: the cold fury of Philip Hammond, previously the most boring of politicians, as he laid into Boris Johnson; the Daily Telegraph, the most hard Brexit paper of them all, revealing that Mr Johnson’s negotiations with the EU were “a sham”; Labour claiming that the Government was stockpiling bodybags because it knew there would be an increase in deaths following a no-deal Brexit.

Just like bespectacled tailender Jack Leach scoring a single in the last Test, so a clip of a single MP taking his seat on the wrong bench was a clip of must-see video: Tory MP Phillip Lee defecting to the LibDem side of the House as Boris Johnson was talking wiping out the Prime Minister’s majority.

There was some extraordinary sledging. Sir Oliver Letwin, a former Conservative Cabinet member, turned on the Conservative Prime Minister, and in a wise-sounding speech said: "The Prime Minister is much in the position of someone standing on one side of the canyon shouting to people on the other side of the canyon that if they do not do as he wishes he will thrown himself into the abyss. That is not a credible negotiating strategy.”

In turn, Jacob Rees-Mogg turned on Sir Oliver, saying there was “stunning arrogance” in his opinion. Mr Rees-Mogg is a wicketkeeper-turned-poacher if there ever was one, as he led the Tory backbenchers in disloyally inflicting the most embarrassing of defeats on the previous Tory Prime Minister but is now prepared to inflict end the career of any Conservative who dared to vote against him. At the Despatch Box, he was smashing all the bowling out of the ground with a withering put-down of the preening Speaker John Bercow.

"It would be wrong to question your impartiality," he said, questioning the legality of Mr Bercow even allowing yesterday’s play to take place. "But like with the umpires at Edgbaston [in the last Test] who saw eight of their decisions overturned, accepting impartiality is not the same as accepting their infallibility.

At the end of yesterday’s play, enough Tory rebels were prepared to go into the opposition’s changing room and inflict defeat on Mr Johnson. Just as cricket is a game of historic statistics, so is politics: the last Prime Minister to be defeated on his first vote in the Commons was Pitt the Younger in 1793. This was historic: the 20-plus Tory rebels including former Cabinet members, former Chancellors of the Exchequer, MPs with 40-plus years service, even Winston Churchill’s grandson all ruthlessly kicked out of the party.

The vote means MPs will take control of the Parliamentary agenda in today’s second day’s play. As they had the numbers last night, it seems that they will have the numbers today to get their main Bill through the Commons effectively blocking no-deal and extending the agony of Brexit.

But what tactics will be employed in today’s play? Even though Labour has spent the last two years calling for an immediate election, they will not vote for one unless Mr Johnson rules out a no-deal exit.

Labour suddenly sees Mr Johnson’s move towards a poll as a Tory trap which could enable Britain to leave without a deal. They don’t even trust Mr Johnson to play the election date with a straight bat, fearing he could move the day of the poll when Parliament is prorogued.

Labour’s opposition to an election is a colossal U-turn, prompted partly by their fear that they might find it hard to retain their traditional heartland seats, such as those in the North-East where the leave vote is strongest.

But it does paint Mr Johnson into a difficult corner; it would leave him stumped, potentially trapped in No 10, powerless to leave without a deal and yet unable to strike a deal.

His short premiership has been noted for its irregular cunning – he has shown himself prepared to tamper with the ball. So will he now arrange for the Bill to be talked out in the Lords? Will he persuade the Queen not to give it her Royal Assent? Could he call a vote of no-confidence in his own Government and vote against himself just to give himself a way out?

These are drastic measures, but we now live in drastic times. Today in Westminster promises to be even more unpredictable than today at Old Trafford – but cricket is only a game whereas politics has such far reaching consequences that how we get out of this mess will shape our country for perhaps decades to come.