Good morning! First thing's first, let us check that dreaded weather forecast that could ruin both mine and your plans to sit in front of this enthralling cricket all day!
There was heavy overnight rain in London, but the covers were removed about half an hour ago and, as I type, play is scheduled to begin on time, but may be interrupted...
Should the weather gods be correct, there is no more rain due until after lunch, with a light shower predicted for 2pm, before the clouds clear again throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
If they get some fortune with the conditions, Australia
's aim will no doubt be to build upon Shane Watson's fantastic day-one knock and establish a huge first-innings score, batting England out of a winning position in the process.
With Brad Haddin and debutante James Faulkner
, who will be hoping to fare better than the new boys in the England side, in reserve for the tourists, a score of 500 plus on a very good batting track will likely be the target.
Simon Kerrigan, in particular, seemed to struggle with big-match nerves, and fell victim to the bludgeoning of Watson, who took his first two overs for 24 runs.
The slow left-armer, playing as England's second spinner in the absence of Monty Panesar, finished the day's play with figures of 0-53 off eight overs. Fingers crossed, the young Lancashire lad can control his anxiety when he is thrown the ball today.
All-rounder Chris Woakes
was also wicketless but generally bowled accurately and full on a pitch that offered little to the seamers. He did learn, though, that loose balls get put away at international level as Watson tucked into his short offerings.
Captain Alastair Cook
has admitted that leader of the attack, James Anderson, has been slightly off colour this series, but the Burnley-born paceman dismissed Clarke (7) and David Warner (6) yesterday to move above Bob Willis into second on England's list of all-time wicket takers.
However, neither Anderson nor any of England's other bowlers was able to dislodge Smith, who will have his sights set on a maiden Test century, which would likely establish his place in the Aussie side for the return series in just a few months time.
Just under five minutes until the start of play...
Watson's magnificent ton, just the third of a Test career that has seen him struggle to convert half-centuries into three-figure scores, has also, surely, guaranteed his place for the winter down under.
RAIN! The players were all whited up and ready to go, but a shower has just come across The Oval and the covers have been put back on for the time being.
Grey skies loom above the ground, but the floodlights are on at the home of Surrey Cricket Club, which means that there will be no problems with bad light when play does begin, which hopefully shouldn't be too long!
Where was I? Ah, yes, Mr Watson. Many had suggested that the inclusion of Faulkner for this match was Australia preparing for life after Watson, looking at the Tasmanian as a direct replacement for him in the all-rounder role.
But with nothing, except pride, riding on the result of this match, both teams seem to have taken the opportunity to plan for the series in Australia...
Usman Khawaja has been axed following a poor series at number three, a slot filled very successfully by Watson yesterday, who has indicated that is where he would like to bat in the future.
Kerrigan and Woakes are effectively auditioning for a place in England's touring party, with the former seemingly in pole position to be spin back-up for Graeme Swann, if Panesar is continued to be left out following his recent off-field indiscretion.
Woakes, meanwhile, seems to be an option England are exploring due to the fitness doubts over Tim Bresnan, who will miss the rest of the summer with a back problem.
Should this injury prevent Bresnan from featuring fully in Australia, Woakes, who averages 37.67 with the bat in County Championship cricket and 25.48 with the ball, may be the ideal replacement for an England camp who favour a number eight that can contribute important runs.
UPDATE: No sign of a permanent stoppage in rain at the Oval just yet. The covers have been on and off, and are currently on and thwarting Australia's progress.
Again, just a reminder of today's forecast for the Oval. Showers are scheduled for 2.00pm this afternoon, and then for 6.00pm this evening, but according to BBC Weather, it shouldn't be raining now, so who knows what we are actually going to get?!
On a tough day for England, one positive that they could certainly take from yesterday was Michael Clarke's struggles with the short ball.
The Aussie captain hasn't been a consistent scorer in this series, but he is still their one world-class player and based on his home form over the past two years, he could have a prolific time in England's tour down under.
