6.10 pm I fear that will be it for the evening. The rain has won at Edgbaston, the game has been abandoned and there goes England's chance of topping the rankings.
A pity it had to end this way. Thanks for all the mails, people, we'll be back on Saturday to bring you the fourth match from Chester-le-Street. Cheers
6 pm Still coming down; an inspection is on the cards, but for that they need a break in the rain.
"It rains in Victoria too but never that frustrating, going to bed now," says a disgusted Rooma.
5.30pm We now have a powercut, a huge one too, so apologies for the lack of updates...
5.15pm But now the covers return, sigh...raining once again...
5pm We have news...we're going to try to start at 6pm with a 28-overs-a-side match. Providing we have no more rain...the crowds boo in that the sun is out and the disks for the 30-yard circle have been placed but the ground still needs some drying up...
4.50pm But now a dark cloud has brewed up over the pavilion and the hover cover is being moved into position once again...
4.40pm Hello, what's this...the umpires are coming our earlier than planned and now the covers are off...but they're inspecting a very muddy-looking patch...
4.35pm George now reports that they're marking the pitch but that is surely only the groundstaff making sure that if they can get out to play they can do so immediately. And just to clarify if we do get a game in it's looking most likely a T20 starting around 7pm and it will take that long to get the covers off and for the ground under the covers to dry up. But even if that happens this is still an ODI and not a T20.
4.15pm Hello everyone, blasted weather again eh!? I braved it yesterday for a round of golf on the Surrey Downs. It was a good decision though because the rain was only light and infrequent and didn't get in the way of my three wood, which was working pretty well. I wasn't at my best elsewhere on the course however and a modest scorecard ensued. The golf course was in far better nick than the Edgbaston outfield it would seem, where mud is likely to prevent any play, predicts George Dobell. They'll inspect again at 5pm.
4.05pm: The umpires have taken a stroll out to the middle ... and right on cue, the rain has turned the key in the ignition again. On come the covers, umbrellas blooming all around the ground. Mud on the run-ups is still a problem, with chances for the surface to dry out enough for a T20 game dwindling again ...
Anyway, I've played keep-uppy for long enough now. Please lend Alex Winter your eyes for the next wee while.
4pm: "If the game is cut down to 20-25 overs a side," says Gert, "I reckon that improves the chances of Woakes getting a game ahead of Anderson: England's top-order game plan would have to change slightly in a shorter game, which might backfire, making a rope-clearer at 7 or 8 more necessary (no offence, Bres). Thoughts?" I'd like to see Woakes either way, to be honest, just to have a look at him. Unless Anderson is tip-top 100%, you can be sure England won't risk him, even for a thrash.
3.55pm: Here's Nick, revelling: "Darren @ 3.20pm - don't care. PDTM @ 3.25pm - is Brad Hodge still alive. Aussies having a crap spinner and bringing back OAPs, how times have changed!"
But Greg has a green-and-gold riposte ... "Chris - who are those spinners? I've heard of two of them. I can also list all our domestic spinners. Doesn't mean they are good yet. For those saying Aussies in Tests are terrible, you guys will struggle to beat our Test side."
3.45pm: There are - rub your eyes - blue skies and white clouds over Birmingham. All right, and one or two grey ones still. But, the covers are off, there's a window of sunlight on the pitch and the wicket is getting a workout with the heavy roller. The outfield might take some time to dry but we're looking good for some cricket at some point this afternoon.
3.40pm: Still a hokey-cokey situation (on-off, on-off) with the covers at Edgbaston, as I understand, though the Met Office are predicting a drier evening, so we might still get a T20 match. Sky, meanwhile, are showing England v Australia in the 2004 Champions Trophy - Michael Vaughan has just fallen for 86, leaving England needing 33 off 44 balls.
"A shortened match may be Australia's best chance for a win here," says Adam, in timely fashion. "Hopefully limit the time that Bailey and Forrest spend in the middle and give the bowlers a decent amount of runs to work with."
3.30pm: "Steven Smith is the most promising Australian spinner since Shane Warne emerged - but he is more than that," says Payal Chawla, who is obviously a 'go big or go home' adherent. "He carries the extra advantage of being an outstanding batsman who could soon slot in to the top six for his country, whether he bowls or not. By the age of 21 he was in Australia's Test, one-day and Twenty20 teams, picked on promise and quickly showing the composure of a seasoned professional. There were words of caution about his early elevation, but there was no hiding the excitement about a player who gives the ball air, hits it hard, catches it at will and seems unbothered by pressure. Can't we see shades of SPD SMITH? huh???" Well, Devereux is a great middle name ... but I think Jarrod Kimber has the the update you're looking for, Payal.
