|SCOREBOARD SAYS IT ALL. via BBC SPORTS
Manchester rain brought an early end to the final day`s play in Third Test match at Old Trafford, as continuous rain overnight and heavy downpours through the day brought the match to a conclusion and saw the match end up a draw.
Australia had the edge in the contest before play was halted as they were looking likely to win the test match, having got England batsmen out fairly cheaply in their second innings as they tried to chased down 332 to take a 3-0 series lead.
It all started with Michael Clarke winning the toss for Australia on yet another warm and baking day in this Ashes series. Clarke had decided on batting first on a hard batting wicket which looked like it would do something for the bowlers too on a traditional test pitch at Old Trafford.
Australia made a couple of changes to their squad in this important test, Mitchell Starc returned to the line up alongside Spinner Nathan Lyon who replaced Ashton Agar in the team.
Also included in this test match was the surprise inclusion of controversial batsman David Warner. This was the first time he had face he faced England and come up against Joe Root since his infamous nightclub brawl, which resulted in him throwing a punch at the Young England player back in June during the Champions Trophy tournament in England.
Australia wanted to show that they were “foes not foils” in this Ashes series and they started off very well as Chris Rogers was hitting the England bowlers all over the Old Trafford pitch, with Shane Watson adding runs slowly as he tried to play his way into the innings.
Watson became the first to depart for the Aussies, after the opener edged to Alistair Cook in the slips from a teasing ball by Tim Bresnan and Watson headed back for (19).
It wasn`t too long before Australia found themselves two down in their Innings after yet more controversy with DRS in this series.
Usman Khawaja was given out on (1) for apparently edging behind off the bowling of Graeme Swann and England appealed to which the umpire agreed raising his finger for him being out.
Khawaja instantly asked for a review and with replays showing he missed it by a good distance and as there was nothing on hotspot to show he had made any contact with it, the 3rd umpire Kumar Dharmasena inexplicably didn`t overturn the decision, much to the amazement of Khawaja as the Australian batsman was not very happy at the 3rd umpire and was in shock and disgruntled over his decision, as well he might.
Michael Clarke came to the crease with the Aussies on 82-2, and with fans of the green and gold hoping that this wouldn`t become another all too familiar scenario of the Tourists losing wickets in clumps and giving England the advantage, for them they would be far happier this time.
|pics via ECB.com
Chris Rogers and the Australian Captain put on 47 runs between them as both players made a solid Partnership to build upon for the innings, with Clarke determined to try and get into form and lead by example in this test as he wanted his men to put pressure on the England Bowlers this time round.
Rogers then fell on (84) to Swann lbw as a full delivery by the England spinner saw the ball straighten up in line and hit his pads dead in line with the wickets. Rogers walked down the pitch to ask his Captain if he should review the decision, but after a brief talk he walked back to the pavilion.
Michael Clarke was then joined by Steve Smith at the crease, as the two batsmen put on a batting master class which saw the England bowlers looking lost and running out of ideas on how to stop the pair scoring runs. The pair racked up a partnership of 214 as they had the bowlers out in the middle toiling in the heat as they played magnificent strokes to all corners of the ground.
Both Australians passed their Half-Centuries with ease and looked on course to convert their 50`s to 100`s, much was the way they carried themselves at the crease with their temperament.
Sadly for Steve Smith he played a shot that looped right up in the air and was taken by Johnny Bairstow in the field, as Swann bowling had finally removed one of the batsmen and saw Smith head off for (89) as England broke the partnership up, with Australia on 343-4 and finally finding some form with the bat in this series.
England`s pantomime Villain then took to the pitch, as the announcement of David Warner coming into bat was met with loud Boo`s ringing from all round the ground(apart from those in Yellow) as it was safe it say he wasn`t Mr. Popular with the England fans.
Warner played a little cameo innings as he had gone the way of most of his team mates had, with him given out for lbw. Warner shook his head to claim he hadn`t hit it and then after a little talk with Clarke, saw the Controversial Warner ask for a review on the dismissal.
Replays shown he got quite a bit of the ball and as the replay`s had shown that the locals weren`t very impressed with Warner at all, as Cheers from the crowd was met with very loud lingering boo`s as the decision came up on the big screen and confirmed he was out, with the jeering England fans booing him off the pitch much like how he entered the fray.
Another handy partnership for the “Baggy Green`s” saw Brad Haddin join Clarke and together they pushed the Tourists score along nicely as the only bowler to find any joy for England, was Graeme Swann.
Michael Clarke played a captain`s Innings as he was eventually bowled by Stuart Broad for a magnificent (187) and shown he had made some form in this test match, much like his side had done too.
Peter Siddle came to the crease and Swann bowled the Australian pace man out with Siddle trying to attempt a big slog , which saw the spin deceived him and sent the bails flying up, as he went for (1).
Mitchell Starc came in and scored a good innings of 66 Not out while Brad Haddin finished on 65, with Michael Clarke declaring his teams Innings on 527 for 7.
