Live Commentary: The Ashes - Third Test, day five - as it happened

Live Commentary: The Ashes - Third Test, day five - as it happened
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Live text coverage of the fifth day of the third Ashes Test as England look to retain the Ashes by securing a draw at Old Trafford.

Australia were hoping to keep their hopes of regaining the Ashes alive by forcing a victory on the final day of the third Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford.

The start was delayed due to rain, but Australia took control once again when play did begin, with the hosts being reduced to 27-3 in the morning session.

However, the rain returned just three balls into the afternoon session and the poor weather stuck around for the rest of the afternoon to ensure the match ended as a draw.

The result means that England retain the Ashes and head into the final two matches of the series with a 2-0 lead.

Read below to find out how England made sure they will keep the urn for the third successive series.


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10.30amGood morning everyone. I've got some good news. I've also got some bad news. Heavy rain has been falling for most of the morning at Old Trafford, but a 10.45am pitch inspection suggests that we could have played earlier than first expected. The bad news is that a lot more rain is expected later today. A day of frustration could well end with England retaining the Ashes.

10.33amAn 11am start has gone out of the window, but hopefully there's a chance of play in the next hour. Australia haven't officially declared just yet but I'd expect England to be batting when we do eventually start.

10.35amAustralia need something very special, that much is obvious. England will just have to bat for a day which looks like it will be dominated by rain delays. A draw looks the most likely result at the moment.

10.38amThe covers have been removed. A number of Australian players are having a look at the playing area. The umpires are heading out to the middle now, so some news is expected soon.

10.41amThe umpires are locked in discussions. It's clear that Australia are eager to get things going soon. How long will this spell of dry weather last?

10.44am17,000 tickets were sold for the fifth day before the Test had begun. Sadly, it doesn't look like Old Trafford will be hosting anywhere near that number of people today.

10.50amBREAKING NEWS: The umpires confirm that play will begin at 11.30am, if there is no more rain. Michael Clarke has also declared, so England will begin their second innings 331 runs behind.

10.51am98 overs are scheduled to be bowled today. I'm not sure we'll get those in though. This could be the longest dry spell of the day, with further rain expected later this afternoon.

10.54amAustralia need to be at their absolute best to force a victory. Nathan Lyon, in particular, has a big role to play today. If Australia can strike a couple of times with the new ball, Lyon will come into the attack full of confidence.

10.58amAlastair Cook and Joe Root could take the sting out of Australia's attack with a solid opening partnership. The tourists need early breakthroughs if they are to make life difficult for England.

11.02amAustralia must be very aggressive. Clarke can be a brilliant captain in these kind of situations. He'll know the importance of attacking fields and when to rotate his bowlers.

11.06amThe Old Trafford ground staff have done an incredible job to get the pitch and outfield into shape. It looks good out there right now. Let's just hope the rain stays away.

11.11amThere's plenty of cricket to come, hopefully. However, I just wonder if Australia would have fancied their chances of recording a win more if the rain stayed away this morning. There's a good chance the tourists could just run out of time.

11.15amJust 15 minutes before the start of today's play. The first couple of hours will be crucial for Australia. England won't be thinking about the win, they'll just be focused on survival.

11.19amThere's plenty more supporters in the ground now. They might be surprised to be preparing for cricket so early. It will be tense, so hopefully the fans can make the atmosphere even better.

11.22amRemember the Old Trafford Test in 2005? Will it be England's turn to be battling to save a draw? Possibly not, but a few wickets early on will certainly increase the pressure.

11.26amPlay is five minutes away. England begin the final innings of the match 331 runs behind. They need to bat out the day to retain the Ashes. Australia require 10 wickets to win the match.

11.28amClarke leads his side out to the middle and they're closely followed by Cook and Root. Crucial period of play coming up in the next couple of hours.

11.29amRyan Harris is thrown the new ball. The stage is set, here we go. Play.

ENG 0-0Harris starts with a couple of deliveries pushed across the watchful Cook. The seamer settles on a good length later in the over and Cook is almost surprised by some extra bounce. No false shot. Maiden over.

ENG 0-0Mitchell Starc is asked to share the new ball with Harris. Root isn't asked to play early in the over. The left-arm seamer is struggling to hit the line and length that's expected of him. Root won't mind more overs like this one. It's a maiden, but a wasted one.