So, to exploit an apparent weakness in his game in the final Test before the reverse series is not only convenient timing but excellent planning from the England camp.
It was Stuart Broad, nicknamed "the enforcer" for his ability to do so, who tested Clarke with an array of short stuff yesterday, and the England paceman also struck Watson on the unprotected side of his face with a mean bumper.
Clarke struggled to a 39-ball score of 7 before Anderson got him with a full delivery and England's two most senior seamers bowled beautifully in partnership at the Aussie skipper.
And with potentially 90mph, tall, hit the deck bowlers such as Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn in reserve and almost certain to travel to Australia, the short-ball approach could be a long-term tactic to Clarke.
UPDATE: The covers are still on and, in-fact, the rain seems to landing harder at the Oval. The umpires and the head groundsman are having council in the middle, and as soon as the covers are off there is any news, I shall let you know.
Of course, this isn't the first time that the rain has frustrated Australia this summer...
If you can cast your mind back to the third Test at Old Trafford, we can consider how this series could have been very different...
UPDATE: But first, an update from the current contest. The rain continues to fall and the umpires and captains have agreed to take an early lunch at 12.30pm.
And now back to our short trip down weather-disrupted memory lane, and to the third Test at Old Trafford, where Ryan Harris
and Peter Siddle
had reduced England, needing to survive the final day, to 37-3.
Three of England's key players, Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, were all back in the pavilion and the Aussies needed a further seven wickets in two sessions to pull the series back to 2-1.
As it turned out though, the rain came down, thwarting Australia, saving England, and ensuring that the Ashes
were retained following just three Tests.
Considering that Test, and England's narrow 15-run win in the opener at Trent Bridge, it is worth noting that the margins between the sides have often been slimmer than a 3-0 scoreline suggests.
FORECAST: There is every chance that play will start promptly after the rearranged tea interval, now due at 12.30pm. That 40-minute break and then the time that was designated for the originally-scheduled tea break, should give the rain time to clear, and the ground staff time to clear the covers so that we can hopefully get some cricket by around 1.30pm.
Jonny Bairstow, dropped by England for this series finale, is featuring for his county Yorkshire today and made a quick-fire 62 against Nottinghamshire this morning.
The 23-year-old scored 203 runs at an average of 29 in the first four Tests, and will now be hoping that he finishes the domestic seasons strongly in order to guarantee his ticket to Australia.
If the rain is still around when I return, we shall look ahead to that series down under, but in the meantime, I am going to join the players in having some lunch! I'll return at around 1.10pm with, hopefully, some promising news about the prospect of play today! Goodbye for now...
I'm back, but unlike me, the rain didn't leave the Oval during lunch. It is still falling, but there are brighter skies on the horizon, suggesting a dry spell may be on the way. Meanwhile, the super soakers are busy sponging up the sodden outfield, but there can be no inspection on the conditions until the rain stops, and I shall let you know if and when that happens.
Talking to BBC Sport, their weather man Nick Miller gave his weather outlook for the remainder of the Test...
He said: "There was always the possibility that the overnight rain would cling on - unfortunately, that's what has happened. Looking at the radar, there's been a narrow stream of rain running across The Oval, but it's dry north and south of it.
"The persistent rain has eased a bit, there may be some gaps in it and some drier spells, I can't rule out more light rain or even a few more showers in the afternoon.
"Tomorrow is still looking like a full day's play, but rain is forecast for Friday evening and the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for Saturday so it could be quite heavy. Sunday is looking drier though there may be showers in the vicinity."
The club cricketers out there will be hoping that this weather stays away on Saturday, particularly in Nottingham, where Wollaton CC meet Radcliffe-on-Trent CC in a big promotion decider. Thanks to Tim Young and Adam Davies for their tweets, best of luck boys!
Back to the international stage, and I think I promised you a preview of the winter series in Australia before I tucked into my ham and cheese wrap. So, while the rain continues to fall, I shall do just that...
What is certain is that it will be tougher going for England on away turf. The pitches will not be prepared with Graeme Swann in mind, and the home side are likely to manufacture conditions that will negate his spin threat as much as possible.
