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Live Commentary: The Ashes - England vs. Australia - Fifth Test, day three - as it happened

Read how Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen made half-centuries to help England bat throughout the third day of the fifth Ashes Test against Australia at the Oval, courtesy of Sports Mole's live text coverage.
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England resumed day three of the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Oval 460 runs behind Australia and hoping to reach the follow-on target of 292.

Joe Root and Alastair Cook put on 68 for the opening stand before Cook (25) edged Ryan Harris behind to Brad Haddin.

Root went on to make a half-century, although later gave his wicket away sweeping Nathan Lyon, but it was slow progress for the hosts who scored at just over two runs an over.

Jonathan Trott (40) spent some valuable time at the crease and Kevin Pietersen joined Root in passing fifty, before Ian Bell and debutante Chris Woakes, who ended the day unbeaten on 29 and 15 respectively, guided England to 247-4 at close.

Below, you can read how the action unfolded in London.


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Good morning. Well, there's good news, and there's bad news. Which one do you want first? Let's start with the good news, shall we?

The good news is that the weather forecast for the day is great, much better than yesterday, with no rain predicted and even prolonged periods of sun forecast between 11am and 2.00pm.

But, the bad news is, England trail Australia by 460 runs and their hopes of beating the old enemy 4-0 for the first time are quickly slipping away.

Of course, a series victory has already been wrapped up, but Alastair Cook would love to make history and knows that he has a job on his hands with the bat if they are to but themselves in a position to do so.

It would be a timely innings for Cook if he can rack up a big score here. He has made three half-centuries during this series, but hasn't added to his tally of 26 Test centuries yet.

Jonathan Trott is another who has been having a lean series, while Joe Root has one big score to his name but has largely struggled at the top of the order. Performances from the top three today would be pleasing for Andy Flower ahead of the return series in November.

Around five minutes until the start of play in London...

The players are out and Peter Siddle, who bowled beautifully yesterday evening for no reward, is to finish the over that was interrupted by bad light last night. He has three slips and a gully to Joe Root. Play!

Three dots from Siddle, but he fails to make Root play at any of them. Australia's other threatening bowler from last night, Ryan Harris, will begin from the other end. There will be 93 full overs play today, weather dependent, here is the first of them...

Cook nudges one into the leg side to bring up 1,500 Test runs against Australia. There are signs of some movement from Harris, but he drifts onto Root's pads with one that doesn't swing and is worked away for four through mid-wicket. A front-foot no ball means six off the over in total.

A single down to fine leg from Cook begins the over, allowing Siddle a go at Root. As he has done at times throughout the series, he delivers from wide of the crease, creating an angle into the batsmen and then wobbling the ball away. He beats Root with a couple of beauties that the Yorkshireman does well to miss.

First boundary of the morning for Cook, as he throws his arms at a slightly wide one from Harris. The ball travels aerially through backward point on its way to the fence, which will encourage Harris, who has two gullys in place for the England skipper.

More good stuff from Siddle, who brings out a leading edge from Root and then a genuine nick that Smith stops well diving at third slip. The England opener is being given a tough time, but he finishes the over in brilliant fashion, driving superbly through cover for four.

Harris is starting to crank it up a bit now and a sharp bumper is smartly helped round the corner by Cook for one. Root also picks up a single to fine leg, but Harris was touching 89mph at times.

PARTNERSHIP: Root drops and runs into the off side, with David Warner missing the stumps attempting to run Cook out at the keeper's end. That single brings up England's first stand of 50 for the opening wicket during the series, and each batsman has contributed 23 runs.

Replays suggest that a direct hit would have seen Cook back in the pavilion. There is some late away swing from Siddle to Cook, but the ball ends up being a wide, three of them in-fact as Haddin palms the ball down to third man.

Just as Harris was getting going, Aussie captain Michael Clarke swaps him for Mitchell Starc, who, as he was last night, is a bit all over the place. There is swing in the air, but Starc cannot land the ball in the right places to make use of it. Root pushes a two through cover point, and another no ball follows.

In contrast, Siddle is right on the money and is bowling to a new field set by Clarke, with a man on the drive at extra cover. It's generally a fuller length from Siddle, and Cook twice drives to mid-off for no run. Maiden.

Starc is getting the ball to swing back into Root's pads, and he clips into the leg side for a well-run two. Good fielding from Warner saves four after Root smashes a full toss to square point. Clarke is at mid off, trying to encourage his struggling bowler through this rough patch.

A change of ends for Harris and he causes England problems straight away. A leading edge from Cook into the off side brings one after a slight misfield from Warner. Harris gets one to nip back into Root and he inside edges onto his boot and then the ball bounces over the stumps. That was close!

