Good morning all and welcome to our live coverage of the fourth day of the fifth and final Ashes Test between England and Australia at The Oval. The Aussies are looking to wrap up an innings victory within four days having reduced England to 203-6 in their second innings. Alastair Cook
and his men know that any possibility of a draw is extremely unlikely, but they will be looking to at least make the tourists bat again.
Cook's dismissal last night has meant that England are now facing the prospect of a heavy defeat, although we are expecting some weather interruptions today. The Oval has been bathed in sunshine this morning, but we are now witnessing some extreme cloud above the stadium. Rain dance, anyone?
A lot will be on Moeen Ali
's shoulders this morning as he is still yet to bat for the Lions. England at least having the proposition of making Australia bat again to cling to. If they want to be able to do that, Ali will have to spend some decent time at the crease this morning.
made an inspired decision to bring on Steve Smith
last night as the captain-in-waiting took the vital wicket of Cook. Australia's outgoing skipper will be hoping that his bowlers can take the four important wickets required to ensure that his side go home on the end of a less embarrassing 3-2 defeat before the weather sets in.
Weather predictions have been all over the place this morning. Sources are stating that the heavy rain is expected anytime between 12pm and 3pm. It's safe to say that we will at least be getting some of the wet stuff at some point. Optimistic England fans will undoubtedly be casting their minds back to Headingley in 1981.
Redemption has already been achieved for Cook and company, but they will of course be disappointed at how they have given this game away. The hosts have batted poorly in both innings and their only saving grace that remains is forcing Australia to come out and bat again under weather-influenced conditions later today.
Should the Aussies do the expected today, it would be only the third victory that the tourists have claimed at the Oval in 17 Ashes Tests since 1948. Their other two wins came in 1972 and 2001.
appears in healthy spirits despite the prospect of rain having a major say today. The bowler spoke last night about his side's plans ahead of day four:
"We've got the new ball [to come], four wickets to get and a bit of cloud cover. We're probably not going to have a lot of time, but it's just about turning up and being ready to go, making the most of any opportunity we do have out on the field, whether it's six hours tomorrow or two."
Given the threat of rain, Australia will be looking to Mitchell Johnson to make the required breakthrough early on. The out-of-form Jos Butler is still at the crease and he will be trying to add some much-needed runs to his belt.
Could England salvage a draw from this game? Probably not, but history has shown that some industrious batting and the unpredictability of English weather means that nothing is impossible. If England are to have any hope, Butler and Wood will need to hang around for a bit - that is for sure.
Former England spinner Graeme Swann
is backing Australia to wrap up the game pretty quickly today, here is what he told told the BBC's Test Match Special:
"England are going to lose this game and deserve to lose this game unless rain intervenes. They shouldn't have too much trouble doing it this morning. If I was Michael Clarke, I wouldn't be staying patient. I'd be hunting for wickets - ask Mitchell Johnson to bowl as fast and as short as he can and Nathan Lyon to keep spinning it at the other end."
While the pitch is dry today, Nathan Lyon
will also have an important role to play. He has already taken the wickets of Jonny Bairstow
and Ben Stokes
and will be hunting out a few more before the rain.
A little more on the weather front. Heavy rain is expected to land at around 12pm, but should have concluded by 2pm. That's still a lot of hours for England to try and hold firm.
England do still have batting to come so it's not all over just yet. Moeen and Stuart Broad
both have Test centuries under their belts and Steven Finn's Test highest of 55 was produced off a long-standing 203 balls.
Both sides are now emerging onto the outfield as Clarke is given a standing ovation over the sound of the Australian national anthem. Siddle is to open the bowling at the Vauxhall End. Here we go!
Siddle opens up with a few identical away swingers that Buttler leaves alone well outside off-stump. The next is a little more on the money and Buttler defends out into the offside on the front foot. More neat footwork from the Englishman sees him produce an attractive drive down the ground, but his shot flies straight into the fielder. More blocking and a smart leave bring an end to a maiden over. Johnson up next, new ball taken too.
Wood is off the mark first up by tucking off his hips into the leg side as Johnson fires in a bouncer. Back on strike, Buttler is on the defensive again and a quick one wraps him on the top of the pads, much to the annoyance of Johnson who raises half an appeal. The batsman gets the better of his man next up by squirting a single off his pads to bring Wood back into the firing line. Johnson follows up with a wider one that the nightwatchman leaves well alone.
