England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 5th day August 5, 2013

England retain Ashes on rainy day


Australia 527 for 7 dec (Clarke 187, Smith 89, Rogers 84, Swann 5-159) and 172 for 7 dec (Warner 41) England 368 (Pietersen 113, Cook 62, Bell 60, Siddle 4-63) and 37 for 3
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

England will keep the Ashes for the next five months at least after Manchester's weather proved a far more impassable barrier to Australia's bowlers than the hosts' top order batting on a grey final day at Old Trafford. The retention of the urn arrived formally via the underwhelming circumstances of an announcement that play had been abandoned at 4.39pm local time, due to a solid belt of rain that could delay its arrival no further than three balls into the afternoon session.

By that time England had lurched to 37 for 3, Ian Bell stung on the thumb by a prancing delivery from Peter Siddle that rather summed up the danger posed by a committed and skilful Australian attack, who have grown increasingly confident in their ability to snip the top off their opponents' batting. Confounded by the rain in Manchester, they will look back ruefully on the failure of Australia's batsmen to provide them with anything to bowl to at Trent Bridge and Lord's, where England established their decisive advantage.

This is not to say that Old Trafford will be a source of entirely happy memories for Alastair Cook's men nor completely forlorn ones for Michael Clarke's. Australia have broken a streak of six consecutive Test match defeats, and in the final two Investec Tests have the chance to press for parity in this series and a platform from which to regain superiority at home in the southern summer. England by comparison have appeared to lose steam, their bowlers decreasing in threat while the batsmen grow increasingly dependent on the middle and lower orders to bail them out.

A Test match at Durham in four days' time will provide plenty of questions for both sides, not least whether the admirable Ryan Harris will be able to back up without the benefit of the break he had between Lord's and Old Trafford. Harris and Siddle were the outstanding performers in the 20.3 overs of play that were possible, finding life in the air and off the pitch to dispose of Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen before the showers set in.

It might have been even worse for England, had Clarke held onto the sort of slips chance he would usually claim when Joe Root snicked Siddle. Pietersen looked distraught to be given out, though a noise at precisely the moment the ball passed the bat backed up Tony Hill's call and that of the third umpire Kumar Dharmasena.

Rain overnight and this morning left many pessimistic about the chances of any resumption at all, with England needing only a draw. However the skies cleared enough for a concerted cleaning and drying effort from the ground staff, starting at around 10am, and following an inspection at 10.45 Hill and Marais Erasmus informed the captains Clarke and Cook of their plans to resume.

Clarke immediately declared, and threw the ball to Harris when play began at 11.30. As he has done repeatedly when called on, Harris responded with a spell of heart and skill, picking up the two early wickets that his captain required. Cook was drawn across his crease by balls angled towards the slips and then pinned lbw by an inswinger. He referred even though the ball was curling in to hit middle stump, the loss of a review adding to the gravity of the blow.

Trott has looked out of sorts in this match, and Harris worked him over in similar fashion, moving outswingers away then arrowing the odd ball back in. Harris' first attempt at the plan resulted in an awfully close lbw shout declined by Hill. Australia's referral was lost as the ball was hitting less than half of leg stump, but in Harris' next over Trott again fell across his crease, this time glancing straight into Brad Haddin's gloves.

Pietersen announced his arrival with a pull shot that signalled Harris' withdrawal. In Siddle's first over replacing him, Root was squared up by a ball angled in and seaming away, but Clarke surprised everyone in attendance by dropping the chance. Australian heads were not to be bowed for long however, as Siddle appeared to extract a fine edge from Pietersen as he prodded forward.

Hill's finger was raised, an upset Pietersen referred, and Dharmasena upheld the on-field call after a sound could be heard at the moment ball passed bat. Pietersen walked off muttering, and minutes later Australia followed him with a spring in their step. They returned with hope as the afternoon began, but within three balls were shuffling back to the pavilion, where a few hours later England had cause for celebration, acknowledging the commitment of a small, soggy crowd from the Old Trafford balcony.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harmon on August 9, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    @JG2704: Ind fans and Eng fans have seen much better days, I for one used to think that Eng fans are the most unbiased, sporting & learned fans in the world. I really did. I still remember the wonderful dignity Mr Boycott showed in WC99 after Thorpe had been wrongly given lbw to Srinath and Eng had lost. I have always enjoyed Bumble's wonderful honesty. I used to enjoy Hussain's appreciation for all.

    Somehow all that is gone now and I hope now you know upon whom much of the blame lies. The 'trash' and 'ghastilies' comments are two of the many such that should take the blame.

  • John on August 8, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    @5Wombats - Good for you. A friend is back from Aus for a couple of weeks. He said there are theories that Aus are making too much effort on the BBL and the more effort they make with BBL , the more it has an adverse affect on the first class game.

    I would disagree on one thing. I'd say Siddle and Harris are also definitely world class - presuming you meant Clarke as the 1

  • Harmon on August 8, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    @5wombats: You are among the most verbose Eng fans here and to see you completely speechless and in a corner here is a huge delight for me. This is +5 for me. You are paying for starting on a wrong foot here. You are quiet hoping this page is locked soon. Your so called "well founded" reasoning was shredded by me here, anyone can see that. Half of your reasons didn't even fit the context. So as a face saver, you are talking about weather and climate. But you still couldn't help it and had to pass yet another supercilious comment about 'trash'. That is an entirely new level of condescension.