The speed gun clocks Starc at above 90mph for his first two deliveries of the over, but Root isn't phased as he opens the face for a guided four through third man. The Aussie seamer responds with one that swings back late that Root again plays on to his pads.

REVIEW! Harris strikes Cook, playing across the line, on the pads and there is a big appeal for lbw. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena says no, and following consultation with bowler and keeper, Clarke calls for a review. With England going well and the pitch offering little, this referral is more in hope than in expectation. The ball was certainly clattering the stumps but appeared to pitch outside leg stump. Hawk-eye agrees, and the original decision stands. Australia lose their first review.

Slightly better from Starc, who is bowling more aggressively than he was last night, regularly hitting 90mph, but not his area. He gets his line wrong to Root, who times a flick off his legs beautifully to the mid-wicket fence. Whispers of an appeal for a catch down the leg side end the over. Drinks.

SCORE UPDATE: ENGLAND 68-0 (Root 35*, Cook 25*) - ENGLAND TRAIL BY 424 RUNS

WICKET! COOK CT HADDIN B HARRIS 25

All club cricketers will tell you that drinks bring a wicket! Harris finds the edge of Cook, who just pushed slightly at a ball that was angled across him. Fine margins, and an old problem for the England skipper, who will now likely finish the series without a century.

Great over from Harris, who gives Trott a couple of early scares, firstly with one that swings in and nearly clips off stump with the England number three leaving. He then straps the new man on the pads, but there was some bat involved and the Aussies are aware of the inside edge and don't appeal.

Starc is wide throughout and the angle across Root means that an outside edge flies wide of the slips and down to the third man boundary. A push into the covers takes Root to 40 and ends what I imagine will be the last over of Starc's spell.

Clarke persists with the two men catching in the mid-wicket area and a leg slip for Trott as he has done when the Warwickshire man has first come to the crease throughout the series. Harris finishes the over with a great bouncer that Trott gloves onto his helmet, and to safety on the off side.

Contrary to my suggestions, Starc continues, but there is a change of approach as he goes around the wicket to Root. It doesn't look very penetrative, but he's more accurate and doesn't offer the Yorkshireman an obvious scoring opportunity. Maiden, but I would still bring Starc off now. Lyon has been loosening up for the last half an hour!

An attempted yorker is flicked off Trott's pads for two, and Harris is quick to return to the short-ball ploy that troubled the England man at the end of the last over. Trott ducks out of the way of a couple, before getting on top of one and dropping the ball past leg slip for a single.

A very wild set from Starc, who is being given the chance to find some rhythm courtesy of this long spell generously handed to him by Clarke. Two or three balls go down the leg side, and he is wided for a high bouncer as Australia continue to attack Trott with short stuff.

Another excellent over from Harris, who is the second leading wicket-taker in this series, only behind England's Graeme Swann. He is relentless in his line and length at Root, who is stubborn defending from his crease. A slightly fuller length and Harris would be right in the game.

Trott picks up a single as Starc begins another over. Another over goes by without the left-armer threatening, and a leg bye off Root's thigh pad takes England to 80. We are going to see spin for the first time today, with Lyon coming on for Harris.

There is some turn for Lyon, but it is slow and he is generally too short to Root, who is most comfortable playing from his crease and picks up a single with a back-foot push. The off-spinner brings Trott forward with the final ball of the 40th over - the run rate is a very reserved two an over.

After three failed predictions of him being so, Starc is pulled out of the attack and replaced with the more reliable Siddle, who immediately has an lbw appeal on Root turned down. The ball was clipping leg stump, but a review would have seen the decision stand due to 'umpire's call'. Root pushes for three through extra cover, and Trott survives the final two balls of the over.

Lyon is around the wicket to Root, who is shuffling across his stumps to get outside of the line and negate the lbw threat. There is again turn as the ball deflects off the pad for a leg bye, and Trott picks up two with a clip off his hip.

FIFTY! Root passes fifty for the second time in the series, reaching the landmark with a well-timed flick which dissects the two fielders on the leg-side boundary. A pull for one takes him to his half-century, which has come from 145 deliveries.

LUNCH: Lyon bowls the last over before the interval, and Root adds one more to his score by turning the off-spinner into the gap on the leg side. Trott drives for three, with a partial stop and good chase from Chris Rodgers denying him his first boundary. Another easy single to square leg for Root is the last run-scoring action of the session, which unfortunately for Australia, yielded just one wicket.

A good session for England, who only lost captain Alastair Cook in the 26.3 overs this morning. Joe Root steadily accumulated runs to reach an important half-century and despite good spells from Harris and Siddle, Australia weren't as penetrative as they would have liked to be.

Right, I am going to join the players in having some lunch and will return at around 1.40pm. See you in around thirty minutes!

