England retained the Ashes after rain meant the third Test against Australia at Old Trafford ended in a draw yesterday.
Only 20.3 overs were possible on the fifth and final day, but that was still long enough for England to collapse to 37 for three, having been set 332 to win after Australia declared on their overnight 172 for seven.
But England, 2-0 up in the five-match series after wins by 14 runs and 347 runs at Trent Bridge and Lord’s respectively, only had to draw this match to be sure of retaining the Ashes.
And they had the result they required when the match was abandoned as a draw.
“It’s a slightly strange feeling but for the lads to retain the Ashes after 14 days is great,” said England captain Alastair Cook. “We were behind and got a bit of luck with the weather but we fought well.
“It was a good toss to win but fair play Australia, they put us under a lot of pressure. We responded well with the bat. The weather hasn’t been ideal. This hasn’t got the atmosphere of Melbourne or The Oval but it’s a great feeling in the dressing room.
Australia captain Michael Clarke, who was also named the man of the match, lauded the efforts of their fierce rivals.
“I certainly don’t want to take anything away from England, they deserve to be 2-0 up in this series but in the UK there’s always a chance of some rain,” he said. “It’s important we concentrate on the next two Tests and leave two-all.
“We’ve seen some great signs from the guys here. It’s nice to make runs but it’s irrelevant, I’d rather get a duck and win the Test. You can feel great and get no runs. I had a bit of luck along the way but it’s important I make runs in the next two Tests. It’s never really mattered to me where I bat. I’ll bat wherever I’m needed for the team.”
Earlier, Ryan Harris struck twice in quick succession to remove Cook and Jonathan Trott before Peter Siddle claimed the prize wicket of Kevin Pietersen.
However, the bad weather for which Manchester venue Old Trafford is infamous, but which had stayed away until Sunday evening, took charge.
At the close, England were 295 runs shy of the victory target, with Joe Root, dropped on four, 13 not out and Ian Bell four not out.
Now the best Australia can hope for is to share the series 2-2. In the event of a drawn campaign, the team that last won the Ashes retains them and in this series that means England following their 3-1 win in Australia in 2010/11.
The series, which could yet see the first drawn Test campaign between England and Australia since 1972, continues Friday with the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street, the first Ashes match to be staged at the headquarters of north-east county Durham.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2013.
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