England`s response to the Australian Innings was one of a nervous one early on, With the openers playing a cautious game to start with indeed. Joe Root played a very slow methodical start to his innings and we saw an unusual sight of Cook taking an adventurous route to his Innings, as Cook was in his early 20`s before Root eventually got off the mark.
The careful Innings England was playing, was seemingly overly careful as Joe Root feathered a shot into the gloves of Brad Haddin from a great delivery by Peter Siddle which saw the Yorkshireman go for 8.
Tim Bresnan then came in as Night-watchman to bat the final couple of Overs out for the hosts as they wanted to come back the next day and have a good go.
We then had a bizarre incident when England lost their Second wicket, after Tim Bresnan went for (1) when Bresnan attempted a pull shot off Siddle bowling and as the Australians appealed , the umpires finger went up to signal he was out.
Bresnan looked lost for a minute and consulted with Cook over whether he should review it or not, in the end the England man decided to walk and as it turned out it was the wrong decision.
Replays shown that he didn`t hit the ball at all and that hot spot shown clearly the ball flicked his trousers and went behind, so England or Bresnan as it was made an error not reviewing the wicket for England and left them in a bit of bother with the score at 49-2.
Jonathon Trott was the next victim with Ryan Harris removing him, thanks to his Captain taking the catch as he edged to Clarke at slips as the Warwickshire man went for (5).
Alastair Cook carried on his Innings, as he went past his Half Century and looked to have helped England on the road back to recovery, as they were 71-3.
England then suffered a blow as Cook was out, as he got a little nick down leg side and Haddin took a flying catch one handed and in the process put England Deep in trouble now, with Cook returning to the changing room after scoring (62).
Kevin Pietersen was coming into form now as he was playing beautiful with this pitch being deemed tailor-made for the batsmen to score on on the batting strip at Old Trafford.
Pietersen went into one day mode as he made a couple of sixes in succession as he slogged two sixes off the bowling of Nathan Lyon and seen him bring up his 50 and 32nd Test Match Fifty of his career.
Shane Watson was bowling and one of his deliveries flicked Pietersen on the pads a long way down the batting track, Australia didn`t know whether to appeal to not. In the end they didn`t and it proved to be costly as the replay showed it was hitting Pietersen stumps and should have been out.
Clarke looked up to the Australian changing room and saw coach Darren Lehman walk to the balcony and give the finger to say he was out after he saw the replay. The look on Clarke face said it all, as he looked dejected from the news and the Tourists became frustrated over it with, Watson showing that publicly.
As a blocked delivery came to Watson in his temper picked it up and threw it past Pietersen and drew a reaction from the England fans as it showed the Aussies had been temporarily put off their game plan as sarcastic cheers also came from the England faithful in the stands.
|pic from yahoo sports
England then lost Ian Bell for (60) after Ryan Harris bowled the Warwickshire batsman, dislodging his stumps and resulting in England losing their 5th wicket as they were 225 for 5 and trailing by 302 runs, Bell had looked comfortable at the crease and assured too until that point.
England was thankful that Kevin Pietersen was still out in the middle as without him and his big hundred, England would be in complete disarray.
Johnny Bairstow was partnering Pietersen in the middle, yet the Yorkshireman never looked settled at all at the crease and his dismissal came as no surprise. Starc had been bowling well for the Aussies and his rewards was met with getting Bairstow out, as he just chipped it up in the air as he gave his wicket away cheaply for (22).
Then at 280, a Mitchell Starc ball trapped Pietersen in front of his stumps as he missed a straight one going on and as soon as the ball struck him, he knew he had to review the decision as he was the last of the recognised batsmen in the side and was the most valuable player too.
Replay`s shown the ball was hitting his middle stump and meant that England were 7 down and were 247 behind now, England needed to scored 328 still as they looked to avoid the follow-on being forced on them, as it was a certainty that Michael Clarke would enforce it on the hosts if they didn`t reach the target.
Stuart Broad and Matt Prior combined to make sure England passed the Follow on score and then they guided England on a bit past that total, before shortly after Broad fell on (32) as he feathered a Lyon delivery behind to Haddin who took it in the gloves and Broad walked with England on 338 for 8.
Graeme Swann survived a dropped catch, but that was brief let off as not long after that he edged one behind as he went for (11) and England were 9 down for 354 and 173 runs behind.
Peter Siddle then got rid of Matt Prior on (30) with a top edge by Prior as his shot looped up high in the air for David Warner to take the simplest of catches and bring an end to the England 1st Innings , as they were all out for 368 and Australia had a lead of 159 going into their 2nd Innings.
|BEER SNAKE by the England fans !! pic from yahoo
Australia played a fairly aggressive Second Innings, as they hoped to build a big total that could tease England into chasing down the total. Michael Clarke and Australia also had to be wary of the Weather too, as the reports for day 5th were looking very gloomy indeed as it was predicted bad weather would dominate Day 5, So they knew they had to knock the runs fairly briskly and put England into bat.