The players are on their way down the Oval steps and back out towards the middle. Australia will want quick wickets in this session, while Joe Root will be looking to edge towards a century.

James Faulkner didn't get a bowl during the morning session, but Michael Clarke has given him first go after lunch. Hopefully he can provide more accuracy than Australia's other left-hander, Mitchell Starc, and help the tourists build some pressure. In he comes to Root...

Root starts very fluently after lunch, cutting through gully to the third man fence after Faulkner offered him some width. He follows that up with a lovely straight drive from another Faulkner freebie.

Clarke turns to his most reliable bowler at the other end - Peter Siddle, and as usual, the workhorse does not let his side down, dot Trott up. The two fielders on the catch at mid wicket are in the game, as on of them, Smith, makes a good diving stop to ensure a maiden.

Faulkner is angling the ball across Root and trying to induce a loose drive out of him. One shot flies off the edge but is squarer and short of the gully fielders, but, in general, the Englishman looks comfortable after lunch.

Trott steers three towards third man, and a brilliant chase and slide by Warner prevents four. The Warwickshire man is clearly having a few technical problems this series and has grafted his way to 12 from 37 balls.

Two maidens in a row for Faulkner, but there is little sign of movement from this 49-over old ball. Shane Warne has admitted that Faulkner rarely swings the ball and relies more on seam movement, which this pitch has yet to offer him.

Siddle begins his over with a beauty that leaves Root late and continues to swing after it has past the bat. He follows that up with a bumper, but Root is characteristically quick on the short ball and he pulls away for four.

Root certainly looks more comfortable against Faulkner than he does against Siddle, and he adds one more to the score with a single to long leg.

Two flicked through the leg side off Root's toes is the only notable action of the 52nd over. Nothing seems to be happening for Australia, so Clarke has turned back to Mitchell Starc, his best reverse swing bowler, to see if there is any sign of it.

PARTNERSHIP: Trott is always happy coming forward and gets a big stride in to lean on the ball and pick up two through extra cover. Starc follows up with a couple of bouncers, and Trott again feels that taking evasive action and ducking out of the way is the best option.

WICKET! ROOT CT WATSON B LYON 68

Nathan Lyon is brought into the attack and he gets the breakthrough for Australia. Root tries to sweep, but the ball bounces and gets high on him, resulting in a top edge and a simple catch for Shane Watson at short fine leg. A good knock from Root, who would have been keen to prove that he was not a one-innings wonder at the top of the order. He will though be disappointed getting out in that fashion when a hundred was on the cards.

Credit should also go to Chris Rogers, whose excellent bit of fielding in the covers the previous ball had kept Root on strike, and may have helped bring out that slightly loose shot. Kevin Pietersen is the new man in.

As ever, Pietersen is keen to get off the mark early but he turns down a single to mid-off after a couple of purposeful strides down the wicket. Starc tempts him with several wide ones, but KP does not take the drive on this early in his innings.

Trott plays out a maiden off Lyon, who is operating around the wicket to Pietersen, but over the wicket to the rest of the batting lineup.

A lovely straight drive off Starc gets Pietersen going, but he is then drawn into chasing after a wide one that is angled across him, and the ball just sneaks under the inside edge of the bat.

Lyon has now bowled 12 consecutive dots at Trott, who is happy to defend on the front foot. Perhaps a couple more men around the bat would deter the England number three from lunging so happily.

Another maiden, this time from Starc to Pietersen. The tempo of the innings is still very slow. Trott is 15 from 65 balls, and Pietersen just has the one boundary from the 19 deliveries he has faced. I doubt KP will allow this to go on for much longer.

Trott clips two off his hip before Lyon gets the ball to spit and turn out of the footmarks and catch him off guard. He fends at it unconvincingly, but then Lyon strays onto his legs again and Trott collects another single. KP faces just one ball in the over, using his feet to come down the track and pad Lyon away.

Starc is just a tad short and Trott punches him through the off side for two, and then flicks him off his hip in the air, as he did to be dismissed at Lord's, just short of Siddle at fine leg, who may have been able to attempt the catch if he had seen the ball earlier in flight. Pietersen pushes into the off side and runs. Warner's superb pick up, spin and direct hit is in vain as KP's giant strides had ensured he made his ground, although Aleem Dar had a check upstairs just to make sure.

DRINKS: Pietersen's attempted drive off Lyon is mistimed so badly that England can scamper through for a single while the ball dribbles to mid off. Trott takes one to mid-on, and then everyone takes drinks in the middle of this long afternoon session, which will continue until 4.10pm.