ENG 0-1WICKET! COOK (0) LBW B HARRIS

ENG 0-1Brilliant start for Australia! Harris gets one to swing back and hit Cook on the front pad. Tony Hill raises his finger. Cook reviews, I'm not sure why. Hawkeye proves the ball would have hit middle stumps. Awful review and Cook must depart.

ENG 1-1Trott comes out to the middle. He needs to find some form today. Clarke moves a fielder to short-leg to greet the new batsman. Trott defends a couple of balls before getting off the mark with a single to fine-leg. One run and a wicket from the over. Disastrous start for England.

ENG 2-1Trott hands the strike to Root with a nudge through square-leg. Much better bowling from Starc. Root is forced to play, albeit on the back foot where he prefers to do most of his business. Starc almost sneaks one through the defence but an inside edge saves Root.

ENG 5-1A thick inside edge from Trott squirms behind square on the leg-side for a couple. Trott then nudges a quick single to get away from the danger zone. Harris, bowling with good pace, produces a beauty to beat Root's outside edge. Root readjusts to defend well towards the end of the over. Harris looking dangerous with every delivery.

ENG 10-1Starc is improving with every ball in this opening spell. The seamer finds some late swing to excite the slips, but Trott is alert enough to knock the ball away from his pads. Another thick edge squeezes through a gap on the leg-side to give Trott four for the first time in the innings. Starc is punished by the umpire for a wide ball. No more threat to the stumps from the bowler.

ENG 10-1Root defends well on both the front and back foot in the over from Harris. There's some good bounce from the pacy seamer. Root is tested by the bounce but he reacts well to avoid any danger. Maiden over.

ENG 10-1Starc continues for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Siddle soon. Trott almost gets himself into trouble when he flirts with a delivery drifting down the leg-side. The batsman is asked to play for most of the over but there's no way through for Starc. It's another maiden.

ENG 13-1Root takes advantage when Harris goes too full to earn three through mid-wicket. That's his first scoring shot in his 26-ball stay at the crease so far. Trott leaves well outside off-stump, something he struggled to do in the first innings.

ENG 13-1It's not Siddle's turn just yet. Clarke turns to Shane Watson instead. The economical bowler starts with a typically tight line to Root. Rogers fields superbly at short mid-wicket to prevent Root from sneaking a single. No surprise to see Watson begin with a maiden.

ENG 13-1Trott plays a slightly indeterminate shot to a ball pitched on off-stump by Harris, but he does survive. Review! Trott breathes a sigh of relief when he survives an lbw appeal. Clarke isn't convinced and he decides to review the decision. It's very, very close but Hawkeye sides with the umpire, despite the technology showing the ball probably would have clipped leg-stump. You've got to feel for Harris there. Brilliant bowling.

ENG 13-1Watson seems to hit the same length with every single delivery. Root attempts to force the issue by coming onto the front foot to push the ball straight. However, he can't pick the gap to earn himself a run. Guess what? Shane Watson has bowled a maiden for what seems like the one millionth time in this series.

ENG 15-1Trott opens the face of his bat to earn a couple of runs through third-man.

ENG 15-2WICKET! TROTT (11) C HADDIN B HARRIS

ENG 15-2Harris does it again! Massive wicket for the tourists as Trott feathers a leg-side delivery through to the waiting Haddin. Australia are delighted. England are under real pressure here.

ENG 19-2Pietersen, the hero of the first innings, comes to the crease with his side in trouble. The new batsman is eager to get on the front foot as always and he gets off the mark in emphatic fashion with a powerful pull shot for four runs.

ENG 19-2Just under 30 minutes left in the session. It's time for Nathan Lyon. Important spell of cricket coming up.

ENG 21-2There's some big turn and bounce for Lyon early in the over, which forces Root into an uncomfortable position. A single brings Pietersen on strike. Pietersen's confidence is obvious as he drops to one knee to sweep the spinner behind square for a run. Just two from the over.

ENG 22-2Harris is given a rest following that successful spell, with Siddle coming on to replace his fellow seamer. Siddle is straight to Pietersen, who is fortunate to get an inside edge on a delivery which was destined to crash into the stumps. Drop! What a chance for the Australians to take their third wicket. Siddle catches the outside edge with a beauty but Clarke puts down Root at second slip. Awful mistake from the captain. That should have been caught.