The tracks in Australia are traditionally harder and quicker, which favours pace bowling. Thus, Michael Clarke's side will fancy their chances, as the seam bowling department is arguably the only area that they can match England man for man.
If James Pattinson can return from injury, and Ryan Harris maintain his fitness, Australia have a group of pacemen, that also includes Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle, that can rival England's much-hailed bowling attacking.
Of course, there could be personnel changes down under for an experimenting Aussie side that are still trying to find the formula to success following the retirements of Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and, before that, Shane Warne...
...Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist. Not an easy task, granted, but the dropping of Khawaja and Jackson Bird for the Test at the Oval suggest that they are not central to Darren Lehmann's plans.
Instead, personnel such as Phil Hughes and Mitchell Johnson, who did not even travel to British shores this summer, could be recalled due to having a significantly better Test record on their own soil.
At 35 years old, Chris Rogers is certainly a late bloomer in Test cricket, but due to several of the names listed below, he has had to wait until now for a run in the side. Despite his initial selection probably being down to a familiarity with English conditions, his form this series will almost certainly see him retain his spot at the top of the order.
UPDATE! Good signs! It has stopped raining at the Oval, and some of the covers are slowly being removed. The umpires are out in the middle again, and will hold a formal inspection of the conditions at 1.55pm.
Just a couple of minutes away from that inspection. A reminder that Steve Smith
and Peter Siddle will resume at the crease unbeaten on 66 and 18 respectively, and will face up to a fairly new ball, that is just eight overs old.
COVERS! There was such hope! Light rain has started to fall again at the Oval and, during their inspection, the umpires have called for the covers to be put back on the pitch.
There also seems to be some concern from the umpires about the dampness of the outfield. Due to it only being light rain, and by that I mean just a few drops, the ground staff may be able to drag the rope around and pick up some of the moisture, which would hamper England's ability to swing the ball.
UPDATE! It has just been announced that play is due to start at 2.30pm, providing that there is no more rain. Finally some good news for the frustrated crowd in Surrey!
So, England's bowlers have 25 minutes to loosen up. They will have to have an excellent couple of hours if they are to put England in a position from which they could claim an historic win.
Remember, an England side have never beaten Australia 4-0 in a Test series. What sweet revenge that would be for the hosts, who were on the wrong end of several convincing scorelines in the nineties and early noughties.
The rope is indeed going around the outfield, being manoeuvred through and between the England fielders, who are undergoing their warm-up routines.
This extra drying time will be important for Cook and his bowlers, who will struggle to swing, and later in the day, reverse swing the ball in damp conditions.
Should that swing not come, England also have two slow-bowling options in Swann and Kerrigan, who I can now see talking with England spin coach Mushtaq Ahmed.
After a nightmare first swim in the shark tank that is Test cricket yesterday, Kerrigan will be itching to put that right today and prove why he is considered so highly by those in the England camp.
In many ways, it is a make or break day for the Lancashire prospect, whose place on the plane to Australia may well be determined by his performance in this match.
If he can overcome his nerves and impress, as he has done for his county and the England Lions, he may well persuade England to take him down under. If not, the selectors will have little choice but to turn back to Panesar, or even Kent's James Tredwell.
The players are hovering, either on the edge of the boundary, or on the balcony, waiting for the umpires. Smith and Siddle make their way out, and the long-overdue action is now just minutes away!
Following the rain, here is how the day's sessions will be broken up. Tea will be taken at 4.40pm, and the final session will begin at 5.00pm and last until 7.00pm, with an additional half-an-hour available for England to bowl the allocated 63 overs.
Here we go then, Anderson to Smith...and play!
A bit of swing as Anderson finds Smith's edge with the second ball, and the Aussie collects two down to third man. Next up, he opens the face and the ball travels finer and to the fence for four. Six off the first over of the day.
As expected, it's Broad from the other end and he beats Siddle with a beauty that nips away late. He then hurries the nightwatchman with a shorter one into his body, which Siddle squeezes, aerially, through the two fielders in the ring on the leg side for a couple.