Siddle continues to probe around off-stump with the new ball and some nice seam positioning. Buttler is not the slightest bit interested and leaves everything, until he is required to prod forward and block solidly on middle stump. Wood puts himself in danger with some almost comical running before Buttler sends him back. Warner goes for the throw - if he hits he's gone, but it's a little wayward... Madness at the non-striker's end! Buttler ends the over with a quick double as an outside edge flies into the outfield.
Johnson opens up with a couple of wide ones that fail to threaten Wood, who then tucks another off his hips for a single. The floodlights are introduced and umbrellas are at the ready, but Butler does not mind as he drives beautifully down the ground for four to take him to 40. Four byes then follow to end the over after the ball crashes into Butler's shoulder and runs away for a boundary.
Continued industry from Siddle who has established camp just outside off-stump. Wood goes hard and catches a thick edge that flies over the slips and bounces away for four. Huge LBW shout now as Siddle traps Wood dead in front of the stumps, but it appears as though he has hit it... Review called for the Aussies!
WICKET! WOOD (6) LBW SIDDLE
So England lose their first wicket. Wood is trapped in front of the stumps lbw after the Aussies get their decision overturned using a review. It first looked like Wood got bat on ball before it hit his leg, but replays show that the leather clipped his front pad first. Ali in now...
is introduced into the attack and he invites Buttler to leave with the ball rising above the stumps. He throws in a slightly slower ball that has the batsman pushing forward as Buttler almost pushes a catch back to the bowler. England bring up a couple as Buttler drives straight down the ground.
Siddle runs the ball across the face of the left-handed Ali, who leaves the opening few deliveries. More of the same from Siddle, who then catches an outside edge that drops just short of first slip. Ali is unfazed and drives the next delivery straight to mid-off. Huge appeal from the diving keeper who thinks Ali has edged another, but Clarke opts not to review. More appeals next up with Ali seemingly trapped in front - appears a little too high, though. Brilliant over from Siddle!
WICKET! WICKET! BUTTLER (42) C STARC B MARSH
Oh no, England on the brink now! Starc opens up with a drivable ball and Buttler is on it a little too early. His shot flies towards Starc who is sitting a touch deeper than mid-off and he takes an impressive diving catch to come short and receive the ball. What can Broad do?
Broad moves off the mark with a forward prod into the mid-off region to bring Ali back on strike. The batsmen scramble another single, this time as Ali moves off the mark. Opener-in-waiting some are saying? Broad gets down luckily to send another shot deep and pick up another run.
Siddle is really making this ball talk now, Broad playing and missing by a couple of inches. The pitch produces some unexpected bounce that climbs above Broad's face to leave him rocking back, but he finishes the over with a boundary after driving productively off the back foot.
Marsh continues with his line of attack just outside of Ali's off-stump, who looks calm and collected for now. Ali bides his time before producing a wonderfully executed cover drive for four runs - straight out of the middle! He soon scores again with a straight drive that gives him another run down the ground.
Shoddy keeping from Peter Nevill first up in Siddle's over as he's unable to prevent the ball running away for four byes. Siddle responds with a beauty, however, which sees Ali blinking in the headlights with the ball running past his bat. More byes follow as another delivery breaks between keeper and first slip. Ali brings himself back on strike for the next over having tucked off his hips. England just about hanging on in there as Mitchell Starc is called on for Marsh.
Starc opens up with a delivery that just about evades Ali's edge with the outfield letting out gasps, before an identical delivery produces another play and miss. Nevill has to produce some standout keeping to prevent a wide one spilling down the leg side for four and he does so with a dive that would have most goalkeepers raising an eyebrow or two. Seeking to take advantage, Ali opens the face and chops away for four just behind square.
Time for some spin, then, and Nathan Lyon almost has his man as Broad prods hopelessly forward with a loose shot. England pick up a single with the next delivery, though, with Broad nudging into the offside. Lyon gets a huge one to rip and spin, and it gets the beating of both the keeper and Clarke in first slip. Drinks are on...
Ali bags another single with a tidy clip off the pads from Starc, who then responds with a straight one that Broad gets on top of. England's number ten chips one high and it just evades the fielder at mid-on as he picks up a few more runs. A play and a miss follows from Broad, who is perhaps undone by a bit of away swing. More strong work off the pads sees Broad move onto 10.
Lyon continues his work by firing it in full towards Broad, who gets forward to block out the threat. A few of these deliveries are turning nicely and could put a little bit of doubt into both of these batsmen. Mitchell Johnson is to come back on in the next over.
