Gilchrist makes a declaration of intent
The Yorkshire weather scuppered Australia's hopes of having a day off tomorrow as rain restricted play on the fourth day to just 25 overs but their declaration gave England a target for victory.
After making 176 for four in their second innings, Australian captain Adam Gilchrist declared when it was announced that weather permitting, another 20 overs would be played at 5.50pm following a dreary afternoon watching the clouds and covers come and go.
The decision gave England a win target of 315 to aim for, with the remainder of the fourth day and a full fifth day left but Mike Atherton and Marcus Trescothick batted for just 2.3 overs before umpires offered the batsmen the light.
By then they had reduced the deficit by four after Atherton had bravely hooked Glenn McGrath in the gloom to get off the mark.
Despite heavy overnight rain and misty conditions, there had earlier been a prompt start but 40 minutes later, the clouds gathered and hundreds of umbrellas popped up around the ground to signal the first interruption of the day.
But in that time, a substantial crowd were treated to a batting spectacular from Ricky Ponting who was belting the ball as if it were white.
He faced 31 balls and put on a remarkable 38 runs, including a hefty six into the West Stand off Hampshire left-armer Alan Mullally. His 50 came up in 52 balls and all Matthew Hayden could do, having resumed on 12 to Ponting's 30, was watch in awe from the other end.
With such heavy cloud cover and on a pitch that players said was beginning to misbehave, the advantage should have been with the bowlers but Australia were after quick runs and more than ready to take risks.
In ten overs, the score shot from 69 for one to 124 for one but Ponting's cavalier exhibition was disrupted by a 40-minute rain break then destroyed by Darren Gough who had him trapped leg before for 72, scoring at a run a ball.
His partnership with Hayden added 104 but Hayden's luck also ran out three overs later when he edged a ball from Mullally to the wicket-keeper after he had made 35.
The afternoon session saw more rain and less play with three hours and 20 minutes lost to the weather but Andrew Caddick used the time available to great effect, having dangerman Damien Martyn back in the pavilion for six before the heavens opened.
It was Caddick's first ball of the spell but the Australian batsman, not used to looseners, was deceived and trapped. In the distance, there were flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder and very soon, the storm had descended on Leeds, putting a stop to proceedings.
Bad light turned quickly into heavy rain and play was eventually called off 6.35pm.