A maiden from Anderson, but Smith is keen to get bat on ball to a few swinging deliveries outside of off stump that he doesn't really need to play at. Slightly dangerous tactic.
This is a lively start from Broad, who is hitting the pitch from back of a length and causing Siddle plenty of problems. He beats the outside edge, then squares him up in next ball defence. The makeshift Aussie number six gets off strike with a punch for three through cover, and Smith drops and runs into the leg side to complete the over.
WICKET! SIDDLE B ANDERSON 23
Brilliant from Anderson. He bowls a big inswinger at Smith, who is quick on his feet to flick through the leg side for three. Siddle watched that from the non-striker's end, but then is completely undone as Anderson follows that ball up with one that just moves away a fraction and clips his off stump. Far too good for Siddle, and Haddin is the new man in.
Anderson finishes the over with another big inducker that Haddin does well to keep out. At the other end, Broad dots up Smith and nearly gets him played on with one that rises, comes off the inside edge and bounces just wide of the stumps.
Haddin gets off the mark with a well-timed flick that races along the wide Oval square to the leg-side boundary. He is then hesitant coming forward as Anderson finds an edge that drops a foot or so short of Cook.
Broad has a man back on the hook, and tries a bumper at Smith, who feints to play before changing his mind. The excessive bounce causes Prior to concede a bye, and Haddin nudges of his hip to the man on the square leg boundary for one off the last ball.
Woakes into the attack early doors, and he starts well. Aleem Dar turns down an lbw appeal that looked to be going down, before Haddin is struck in a rather painful area. The Aussie glovesman looks down his trousers, has a quick count and checks his box is still in shape, and then takes one to fine leg to keep the strike.
Broad runs in to bowl the 100th over of the innings with light drizzle in the air. A leg bye brings Smith on strike and Broad immediately beats him with a bit of seam movement that somehow evades the outside edge and off stump. A single takes Smith to 75...
A fraction full from Woakes as Smith drives him through mid-off and the diving Kevin Pietersen to the boundary. He drags his length back for the remainder of the over, but too far on one occasion and is wided for a high bouncer. Smith's outside edge is again beaten as the England debutante finishes the over strongly.
Australia run through for a quick single as the ball drops into the leg side off Haddin's thigh pad. Smith smashes a wide Broad delivery to the point fence with aplomb, and then four more is added to the total with more leg byes down to fine leg.
The threat of rain seems to have disappeared for now, but it is raining runs in London as Haddin drives Woakes through mid-on for four. He then throws a wide out a wide one that Haddin flashes over gully to the boundary. Australia are quick to pounce on anything loose from the Warwickshire man.
There is a slight break in play as Haddin has some eye drops brought out. Anderson replaces Broad at the Pavilion End and bowls a testing line and length, but both Aussie batsmen pick up singles into the leg side before drinks are taken. Swing in the air for England, but just one wicket in this first hour.
Still seeking his first Test wicket, Woakes continues and good fielding, firstly from Broad at mid-on, and then from himself, saves two boundaries down the ground. It's a maiden, but he is certainly presenting Haddin with plenty of driving opportunities. There were three of four half-volleys in that over.
REVIEW! Prior goes up for a catch down the leg side off Haddin, but there is very little sign of an appeal from anybody else, even bowler Anderson. The England wicket-keeper persuades his captain to ask for a referral, which turns out to be awful advice! The ball is nowhere near the bat as it flicks the trouser on its way into Prior's gloves. One look at the screen is enough for the third umpire to confirm Kumar Dharmasena's original decision, and England are back in position before the signal is made. Prior may cop some stick for that!
Anderson just lost his line in that over, and an inside edge from Haddin goes for four through fine leg, but the Aussie batsman misses out on a short, wide delivery to finish the over.
Another maiden for Woakes, and he bowled a slightly better, shorter length in that over, making Smith play at every delivery. It's not bad, but I'm wondering how long it will be until we see Swann.
