England v Australia, 3rd npower Test, Edgbaston, 3rd day

Flower remains optimistic about win

Peter English at Edgbaston

August 1, 2009

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The Edgbaston outfield struggled to cope with the rain, England v Australia, 3rd Test, 3rd day, Edgbaston, August 1, 2009
Persistent rain forced play to be called off in the afternoon on the third day © PA Photos
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The coach Andy Flower believes England still have a chance of taking a 2-0 Ashes lead despite the third day being washed out at Edgbaston. Play was abandoned following an inspection at 2.30pm with England stuck on 116 for 2 in the third Test, still 147 behind Australia's first-innings total.

Puddles continued to sit on the outfield more than two hours after the cancellation and Flower expected another curtailed day on Sunday. "I think Steve Rouse [the groundsman] has said we might get 70 overs in and that would be a godsend if we do," he said. "There's nothing we can do about this so I would hope it doesn't damage [our momentum] at all."

However, Flower remained confident of his side's ability to force a win that would ensure their worst-case scenario is a drawn series. "Absolutely, you can see how quickly things can happen in a game, so a result is definitely possible," he said. "Whether or not that happens, we'll have to see how well both sides play. But if we can get 70 overs in [on Sunday], we still have to bat well to get a lead. It's up to us to bat well and see how far ahead we can get." The forecast is for sunny intervals for day four and light rain on Monday.

Shane Watson, Australia's stand-in opener, also held out hope for a quick turnaround. "There is a possibility but I am not exactly sure how things are going to pan out," he said. "We are going to have to bowl extremely well once we get out there to give ourselves a chance. We are 1-0 down and we can't afford to have too many draws otherwise the series is lost."

The pitch has been under cover since Friday afternoon, when bad light ended the second day, and Flower expected the surface to be livelier whenever England resume. Another concern for the hosts is what the heavy outfield, which was also drenched in the lead-up to the game, does to Andrew Flintoff's legs. Flintoff will carry a nagging knee problem into retirement at the end of the series and remains a match-to-match proposition.

"It will be quite a lot of wear and tear on him actually, on that heavy outfield if we do bowl on it for any period of time, but he'll be doing everything he can to win this game for England," Flower said. Flintoff had no lingering problems from his 15 overs in the first innings and Flower hoped he would also be able to appear in Friday's fourth Test in Leeds.

"I think he can," he said. "Whether he does or not I don't know, we don't know what's going to happen over the next two days, but he's a strong bloke so it's possible."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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