    It's not as if you don't want to reply, the truth is that YOU CAN'T REPLY. You just can't. Everyone on this page sees the truth dear wombats, even JG2704 knows that.

    Talking about rain, we all saw how the rain helped Eng in the CT Final when it kept breaking the rhythm of Indian Batsmen but even with all that advantage and chasing a paltry ~130 total in an uninterrupted innings, Eng lost :-)

  • Nicholas on August 8, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    @Mitty2 & Shaggy076: McKay doesn't have the height!? He's over 6 feet tall! I'm 5 foot 6 and get decent bounce! He plays first class cricket and picks up wickets regularly; certain players have got into the Aus. team for much, much less.

    By calling someone a short-format specialist (Hughes and Warner), I don't necessarily mean they've played a lot of short-format cricket; I mean their styles and approach to cricket are generally not suitable for tests in my opinion. A balanced team does need 1 or 2 players to up-the-ante (like England have KP), but Aus. are not a balanced team and need more Clarke's/Mike Hussey's/Ponting's etc. - not Sehwag's/Gayle's/Viv. Richards.

  • Martin on August 8, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @JG2704. Yeah bud! Life is sweet and far too short to waste on trash. I should know. Australians are curiously quiet about this series. I've never seen anything like this before whilst in Aus. Normally we are getting a pasting and I get my ears boxed. Aussies know their team is weak in relative terms; only one world class player as opposed to eleven just a few years ago. Even my old club mates are fairly sanguine! The other thing is Australia, like the rest of the world, is changing. I've read a couple of sports pages here that say kids aren't going for cricket in the way that they used to; the big money rewards for sporting kids are in footy and aerial ping-ping (Aussie Rules football). I can't tell because it's off season here so none of the community or club ovals are in use. Membership of my old club is down on what it was. BBL attracts people who don't normally do cricket. Difficult to assess where cricket in Australia is as the situation has changed a lot in the past 10 years.

  • John on August 7, 2013, 21:50 GMT

    @ 5wombats on (August 7, 2013, 10:49 GMT) Sounds like you're enjoying life to the full although I thought you'd be here for the Ashes. Personally , despite the escapes you mentioned I can't make a realistic case here. Harris and Siddle were immense, our top 3 were back in the pavilion and Root and Bell were both lucky to still be there. England were lucky , but you're right re how some folk go overboard , however most Aus fans have been very dignified about it to their credit - what are they like out there?

  • Harmon on August 7, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    @5wombats: Spare us the details of your travels, that's irrelevant (or maybe you must tell us cos you got not much else). Let us see what happened in the 8 test matches you referred us to. Even at a glance one can see that 4 of them are totally irrelevant to the moot point here. Ha Ha, you thought no one would check your list? Google+Cricinfo is an easy combo my dear. Tell us how is Lord's 2010 useful here? Eng were chasing 160 there, you call that a good enough basis? How is Brisbane 2010 or TB 2011 relevant here? Did Eng bat in the 4th innings there? How is Dunedin 2013 relevant here? Were Eng 40/3 there? Nope, they were 200/0 so the situation was very different.

    I'd say Oval/Lord's - 2012 are fitter counter-examples here. Batting last, Eng had a similar poor start and were a.o. for <300 in both.

    Ofc, best examples are the UAE matches. Chasing 324, Eng managed 250 and CHASING 145, Eng WERE ALL OUT FOR GUESS HOW MUCH --- 72!!!

    Worry not, I forgive you for your biases. Cheers !!!

  • dinesh on August 7, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    well played aussies! really disappointed to see match draw which aussies would have won 100% had there been no rain and they thoroughly deserved to win. Aussies shd try hard and win the last two, then it wont matter eng holds the ashes because its just because of rain....healine for the match shld be "Scared england saved by rain"..teams like eng, ind could never become the worlds best ever..they are way too defensive...the way eng were tryin to waste time they were clearly lookin scared of losing...clarke still way better captain than cook..dont have quality players but still positive and aggresive! well done clarke and well done australia

  • Michael Ponnudurai on August 7, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    @Swombats: One important scenario you are conveniently forgetting while stating your dreams, is that England was batting 4th and on 5th day. In fact comparing 3rd Test situation with Trent Bridge and Lords scenarios does equate to more nonsense than anything else mentioned here

  • Martin on August 7, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    @JG2704 The wombats are currently in North Queensland enjoying life to the full. Check these recent England "saves", some of them famous, and see if you still think my optimism was unfounded... Cardiff 2009. Centurion 2009. Cape Town 2010. Lords 2010. Brisbane 2010. Trent Bridge 2011. Dunedin 2013. Auckland 2013. None of this is imaginary; All of these are in the cricinfo database. Plenty of sides that England have played against in that time frame were saved by rain - e.g New Zealand at Wellington 2013, Sri Lanka at Lords in 2011 - but you don't read comments from anyone saying they were lucky. Such comments are reserved exclusively for England, for some reason. I guess it comes back to the very dry year of 2011 and the fact that not enough rain fell during that particular summer. Also in India a few months ago. It didn't rain enough there either, did it? Inconvenient stuff rain. It never turns up when needed. Very dry here in Queensland atm. Lovely!