3.25pm: Back to the game at hand (or not, thanks to the vexed weather). Here's PDTM: "A change in the lineup needs to be in the opening position. Can I be the first Victorian to chime in with Brad Hodge's name? Other than that, I would put the onus on Clarke to take up the position, bring a bit more calmness to the position. Ding Dong (Ian Bell) has shown that a player of that ilk can make it work."
3.20pm: Here's Darren, with what is either an impassioned polemic or dyspeptic ramble, depending on your affiliation, I guess. Anyway, enjoy ...
"England people and their commentators are an exceedingly cheeky bunch considering their English (koff embarrassing koff again) team is made up of 5 or more at last count South Africans, Zimbabweans, Irishmen (heaven, can one believe that) and others...
"England doesn't have a cricket team yet they claim greedily to the recent successes ... What fakeness. What folly, English folly. An English shirt is cheap to obtain these days, yes? Even the Test ranking comes off having played almost 12 Tests more than SA ranked 2nd allowing them to amass points.
"Good grief. An Ashes win or two and the country hands out MBEs? Mediocrity is the English currency they trade and prize highly it seems."
Darren obviously considers George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling to be both Indian, has never heard of Imran Tahir, and was taking a happy nap through the four consecutive home series that South Africa failed to win, before beating Sri Lanka 2-1 in January.
3.15pm: The covers are fully back on and there's a smattering of rain back in the air. Remember, the cut-off time is 7.07pm, by which time the teams need to be out there and playing.
3.05pm: The umpires have apparently been out to get their shoes wet. Next inspection will be at 4pm.
"I'm surprised at all this criticism towards Doherty," chips in Jason. "He hasn't done that badly, these were condtions whereby Narine struggled, so give him a break. His overall career economy is decent nad while I'd still prefer to see Lyon or Steve O'Keefe in the team Doherty hasn't done terribly." Interesting to hear an Australian defending a player who hasn't done terribly. Are you sure you're not English, Jason?
To balance things up, here's Chris, gleefully buying up bragging rights: "I remember when it used to be us poms who were desperately searching for a spinner. Then we found Swann, Monty, Briggs, Borthwick, Beer, Yardy, Patel, Batty, Rayner, Kerrigan..."
3pm: "Why are we getting after the bowlers when batsmen havent just done enuff in the last two games," wonders an indignant Shivam Bhatia. "Bring back Punter is what I say... Australia's biggest trouble is after Warner and Watson there is a sudden dip in strike power...... Get Ricky back!!"
Hugh's back: "May I continue complaining? What did Nathan Hauritz do wrong? Oh yes, that's right, he's not Shane Warne." That and no one liked him, if I remember correctly*.
*I probably don't
2.55pm: Enough with the serious discussion - bring on the childish insults! "Peter at 2pm is kidding himself," chirrups Chris. "This Australian team couldn't whitewash a wall when presented with a wall, a tin of whitewash and a brush, never mind England in a Test series."
James is channelling Ann Robinson: "Since Shane Watson was kind enough to share his untested theories about England's 'weak link', I thought I would offer my way to find an Australian 'weak link'. Pick a number between 1 and 11. Any number ..."
2.50pm: One cover is on, one is off. The 22 yards of turf are still being protected. There is a man dressed as Where's Wally sipping a pint from a plastic glass in an empty stand - you'd have no trouble finding him today.
2.45pm: "I think this tour has proven that Doherty is a spud, lets be honest, all he bowls is gentle mediums," observes Nick Hendo. "I'd like to see Australia give Nathan Lyon a chance to be the ace spinner in the team, thoughts ??" Well, Dan Brettig's theory, which I may as well rip off here, is that Lyon should be allowed to develop his game in Test cricket for a couple of years, to prevent him becoming a defensive bowler. Not that Xavier Doherty appears much good as a defensive bowler either.
2.35pm: We're being tempted again, the pitch is showing a little ankle (read: the square covers are coming off). If it gets any racier than that, I'll let you know.
Plenty of support for Lee coming in, meanwhile ... "There's no logical way Australia could drop Lee while Mitch is still in the squad," says Adam. "Lee does a lot more than bowl... he's a veteran and probably does a lot we don't see."
DaWolf has turned to the stats: "Brett Lee in the last year - batting average of 29, bowling average of 27; 31 wickets from 19 matches at an economy rate of 5.22. Who isn't currently in the team that will do better?"
And Kapil also thinks Lee can help the next generation (something Lee himself referred to when he took tea with Alison Mitchell): "Australia can definitely do away with Johnson, bring in guys like Ben Cutting and Alistar McDermott. At the same time they shouldn't drop Brett Lee but keep him in the squad to pass on the experience and rotate himself and Hilfenhaus based on wicket/conditions."
