Opinion was divided.
For the England players the innings of Ashton Agar was horrible. For everyone else, even ardent home supporters, provided they possessed a touch of humanity, it was a joyous, refreshing fairytale, in which a gifted, carefree cricketer let his instincts run riot gloriously.
In the process Agar just may have changed the course of an Ashes series.
It all happened so swiftly. One moment Australia had lost five wickets for nine runs, which was bound to induce a feeling of invincibility among the fielding side. The next Agar was stroking the ball to all corners of Trent Bridge with Phillip Hughes reduced to the role of startled junior partner.
The cricket was breathtaking, as if scripted by Tom Tully (for it was he who was responsible for a good majority of the Roy of the Rovers comic strips). It provided a wondrous spectacle unless you happened to be sitting on the England balcony. On that balcony, the bowling coach David Saker, a sympathetic man but also a straight talker, might have allowed for a few extenuating circumstances. England were on such a roll that they might have been seduced by the thought that the last wicket was bound to fall at any moment.
But of more relevance to England's coaching staff is the fact that their bowling attack went from irresistible to irredeemable in the space of half-an-hour. They were slow to recognise that Agar was an imposter and they could not induce another error from him until he fell for 98.
Even before Thursday's heroics the word was that this talented young cricketer bats as well as he bowls. England discovered that the hard way.
Expertly led as ever by Jimmy Anderson, they bowled beautifully for the first hour. The principle was simple, obvious and familiar, a probing length just outside off-stump. But so often, against all logic, the method that has worked so well for an entire innings (almost) is deserted when the last pair come together.
The pursuit of bouncers, yorkers, any sort of magic ball to take the final wicket, is so tempting. The problem was that Agar is not – and never will be again – a No11. Thus he lapped up all those run-scoring opportunities. This was not so different to playing for his university side in first-grade cricket in Perth.
Moreover that partnership highlighted the disparities within the England attack. Anderson and Graeme Swann, though both suffered from Agar's strokeplay, are in control of the ball. Steven Finn and Stuart Broad do not always give that impression at the moment.
Finn's two wickets on Wednesday night were critical but there remains a confusion. Does he aim for pace or swing? Has the notion of a stock ball deserted him (he did not seem to aim for any of those against Agar)? As in the Ashes series of 2010-11 when Finn was dropped after three Tests despite taking 14 wickets, he is leaking runs fast, which is not part of the grand plan.
Broad was hamperedon Thursday by his bruised upper arm and the fact that he was introduced when Agar and Hughes were flowing. So looking ahead there is a form issue with Finn, a fitness one with Broad and the increasing possibility that England will not embark on the next Test match with the same attack. Certainly selection will not be as easy for England next time around.
Meanwhile there could be some preening among the Aussie selectors, except that they are really not the preening types. So far the choice of Hughes (not an automatic selection) looks good; so does that of Steve Smith (not in the original party) after his half-century. And then there is Agar (not in the original party nor even in the match programme), who produced an innings as enchanting as any in Ashes history. For those of us lucky enough to be at Trent Bridge on Thursday we will remember that – rather than England's inability to "hit the right areas"- for years to come.
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