More light drizzle comes down at the Oval, as a few umbrellas go up. And when it rains, it pours, as a Broad misfield at mid-off allows Haddin a single and denies Anderson a maiden.
Smith has been stuck on 85 for a while but he picks up four with a lovely pull off Woakes - he is very quick on that shot, as many of the Aussies are.
A half chance for England as Haddin calls Smith through for a quick single, but Trott's throw is wayward and misses over the top by a couple of feet. As ever, a direct hit would have been close. A lovely back-foot punch through point takes Smith to 93 - his highest score in Test cricket.
Hmm, this is a strange one. With Swann and Kerrigan in waiting, Cook turns to Jonathan Trott, who is as surprised as anyone to have been called into the attack. Just a Haddin single from the over, though. Perhaps this is an attempt to draw a loose shot out of Smith in the nervous nineties.
A pull off the front foot from Haddin brings three to the long leg side boundary, and Smith's replica shot goes squarer and straight to Woakes for a single. Shot of the day follows from Haddin, who superbly punches a length ball from Anderson to the cover boundary in classy style.
CENTURY! Well it wasn't shot of the day for long! I suggested that Trott's introduction into the attack was to try and induce a big shot from Smith, and the Australian batsman responds to the challenge, smashing Trott over long-on for six to bring up his maiden Test hundred. An excellent knock, and he is visibly delighted, and relieved with the milestone!
WICKET! HADDIN B TROTT 30
A Smith inside edge brings Haddin on strike, and he tries to manufacture a shot, a late cut down to third man, when the ball was too full and he drags it on to his stumps. A fifth Test wicket for Trott! A dot to the new man at the crease, and in the Australian side, James Faulkner, ends an eventful over.
Understandably, Smith is now playing with confidence and a textbook cover drive splits the two fielders and races away to the off-side boundary. This is a long spell from Anderson, and still no sign of Swann.
That wicket has earned Trott another over, and Faulkner nudges into the off side to pick up his first run in Test cricket. Root was a bit slow to react in the ring there, but makes up for it with an excellent chase on the cover boundary to deny Smith an all-run four.
A single for Smith gives Anderson the chance to bowl at Faulkner, who fends unconvincingly at an Anderson delivery that nibbles away ever so slightly. He's got five minutes to survive until tea.
Broad returns for the final over before tea. He'll want to bowl at Faulkner, but Smith takes two and then a single off the first five balls to move to 112 not out at the interval. Faulkner prods a full Broad delivery into the off side, before the umpires remove the bails and wave the players off the field.
An excellent session for Australia, and for Steve Smith, who appeared delighted to bring up his maiden Test century. He was well supported by Brad Haddin (30), who was a rare Test wicket for Jonathan Trott. James Anderson picked up the other wicket, that of Peter Siddle, and has been the pick of the England attack thus far.
No sign of spin thus far. I'm certainly surprised that Graeme Swann has not been given a go yet. I would suspect that he might have the first roll after tea, and Simon Kerrigan will almost certainly follow him into the attack at some point. England won't want him contemplating his first-day nightmare any longer than necessary.
Incidentally - Smith has become the youngest Australian centurion in an Ashes series since Ricky Ponting. If he bats throughout the evening session, the tourists will expect to move towards 500.
Just reminding you that the adjusted schedule for the day means that the evening session will begin at 5.00pm, and could go on as late as 7.30pm, if it is decided that the conditions are good enough.
The players are refreshed and back out in the middle. Woakes to begin proceedings, bowling at Smith...
Woakes half stops a straight drive from Smith and limits him to a single. Faulkner cuts to third man and ends up picking two when the throw clatters the stumps and rebounds into the outfield. Another single into the leg side for Faulkner ends the over.
Australia, Faulkner in particular, seem to have been sent out with a license and the debutante hits Broad for three boundaries in the over. He signals his intent by smoking him over extra cover for four, and then twice backs away to carve him to the point fence. 17 off the over in total.