ENG 24-2Pietersen lunges forward to push Lyon through cover for two. There's a look of disbelief in the field from Clarke, who still cannot believe he dropped that ball in the previous over. Pietersen advances down the pitch but he misses with a flamboyant shot. No blocking from England's number four. Good bowling from Lyon though.

ENG 27-2Root gets on top of the bounce to push three runs past point. Siddle appeals for caught behind as Haddin celebrates the catch. Tony Hill raises his finger. Has Pietersen touched that? He doesn't think so and chooses to review...

ENG 27-3WICKET! PIETERSEN (8) C HADDIN B SIDDLE

ENG 27-3Strange umpiring. There's only a faint noise, but it's not a clear edge, and not a thing on Hotspot, so surely Pietersen is not out, right? Wrong. Pietersen is forced to depart and his anger is clear for everyone to see. Australia all over England at the moment. The DRS controversy continues.

ENG 27-3England are in a state of shock at the moment. The in-form Ian Bell has a big job on his hands as he comes to the crease. Bell blocks, before seeing a beauty nip away past the outside edge. Beautiful bowling from Siddle. Root 7* Bell 0*

ENG 31-3Root continues to battle away. The Yorkshire ace is given the opportunity to reach the rope when he pulls a poor shot ball from Lyon. Root is digging in out there, but he needs some help.

ENG 33-3If there was an edge involved during Pietersen's dismissal, which the snickometer used on television shows, then why do we use Hotspot? We're told that the technology can sometimes miss an edge but I can think of a number of occasions where contact has been missed in this series. Siddle is typically accurate with his line and length, conceding just a single from his six balls. One over left in the session.

ENG 35-3Well here's something a bit different. Clarke decides to stretch that troublesome back to give himself an over before the lunch break. Root sits deep in his crease to flick the first ball away for a single. Bell is forced to stretch a long way to get bat on ball outside off-stump. A drive through cover brings a run. Just two from the over.

1.02pmLUNCH: What a session for the tourists. Three huge wickets means that Australia have a real chance of recording an unlikely victory at Old Trafford. The weather could be the only thing in their way. Root 13* Bell 2*

1.03pmEngland need a big innings from someone. They cannot afford to rely on the weather at the moment. They're being tested by some brilliant bowling. Can they save this match and retain the Ashes?

1.05pmWe're going to take a break for 30 minutes but make sure you return as this engaging contest continues. It's starting to get gloomy around Old Trafford. Is the rain returning? See you soon.

1.34pmWelcome back everyone. Australia headed into lunch delighted, but the bad news is that we had some light rain during the interval. The main hover cover is on, so the ground staff might be expecting more rain.

1.35pmPlay is due to resume in five minutes. The last thing Australia need right now is rain. We're expecting some more showers, it's very dark at Old Trafford right now.

1.36pmRAIN! It's a heavy downpour at Old Trafford and that has prompted the Lancashire staff to bring on the rest of the covers. What a shame.

1.39pmThe umbrellas are up. Supporters are taking cover wherever they can. It might be good news for England but we're missing out on some fantastic cricket due to this horrible weather.

1.43pmWell the resumption of play has officially been delayed. Frustration for Australia, relief for England. If this continues for much longer then England will be on course to retain the Ashes later this evening.

1.45pmCook and Trott both seem to be struggling for a bit of form at the moment and their problems were exposed by Harris, who bowled superbly to take two wickets in the first session.

1.47pmEngland's Kevin Pietersen walks off after being given out off the bowling of Australia's Peter Siddle© Getty Images

Pietersen was the third batsman to be dismissed after he failed to successfully review a caught behind decision. His anger was clear to us all as Australia celebrated once again at Old Trafford.


1.50pmBREAKING NEWS: The rain has passed, for now. We're told that play will resume at 2.00pm. Five overs have been lost.

1.52pmTea will be taken at 4.20pm. In a perfect world without any rain, Australia have 73 more overs to take the seven wickets they need.

1.56pmThe covers are off and the players are heading back out to the middle. Australia need to get straight back to business and not allow the current England duo to settle after the break.

