Australia retain Ashes after final day of fourth test washed out

MANCHESTER, (Reuters): Australia retained the Ashes after the fourth test at Old Trafford was drawn on Sunday with no play possible on day five due to rain, leaving England trailing 2-1 in the series with one match to play.

England needed to take five more wickets in Manchester on the final day of a thrilling fourth test to level the series at 2-2 and ensure the final test at the Oval in London next week was a decider, but the wet weather broke home hearts.

The result meant England cannot win the series and therefore Australia, as holders, would retain the Ashes.

“Our preference is to come over here and win the Ashes but it is nice to retain,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said. “It’s not the best circumstances but the group should be proud of themselves.

“We wanted to win this time. Whatever happened here today it doesn’t really change how we look at The Oval next week.

“It is only the last year or two I’ve dreamed of holding the Ashes aloft. We’ve turned up motivated and it will be a very special moment at the Oval and even more special if we get a win.”

Having won the last test at Headingley, England did everything within their power to storm back and restore parity in the series in Manchester.

They posted a colossal 592 in their first innings — their highest Ashes innings total on home soil since 1985 — in reply to Australia’s 317 all out.

Yet they were frustrated as the tourists battled well on a rain-hit day four to reach 214-5 in their second innings.

Australia still needed 61 to make England bat again, or stay at the crease through to stumps on day five to earn the draw that would ensure they remained holders of the Urn.

The Manchester weather, however, came to their aid, as not a single ball was possible in torrential rain, ensuring that England’s eight-year wait for a series victory that would wrest the Ashes back from Australia would continue.

There is still plenty to play for next week at the Oval, especially for Australia, who can secure their first series win on English soil since 2001.

Read more: Smith And Labuschagne Exits Give England Hope Of Staying In Ashes Contention

“It is a tough one to take,” England captain Ben Stokes said. “Playing the cricket we managed to play over the first three days and get on the wrong side of the weather it is tough to take but it is all part of the journey.

“Coming into the game, knowing what we needed to do, played into our hands a little bit. It was another do or die game for us.

“It will be tough to look back on but there is one more game to go and we’ll be trying to tie the series and a lot of pride to play for. We want to draw the series like in 2019.”


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