WICKET! FAULKNER CT TROTT B WOAKES 23 More innovative stroke play from Faulkner, as he gives himself room and flicks through the leg side after Woakes followed him. Next ball, the Warwickshire man digs one in and Faulkner top edges a hook, and Trott makes up good ground to catch well over his shoulder on the boundary. Nice little cameo from the Tasmanian.
Starc is the new man in, but the batsmen crossed while the ball was in the air so Smith is facing. He takes three of the remainder of the over and steals the strike for the next over.
Broad runs in with a spread field, even to new man Starc, who teed off to make a very quick 60 odd in the last Test match that he played in this series - at Old Trafford. There are ones everywhere, and even a couple of twos courtesy of some excellent running from this spritely Australian pair.
Starc goes two, four, one from the first three balls of the over, with the boundary coming from a big swing over the off side ring. Smith is happy to put him back on strike with a single, but then gets in on the action with a very unorthodox, hook-like stroke which plugs and trickles into the rope. Smith moves on to 126.
WICKET! STARC B SWANN 13 Swann is into the attack for the first time today, and as he so often does, he has an immediate impact. Starc misses a huge slog sweep attempt and is bowled for a quick-fire 13. Another useful, fast-paced partnership for the Aussies.
Swann's first action of the day brings an end to the 123rd over of this Australia innings. Harris is the new man, and he and Smith each pick up a single to edge the tourists towards 450.
A change of ends to Broad, who has all nine of his outfielders on the fence. Smith takes the one on offer. A slip comes in for Harris, but he pulls off his hip for a single, of which there are five in the over. Australia are past 450 now, when will they declare?
Harris greets Swann with a massive six over mid wicket, and then him and Smith each rotate the strike. Smith respects the last couple of balls from England's off-spinner, and then looks up to the Australian balcony, where Clarke is motionless. Bat on, is the message.
A relatively quiet over from Broad that yields just four. Clarke has his whites on, with collar up of course, which indicates that a declaration could be imminent. Does he want 500 first, though?
Harris his another maximum off Swann, this time straight over his head. Smith isn't looking for the big shots, but is running very well and picks up a two with the field back. He is unbeaten on 134, while Harris has raced on to 21.
Phil Hughes brings out a message from the dressing room, as well as a towel and a drink, which are deemed surplus to requirements by Smith. Harris backs away and lashes Broad through extra cover for four, and then gets some good fortune with an inside edge that Root prevents going to the boundary with a smart dive. Another productive over, nine from it.
WICKET! HARRIS CT AND BOWLED ANDERSON 33 Twenty five overs left in the day, and Anderson is thrown the ball again. He picks up his fourth wicket of the innings as Harris backs away and skies one. It looks safe for a moment, but Anderson sprints towards cover and takes a good, low diving catch.
DECLARATION! - AUSTRALIA 492-9 DEC Michael Clarke allows Nathan Lyon to make his way to the middle and ask for his guard before, saying 'that's enough', and calling his side in. Smith ends unbeaten on 138, a fantastic knock that might just be the making of the 24-year-old, and will certainly secure his spot at number five for the return series.
Two standout innings for Australia with Watson and Smith both making centuries, and some lower-order hitting, from Faulkner and Harris in particular, help the tourists post a daunting first-innings total. It is still a good batting track though, and England will back themselves to avoid the follow-on.
One curious observation from the day's play so far is that there was no bowl for Simon Kerrigan. Surely, Cook and company would not want him dwelling on the events of yesterday for too long, and could have handed him a bowl while the field was set back this evening?
Anyway, this will be a difficult session for the England batsmen. The Aussies will be fired up, Harris will be steaming in and there is still over an hour of play remaining.
A quick turnaround. Cook and Root are ready, Starc will have the first over, play!
A poor start from Starc, who drops short and allows Cook to pull for two to the covering Harris at fine leg. He then drifts onto the England captain's pads and is punished as four more follows.
Harris has been the pick of the Australian bowlers this series and is on the money from ball one. Root is happy to play mainly from his crease but then gets forward to see out the maiden.
