August 7, 2013
After just 14 days’ cricket in the series England have retained the Ashes against Australia. They managed to salvage a draw in the third Investec test at Old Trafford after rain washed out all bar 20.3 overs of the last day. It wasn’t quite The Sprinkler at the MCG. And it certainly doesn’t merit an all nighter, an open top London bus parade and a Downing Street reception. Instead, celebrations were muted as the players signed autographs and posed for photos in front a few hundred hardy rain soaked Lancastrians.
On the fifth day and with further rain forecast, Australia declared on their overnight second innings score of 172-9, setting England a target of 332 in a maximum of 98 overs. By lunch England had slumped to 37-3 but, with only three balls bowled thereafter, the draw was secured.
After the game, Michael Clarke, who won the man-of-the match award for his 187 in the first innings, congratulated his opponents and conceded that England had so far played the better cricket in the series. This was gracious, for Clarke knows that Australia made all the running at Old Trafford. He will be particularly satisfied with the performances of Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, the two best bowlers on show, and those of Chris Rogers, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc, who all notched up impressive half centuries. England will be pleased that Kevin Pietersen has returned to form and fitness and will be grateful for the continued good form of Ian Bell and Graeme Swann.
The teams now head to Durham for the fourth test, which starts on 9 August. Australia, who can still draw the series, can take heart from their improved showing at Old Trafford while England will be looking to regain momentum and complete an emphatic series victory. No changes are anticipated, but, as with all back-to-back tests, the fitness of the fast bowlers on both sides will be monitored carefully in the intervening period.
Australia 527 for 7 dec (Clarke 187, Smith 89, Rogers 84, Swann 5-159) and 172 for 7 dec. England 368 (Pietersen 113, Cook 62, Bell 60, Siddle 4-63) and 37 for 3. Match drawn.
The Scoop 06/08/13