England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 3rd day September 10, 2005

Flintoff says Aussies hold slight advantage

Cricinfo staff



Matthew Hayden's century was his first for over 12 months © Getty Images

On another rain-interrupted day at The Oval, in which only 45.4 overs were possible, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden both struck centuries, and their first-wicket partnership of 185 was the best for any wicket for either side this series.

Hayden's century, his first since scoring back-to-back hundreds against Sri Lanka in July 2004, ended a run of 30 innings in which he'd failed to get past 70. Speaking to reporters at the end of play, Hayden said:

"We have three sessions to bat tomorrow and we need to take the game deep into the fifth day. It's been a frustrating summer, especially as I've done the hard work getting into the 30s but I know I've got to play patiently and straight."

Andrew Flintoff, who dismissed Ricky Ponting with a brutal lifting delivery, became only the second player after Ian Botham in 1981 to take 20 wickets and score 300 runs for England in an Ashes series. After rain and bad light had forced the players off, yet again, Flintoff spoke of the need for resilience by the home team.

"When we weren't taking wickets today (Saturday) we kept the runs down and that's kept us in the match," Flintoff said. My gut feeling is that the Aussies have their noses in front. We know that tomorrow, every ounce of energy we have has to be left out on that pitch."

The weather forecast for the remaining two days promises a greater chance of play, although there could still be interruptions to Sunday's action.