2.30pm: "Bloody Pommie weather. Can we reschedule the rained-out match, or not?" Sadly, Linda, we can't. But at least if it's a washout your boys won't be deposed at the top by England, eh?
And here's Jon on the same subject: "@Murali I looked it up earlier today: 4-0 puts England into 3rd on the ODI table, leaping just over India"
John Muir delivers today's Reality Check lecture: "Sorry to rain on Peter's parade, but the contradictory results in Tests/ODIs only happen when the ODIs are played AFTER the Tests. The last stand-alone series was in 2010, when England won 3-2- and we all know what happened in the 2010/11 Test series, don't we, Peter?"
2.25pm: Sounds like the rain has got worse again. Maybe the gods have decided Birmingham will be the first to go in the deluge - and who could blame them?
Here's Mark: "Am I the only one who's hoping to see Pattinson and Hilfenhaus bowl today, I think that would really help. No offence to MJ but those two have better track records recently." True. But MJ was never as good after Bad, was he?
"Have the England selectors completely forgotten about Steve Davies?" wonders Hugh, who's never satisfied. "Unlike Kieswetter, he can keep wicket and, unlike Kieswetter, he can bat."
2.15pm: Murali Mohan has a good question about the rankings, which I would try and answer but for the fact that the ICC website appears to be banjaxed: "Is it true that if this match is washed off, England will not become No.1 if they win 4-0?" I reckon you're right, Murali. But we're going to have to exist in a delicious state of uncertainty for a while yet.
"Why do Australia persist with Brett Lee," wonders Sam, on the subject of the tourists' travails. "The man was good in his day, but his day was eight years ago. The indescribable number of bad balls he has bowled, particularly to Eoin Morgan, tells the story, disgraceful."
Aussie Phil, meanwhile, thinks Brett is still worth a place but Xavier isn't: "Both Warner and Watson have the ability to be match winners, but playing them together at the top of the order doesn't make best use of them. Two similar players like this should be played apart - use Wade to open the batting with Warner. Oh yes, and drop Doherty for a four pronged attack - Pattinson, Hilfy, Lee and McKay. Amen."
2.05pm: It's raining again. Don't worry, we've got another five hours and two minutes until the cut-off point. The next inspection by the umpires has been scheduled for 3pm. At least the begonias will be happy ...
2pm: Shouldn't think we'll be underway for a while yet, despite the efforts of the groundstaff. The hover cover remains in place. Anyway, does anyone (anyone?!) have a plan for Australia to get back in the series? The bowlers, Australia's strongest unit, haven't yet managed to get down to England's "weak link" (copyright: Shane Watson) at No. 7, Tim Bresnan; while several of the batsmen have managed individual scores but struggled with the slow, seaming wickets.
It's not all bad, though, observes Peter: "Given how ODI results for Eng v Aus seem to historically be the opposite of the Test results, part of me can't help but hope for an England whitewash."
1.55pm: Still clouds in the sky above Birmingham but it does look as if they've removed the covers on the square again. Aleem Dar and Rob Bailey wandering out for a trundle around the pitch now.
1.45pm: Amjad is, of course, bang on the money. The covers are coming back on.
Here's Hugh: "England seriously need to start giving Chris Woakes some game time. He's shown he has bottle in his two match-winning performances in Australia, and his domestic form is fantastic. He should be being groomed for all 3 formats - much more use than Stokes or Bairstow." Well, England lost when he took 6-45 but, still, I agree he looks a special talent. But then I'd probably say that about Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stoke too. Where did all these talented young bucks spring from, eh?
1.35pm: George Dobell, our man at Edgbaston, says the groundstaff "have done an AMAZING job" after the rain they've had in the area. Hopefully we'll get a substantial match, if not the full 50 overs.
"Hi Alan, hope I am the first one to comment," begins Amjad, who'll be glad to know he is the first one to comment. "Instead of saying 'welcome to live coverage of the third ODI', why don't you just say 'welcome to live coverage of rain ...' ?" Oh, Amjad, you are a facetious one!
1.25pm: Afternoon everyone and welcome to live coverage of the third ODI between England and Australia at Edgbaston. I'm Alan Gardner and I'll be joined in the comms seat by Alex Winter today. After the wettest June on record, we're already in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid territory for July (and not just because Australia are 2-0 down and on the run). Rainfall in Birmingham means we will have a delayed start - the umpires are due to make an inspection at 2pm.
While we wait for the skies to clear (hopefully not too long, according to the forecast), why not swot up on England's hopes of a whitewash vs. the chances of an Australia revival with Andrew McGlashan's preview? We've also got the low-down on Chris Woakes, courtesy of George Dobell; and Dan Brettig's preview of the spin war between Swanny and Dohey.