As expected, Johnson attacks Ali with the short stuff and the batsman drags away to give himself some room. Ali again pulls away from the next delivery, but somehow manages to catch the ball with a soft, dangling bat and the top edge flies away over the keeper for a boundary. Johnson continues with more bouncers and is punished with a wide from the umpire. The rain is just starting to fall... Ali loses his temper and throws his bat at a wide one, only for him to crash into fresh air. A single brings Broad on strike, who plays and misses.
How very English: a spinner bowling in the rain... Ali opts to slog but misses completely, but soon gets back on the defensive to see out the over. Boos ring out around the ground as the wet some becomes heavier. The umpires are looking upstairs and we are now heading off for a rain interruption.
RAIN STOPS PLAY... The groundsmen are now on at The Oval as the players trudge off the field with Australia needing just two more wickets to claim a victory in the fifth and final Test.
As predicted, the rain has had its say... We will keep you posted with the situation out on the outfield as things develop. Some weather bods are predicting that this might hang around for an hour or so. England will be banking on more of this if they want to see out a draw, which still seems like a highly unlikely event.
Away from this fixture, Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara has just made his final farewell from the international arena. He has been dismissed for 18 in his final innings for his country against India.
With the rain appearing to have bedded in for a while, it looks likely that the players will not be back out until at least after lunch has been taken. We will be back with you as soon as the covers are off, which should hopefully be a little later this afternoon. We still have plenty of overs to get through today.
A quick update from the officials at The Oval: play is now expected to resume at 3pm. The ground staff are currently seeing to the outfield and we should be back underway in just under 30 minutes.
We are just a few minutes away from the resumption of play. By the book, there are still 73 overs still left today with play possibly being stretched to 8pm should the Australians need the extra half hour. Should England somehow manage to cling on until tomorrow, more wet weather is expected to descend on London. Is this possible?
The players are now emerging out onto the outfield... The Aussies require two wickets to clinch this game, while England still trail the tourists by 74 runs.
Marsh gets us moving again by resuming his line outside Broad's off-stump. Broad notches a single on the up, leaving Ali to crunch a beautifully-timed drive to the boundary for four.
WICKET! WICKET! BROAD (11) B SIDDLE
Siddle is the man to lead the Aussies down at the other end, and he almost has Broad who swings wildly as he the ball flies past his bat. Siddle has his man with the next delivery, though, as Broad is bowled all ends up with the help of a little inside edge. Australia on the brink of victory...
Finn is the next man in for England and he leaves calmly with Siddle looking to attacking his first stump. England's towering batsman gets on the front foot next up to play a solid forward defence that sends the crowd into humorous applause. Finn flies at the next one and the ball misses the outside edge. Next up is an edge that cruises away for a couple, bringing Ali back on strike.
It's Ali's turn to go loose now and he throws the bat at a wide one from Marsh. Australia think they have their man when Ali goes on the pull straight up in the air, but the ball drops safely in the outfield. The bowler goes short on Finn, who ducks smartly to avoid the predictable bouncer before leaving well down the line.
Finn opens up by tucking away from the body for another single, much to the chagrin of Siddle. Ali is quick on his feet and steals another run with a short prod into space on the offside. Almost for the Aussies, however, as Finn catches the edge, but the strength of his forward push sees the ball fly away through the slips for four.
England are still trying to eek out some runs, this time as Ali squirts a couple into the offside. Four more runs follow for the number nine as he tickles one fine down the leg side to move onto 29. More width from Marsh then sees Ali crush another boundary away for four, despite some Aussies calling for a catch.
WICKET! ALI (35) C NEVILL B SIDDLE - AUSTRALIA WIN BY AN INNINGS AND 46 RUNS
Siddle almost has Finn, but the batsman sees the ball clip his bat and run away for a cheeky single. Smiles all round from both sides. Ali looks a little perplexed as the ball evades his edge, but he goes next ball slashing at Siddle, with the edge being comfortably taken by Nevill behind the stumps.
So there we have it, Australia win the fifth and final Ashes Test by an innings and 46 runs. A rather bizarre ending to our Ashes summer really, given that England will now regain the urn with a 3-2 victory despite being seriously outplayed in this final encounter. You get the sense that the England players just wanted this to be over with so they could resume with their celebrations.
Thank you for joining us throughout the summer as England managed to wrestle back the Ashes
on home soil. We will be heading off now with Alastair Cook
and his men preparing for the closing ceremony and the awarding of the much-yearned urn. Take care!