Cook clips two more into the leg side, but Starc settles into a rhythm as the over progresses and finds some swing, with Cook chasing at one outside of off stump.
Root comes forward but sees his straight drive well stopped by Harris, who then offers the Yorkshireman a short ball to go at. Root connects well, but more good fielding from Warner prevents him getting off the mark. Harris replies with a jaffa, similar to the delivery that got the better of him at Durham, but this one just misses the off peg.
Cook takes a single off the fourth ball of the over to give Root his first view of Starc in this match. The left-armer fails to make England's young opener play, though, as Root lets two wide ones through to Brad Haddin.
Another maiden for Harris, who dots up Cook this time. There is nothing loose on offer from Australia's leading seamer. Everything is full or a good length. The tourists know how strong Cook is on the short ball.
Faulkner gets his first bowl in Test cricket and is much more accurate than the first three overs from Starc. For those that don't know much about the Tasmanian, he bowls left arm and in the early 80s. There is little sign of swing, but he does go past Root's outside edge before the Englishman replies next ball with three through backward point.
A double change from Clarke, who brings Siddle into the attack despite Harris bowling three consecutive maidens. He gets one to nibble away from Root straight away, but the Yorkshireman pushes a single into the covers to take one from the over.
Root moves on to five with one to backward square leg before Faulkner, bowling to three slips, hits the seam and beats the outside edge of Cook. Once again, the Aussie seam attack are bowling well at the England openers. No breakthrough as yet, though.
A poor ball from Siddle, who serves Root up a wide long hop that the batsman dispatches to the point boundary. That is one area that the England starlet will not miss out on.
Faulkner follows Siddle by dropping one in short and that is easy pickings for Cook, who pulls to the mid-wicket boundary. The Aussie debutante finishes well, though, getting one to nip back into Cook's pads, but height is an issue and there is no appeal.
Maiden. Great over from Siddle, who relentlessly hits a good length on off stump or just outside. Root comes forward confidently, though, a part of his game that he has been working on since stepping up to Test level.
Just the three overs for Faulkner as Clarke rotates his seamers again. Starc is back on, but slightly wayward again. Cook picks up another single before Root sees out the rest of the over, which included a very unwided wide, with ease.
How many times have we seen that this series? Siddle makes a slight adjustment and delivers from wide of the crease, angling the ball in and then taking it away with the seam. Root plays and misses two or three times in the over, but also gets four through cover with a front-foot drive.
There is a slight appeal from Haddin for a catch down the leg side, but Starc isn't interested, and he waves away Clarke before the skipper can ask him whether it was a review-worthy incident. The left-armer has simply not made Root play enough, though. He leaves the final three balls of the over without harm.
The start of Siddle's fifth over is delayed by some movement behind the bowler's arm, the Aussie seamer particularly unhappy as he had steamed in before Cook pulled away. The England skipper prods into the off side for one as England survive another over. It will be a successful evening if they are without loss at the close of play.
Three tame deliveries from Harris, who is introduced back into the attack at short notice. He brings Cook forward with the fourth ball and two is taken into the leg side from the fifth. Australia will be disappointed if they don't get a breakthrough in this next five minutes.
CLOSE! ENGLAND 32-0 The umpires offer the batsmen bad light halfway through a Siddle over, and understandably England take it, which brings an end to today's proceedings. Cook finishes unbeaten on 17, Root not out on 13.
A good, stubborn finish provided by England's openers, but the day belongs to Australia, who close with a lead of 460, and in particular, maiden-centurion Steve Smith.
The 24-year-old became Australia's youngest Ashes centurion since Ricky Ponting, making 138* as the tourists declared on 492-9 following some lower-order power hitting from the tail.
The weather may have delayed the start of today's play, but it was certainly good viewing when it got going. Peter Siddle's spell in the evening was excellent, and both Cook and Root did well to survive with their wickets intact. They will resume at the crease tomorrow, with England looking to avoid the follow-on.
That's all from me. Be sure to return to Sports Mole for live text coverage of tomorrow's play. Thanks for joining us today!