Australia in their 2nd Innings found themselves 99-3 after Rogers edged to a diving Matt Prior behind for (12), David Warner went for (41) after he tried to hook a Tim Bresnan bouncer and the ball was caught by a diving…JOE ROOT of all people!
Usman Khawaja was then bowled around his legs by Swann for (24) as England were taking finally taking wickets on this pitch, but it also had a bit to do with the way the Aussies were batting too.
Shane Watson went for (18) as he tried to take on Bresnan and managed to direct it down to third man where Kevin Pietersen was waiting and caught him out, as the score now moved to 103-4 with a lead of 262.
Four became five as a mix up between Michael Clarke and Steve Smith brought a run out, as Tom Craddock a substitute fielder collected the ball down at third man and threw it towards Matt Prior, he then saw Smith and Clarke mess up for a single and Prior threw the ball down the other end where James Anderson collected and smashed the wickets as Smith was run out for (19).
England continued to pressure the Australian batsmen, as the Aussies tried to pile on the runs ahead of the England run chase and saw Brad Haddin go for (8) as his effort went high up in the air and saw Broad take the catch.
|gloomy weather at Old Trafford via yahoosports.
Mitchell Starc became the Seventh wicket to go down for Australia. As he connected on the toe end of the bat and saw it loop up to Swann for the easiest catch of the game, as Starc went for (11) and Australia was 172 for 7 with a lead of 331.
Then came another incident involving the umpires, as the two officials got together and had a word with Alastair Cook and made a spinning movement to him to say that where they going to use “Spin bowling or fast bowling?”.
Cook wasn`t going to play spin, so the umpires took the players off the pitch for bad light much to Michael Clarke dismay and anger at the sides going off.
Clarke remonstrated with the umpires about the decision and was fuming with the decision as despite the floodlights turned on and it not that gloomy.
Play was abandoned as the Manchester rain poured down on and off for the rest of the 4th day and so we headed into an interesting Day 5 of play.
Day 5 came and due to the terrible weather overnight and early morning rain around Old Trafford it led to Australia declaring and setting England 332 for victory.
There was a tinge of blue sky just above the ground before the first ball was bowled and it seemed it would help England with the sunshine trying to come out.
In the first over Disaster struck England as Cook was out lbw.
Cook decided to review it though it was pretty much certain it was going on to hit as it was plum in front of the wickets and it wasn`t a great start at all for the Hosts.
Things got worse as Trott tickled a ball down leg side off Ryan Harris and it nestled into the gloves of Haddin as Trott headed back for (11) with England struggling at 15-2.
The Aussies were in complete control of the game now, Michael Clarke dropped a Root which could have been a crucial point of the game, as England were in trouble and the players seemed to have a half hearted approach to it. The England side seemed to have consigned themselves already to not playing due to the weather before the days play and so struggled to get their game heads on.
We then had yet another incident involving the umpires and DRS.
The incident revolved around Kevin Pietersen being given out by Tony Hill after Brad Haddin appealed following a Siddle delivery to which Haddin took. Pietersen stood firm as the umpire raised the finger to Pietersen dismay, he then asked for the dismissal to be reviewed as the England Batsman was not impressed at all with the decision.
After replays showed no evidence of being edged on hot spot, however there was a noise on the microphone on the stump. Yet the 3rd umpire thought there enough evidence to keep with the umpire’s decision.
|via BBC SPORT
Decision came up on big screen and much to the joy of the Australians the umpire gave Pietersen out and the England batsman was absolutely furious with the decision as he muttered and vented his anger as he left the field, shaking his head and muttering in frustration over it too, That meant England were 27-3 as Pietersen departed for 8.
The match then descended into a stop start game as the rain came down and continued to fall as the side took lunch while the rain fell and continued to fall. Play lasted 3 balls as on the third ball, Ian Bell took a nasty hit to his right thumb from the bowling of Peter Siddle as the Warwickshire man got the ball loop up at him as it evaded the slip catchers and Bell ran for 2 runs, before getting treatment and then the rain fell and unfortunately would continue to rain for the rest of the afternoon session and with the weather as it was. It looked highly unlikely we would get much play in at all.
Time passed by and at 16:50pm, the news filtered through to the media that the game was called off for rain and in the process saw England Retain the Ashes for this series at least, and England will know that they were let off massively by the British weather.
As this test shown Australia look to have found their batting mojo again and England`s Top order batsman desperately need to work on their batting to rediscover their own form, as they have let the side down in this series as the bowlers have got them out of jail too much over the past couple of series.
We now travel up north to the North East of England and in particular Chester-le-Street in Durham for the Fourth Test Match, as England will hope to make amends for their performance and try to make the series 3-0 and not stop their opponents from having any chance or letting them in the series and draw the series too.
England lead series 2-0 & retain the Ashes.