Ashes 2013: England retain the urn after rain plays spoilsport in Australia’s victory aspirations

Australia’s hopes of making a comeback in the Ashes were ruined as rain allowed only 20.3 overs on Day Five at Old Trafford © Getty Images

By Sarang Bhalerao

Aug 5, 2013

Rain played spoilsport in Australia’s victory aspirations against England in the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford. England were 37 for three as Australia could bowl only 20.3 overs before rain came to the rescue of the hosts who had a tough task ahead of them to save the Test had the game lasted the full distance. England though have retained the Ashes at Old Trafford.

On the final day Ryan Harris jolted the hosts by picking up Alastair Cook (0) and Jonathan Trott (11). Cook missed Harris’s incoming delivery while Trott was caught down the leg-side attempting to flick the ball which went too fine. Kevin Pietersen was dismissed by Peter Siddle in his first over albeit in a controversial fashion. The English No 4 prodded at a Siddle delivery which he was convinced he had not edged. He challenged umpire Tony Hill’s call. The Hot-spot failed to show any snick but on the evidence of the noise third-umpire Kumar Dharmasena upheld Hill’s call and England were in tatters.

Australia dominated the Test match right from the start and the hosts were doing the catching up for all the five days. Australia had the right ingredients to win the match. After winning the toss for the first time in the series, Australian captain Michael Clarke had no hesitation in batting first. Chris Rogers scored an attacking 84 on the first day morning. Skipper Clarke came to the party with a monumental 187. Steven Smith scored an impressive 89. The 214-run partnership paved way for a huge big innings score. Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc’s half-centuries ensured that Australia reached the total in excess of 500. They ended up scoring 527.

Australia picked up wickets at regular intervals. Siddle was the pick of the bowler with four wickets while Mitchell Starc who was making his comeback picked up three wickets. The star for England was Kevin Pietersen who scored his 23rd Test century courtesy of his responsible 113. He added 115 for the fourth wicket with Ian Bell on Day Three which was the striking feature of English batting. Bell missed his fourth consecutive Ashes Test hundred when he was out bowled to Harris for 60.

Australia’s best chance for a win was to enforce follow-on over England. That did not happen as Matt Prior and Stuart Broad added 58 for the eighth wicket and averted the follow-on. Australia secured a lead of 159 runs over England.

The visitors pressed for quick runs on Day Four in order to give themselves a decent chance of bowling England out in the fourth innings. Australia opened the batting with David Warner who replaced an out-of-sorts Shane Watson. Warner batted with confidence and added a quickfire 41. Chris Rogers, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson and Clarke all played vital cameos. Bad light stopped play as on-field umpires deemed conditions dangerous for the players. This call irked Clarke who had an argument with the umpires. England were slyly joyous since they were intent on slowing down the game. An over-rate of just 12.2 substantiates that fact.

Australia had England on the run for five days. Sadly rain had the last laugh and came to the rescue of the home side. The action now shifts to Chester-le-Street on August 9, with no clear favourites.
Brief scores:

Australia 527 for 7 decl. (Chris Rogers 84, Michael Clarke 187, Steven Smith 89; Graeme Swann 5 for 159) and 172 for 7 decl. (David Warner 41; Tim Bresnan 2 for 25) drew with England 368 (Alastair Cook 62, Kevin Pietersen 113, Ian Bell 60; Peter Siddle 4 for 63) and 37 for 3 (Joe Root 13*; Ryan Harris 2 for 13 ).

Man of the Match: Michael Clarke

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(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)