1.57pmWe're almost ready to start play again, despite the dark clouds lurking at one corner of the ground. Root 13* Bell 2*

ENG 37-3Siddle starts the session with a brilliant length to beat Bell's outside edge. Close! Siddle produces another beauty to hit the batsman's glove, but the ball loops over the slips to the frustration of the bowler. Bell is in a bit of pain, or is he just wasting some time due to the worsening light?

ENG 37-3RAIN STOPS PLAY: Clarke and Watson both have a few words with Bell and the Australians are annoyed more when rain starts to fall again at Old Trafford. It's pretty heavy, so the covers are rushed on to the field.

2.08pmSiddle looked dangerous in that short spell before rain intervened. England will be relieved to be back off the pitch again. It's going to be a frustrating afternoon.

2.13pmIt's pretty steady rain at Old Trafford. The players could be off for a while, which means we will lose plenty of overs. Australia deserve the chance to have a crack at taking these wickets.

2.17pmYou feel that the next wicket could be crucial. Bairstow and Prior have looked vulnerable in the series and after those two, it will be down to the bowlers.

2.21pmI've just had a look at the weather radar. Sorry Australian supporters, it doesn't look very good at the moment. Not for the next couple of hours at least.

2.26pmIt's still raining. I'd like to know Clarke's thoughts right. "It doesn't rain like this in Sydney." Something like that, right?

2.29pmThe rain has just eased off in the last couple of minutes. There will be another pitch inspection at 2.45pm. Let's just hope the rain stays away for a bit longer this time.

2.32pmSiddle will probably get to bowl quite a long spell if we get back on soon. Harris could return soon too. Root and Bell have a tough challenge ahead of them.

2.37pmThe drainage system at Old Trafford is superb. It gets dry very quickly on the outfield, so I wouldn't be surprised if we're back on at around 3.10pm.

2.43pmRAIN! Forget that last comment. Just as it starts to look promising again, the rain sweeps across Old Trafford to ruin any hopes of play anytime soon. Australia will be wincing. It's not looking good for them.

2.47pmEvery moment that passes without cricket being played means more overs lost to the rain. It may not be the most rewarding way, but this weather could mean that England retain the Ashes tonight.

2.51pmFeel free to make yourself a cup of tea. It's gloomy at Old Trafford at the moment. We've finally seen Australia's best over the past five days, but it may not matter.

2.56pmSo, as Manchester continues to deliver it's share of the summer showers, we're left to reflect on another intriguing game in this Ashes series.

3.00pmWho have been your stars in this series? JAMES ANDERSON has been at his usual brilliant best and his heroics in the first Test snatched what was a tense, exciting contest.

3.01pmIAN BELL has surely been the standout performer though. The elegant batsman scored two fantastic, but very different, centuries in each of the first two matches. There's not many better players to watch than Bell when he's in form.

3.02pmPETER SIDDLE, for me, has been the best player for Australia so far in this series. The seamer has the ability to take wickets in any situation and he still manages to produce his best when some of his teammates are looking out of his depth. Siddle is definitely one of the most underrated bowlers in world cricket.

3.07pmI've got no good news for you. It's still dark and wet at Old Trafford. Keep your fingers crossed. Especially those of you supporting the men with baggy green caps on.

3.11pmThe final hour of the day will begin at 6.00pm. Australia need a long spell of dry weather to give themselves the opportunity to take seven wickets. Tea is scheduled for 4.10pm.

3.15pmI'm sure England fans won't mind the rain too much. They have been the best side in this series so far. If they retain the Ashes tonight, in whatever way, they'll definitely deserve it.

3.19pmIs there a worse sporting scene than a cricket ground being soaked by rain? There's some supporters still left in the ground but the longer this weather sticks around, the chances of the fans seeing any more play will decrease.

3.23pmThe drainage system may be superb. The ground staff can be brilliant, but the most recent forecast suggests that neither will be able to do their jobs in the near future. Plenty of rain still to come at Old Trafford.

3.28pmMy guess is that the pubs around Old Trafford may be getting some business at the moment. I'd also like to place a wager that a beer or two might be consumed by the English players if this rain sticks around for the rest of the day.

3.30pmPietersen is sitting on the balcony now, looking far happier than he did shortly after being given out controversially earlier on today. He can see the dark clouds, he probably knows how this match will end.

3.34pmI've got news for you. It's not really relevant but it's still news. The umpires have confirmed that tea has been brought forward to 3.40pm, which makes no difference to anyone because it is still raining.

3.41pmSo, the players are allowed to flick the kettle on 30 minutes sooner than originally planned. Clarke, like a kid who got socks for Christmas, is left looking at the dark clouds surrounding Old Trafford.

3.47pmUnfortunately, the rain has got even heavier in the least few minutes. I'm not sure how much longer the umpires will remain patient. The match could be under threat in the next hour or so.

3.51pmIt's certainly not been England's finest Test but it looks like they may have done just enough to secure a draw to keep that little urn for at least the next few months.

3.56pmShould Clarke have declared earlier? Australia have to win this match to keep their hopes of regaining the Ashes alive. If a declaration would have come last night, could the tourists have taken a few priceless wickets? It's all ifs and buts. We can still wonder though.

4.00pmEngland fans had to put up with series losses for years against the old enemy. I doubt they'll be feeling too sorry for the men from down under right now.

4.05pmHow long before cricket is played with a roof overhead? Sounds crazy, but I'm T20 cricket was out of the question in the old days.

4.10pmMichael Clarke, Shane Watson and Nathan Lyon of Australia walk off as rain falls during day five of the 3rd Investec Ashes Test match between England and Australia on August 5, 2013© Getty Images

Here's what the Aussies thought of the rain that brought play to an end earlier this afternoon.


4.13pmWe haven't heard from the umpires in a while, which is never a good thing. It might be the end of the tea break but the rain (still falling) means we aren't any closer to seeing cricket.

4.19pmPresuming this match does end in a draw, which looks likely, what else can Australia hope for this summer. The tourists have improved in this match and if they can find at least one victory in the final two games, they'll be well placed for the return series down under this winter.

4.23pmEngland have dominated for the majority of the series, but the scoreline could look very different if Australia continue to improve as the summer goes on. The Ashes down under could be a different story.

4.27pmWe've seen just three balls since lunch. I'm not confident we'll see another delivery bowled today. If that is the case, the series will be heading to Durham with the score 2-0 to the hosts.

4.32pmThe ground staff aren't even out in the middle at the moment. That's usually a bad sign, they clearly feel the rain is here to stay. We're running out of time.

4.36pmThe umpires are on the move. It looks like they're heading into the Australian dressing room first. I'm assuming the news won't be good. I'll bring you the latest when I get it.

4.39pmBREAKING NEWS: The umpires have confirmed there will be another pitch inspection at 5.00pm. Don't get your hopes up though because it still hasn't stopped raining. The ground staff have informed everyone that it will take approximately 90 minutes to prepare the field of play. None of that sounds like good news for Australia.

4.41pmMATCH ABANDONED - ENGLAND RETAIN THE ASHES! What an odd way for the day to end. Just minutes after the news of a new pitch inspection, the umpires have announced that the game has been abandoned. England have retained the Ashes by ensuring that they will avoid a series defeat.

4.42pmIt might not be the perfect way for it to happen but England have reached their goal by retaining the Ashes. It's taken Australia too long to find their form and they've been punished for their disappointing displays in the first two Tests.

4.44pmThere's plenty of handshakes and pats on the back in the England dressing room. They know they haven't been at their best but, in truth, it doesn't matter. The urn belongs to England once again. Can they kick on and win the next two matches?

4.45pmAustralia only have pride left to play for, but when you're wearing the baggy green cap, pride should always be present. Remember, the tourists can still draw this series and if they do that from this position, it may not be the worst summer in the world.

4.47pmSo, Australia will have to wait for the winter before they can think about winning the Ashes. It wasn't tense, it wasn't a classic but England have got the job done.

4.48pmThe fourth Test will begin on Friday at Chester-le-Street. You'll be able to follow live coverage on Sports Mole. England only need to avoid defeat to record a series victory but they'll be targeting a 3-0 lead.

4.50pmWe must end the day by saying well done to Australia, who have finally proven that they can do battle with their rivals. However, the day and the summer will belong to England. The Ashes have been retained with two matches to spare. It doesn't matter how it's done, none of those players will forget today. Goodbye everyone.

Australia's Ryan Harris celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of England's Jonathan Trott during the third day of the 3rd Ashes Test on August 3, 2013
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