Harris is given his first roll of the afternoon and Trott bounces on a tame, short offering first up, this time getting on top of the bounce to flick the ball to the square leg fence - his first boundary of the innings. The same shot brings him one next ball.

Half a chance for Australia, as Lyon, who has bowled very well so far this afternoon, finds the inside edge of Pietersen, but the ball just evades the stretching hands of Steve Smith at short leg.

Appearing desperate to us the run rate, Pietersen nearly slices a catch to point playing a drive away from his body. He is frustrated next ball too, when Harris gets a hand down to stop his straight drive rolling away for four. A single into the leg side means KP keeps the strike.

After both Pietersen and Trott pick up singles to mid-on, with the man back on the rope for KP, Lyon brings Smith into the game again as he again finds Pietersen's inside edge. This one wasn't quite as close as the previous near miss. A shorter delivery turns into the batsman and hits the pad, with Pietersen trying to flick through mid-wicket. No real appeal, though, as the ball would have been bouncing over the stumps.

A maiden from Harris to Trott, who manages to dig out a couple of yorkers that were probably missing off stump by a foot or so anyway. The interesting action is coming at the other end!

CHANCE! This is turning into a fascinating battle between Lyon and Pietersen, who nearly gets himself out when calling for a run to mid-on, but Warner had made up great ground from straight mid-wicket, picked the ball up but missed, throwing off balance from close range. KP would have been long gone.

Trott has looked shaky to say the least against the short ball in this innings and he takes one, via his forearm, in the helmet from Harris. There is a short delay as Trott reassembles his protective headgear, but this weakness is something Australia may look to attack on the quicker, bouncier pitches down under.

Lyon has bowled very well around the wicket to Pietersen, and Clarke could be tempted to put in another catcher behind square on the leg side. England's number four does manage to flick one away for three through mid-wicket, but he has largely struggled against Australia's off-spinner.

We see spin at both ends with Steve Smith chucked the ball by Michael Clarke. It's a good start from the batting all-rounder, who lands all six in good positions in his first over, which is blocked out by Pietersen.

A Trott dab backward of point brings up England's 150, and also gets Pietersen back on strike to Lyon, who now has an extra close catcher, but on the off side. Smith is helmet-less as he stands just yards from Pietersen's bat and watches him defend the remaining five balls.

Smith is bowling a very straight line and trying to tempt the England batsman to play against the spin, of which there is some, evident by the third ball of the over, which kicked and bounced out of the rough. Both Trott and KP pick up ones to mid-on.

It is now 12 overs without a boundary for England, and they are scoring almost exclusively in singles off the spinners. Three come from the over, two to Trott and one to Pietersen.

The crowd cheer ironically as Pietersen hits Smith for four down the ground, which was almost positively not where he was trying to hit it. He seemed to be aiming in the mid-wicket region when the ball sliced off his bat, landed safely over Smith's head and dribbled into the rope. He adds a single, and Trott does the same.

SCORE UPDATE: ENGLAND 161-2 (Trott 33, Pietersen 25) - ENGLAND TRAIL BY 331

Following another maiden from Lyon, Smith produces a stunning ball that turns just ever so slightly and goes past the edge of Trott's bat and just above off stump. When he drags one down, though, it is easy pickings and KP and Trott each clip out to the man on the square-leg boundary for one.

PARTNERSHIP: Trott and Pietersen have, albeit very slowly - from 145 balls, put on 50 for this third-wicket partnership, with Pietersen contributing half of those. They were helped in this over by four byes, but there was nothing Brad Haddin could do as a big turner from Lyon bounced through Trott and his gloves for four.

With just two overs until the new ball, Clarke calls for Harris and Starc to get loose as Smith drags when down and Trott pulls him to the mid-wicket fence. It has been mostly good stuff from the part timer, but the pitch is slow and short balls sit up and are easy pickings.

Lyon completes the 80th over and Clarke wastes little time in calling for the new cherry and handing it to Mitchell Starc, and we don't have to wait long for something to happen...

REVIEW! Starc gets one to just swing back a fraction, a classic left-arm delivery which cannons into the pads of Trott. There are doubts over height, and whether it may have been missing leg, but Aleem Dar, after much consideration, puts his finger up! Trott meets with Peitersen in the middle, but may as well not have. He was always going to review that!

WICKET! TROTT LBW STARC 40

Four reds from hawk-eye signals the end of Trott's 134-ball vigil, and he falls in the 40s for the third time in this series. A good delivery first up from Starc, and an even better decision from Aleem Dar.

Starc continues to bring the ball back into the pads, this time of new man Bell, who leaves well outside of his off stump. He then punishes a bit of width on offer that comes with the angle, driving, slightly aerially, through backward point for four.

TEA: Harris shares the new ball with Starc and concedes just one run as KP climbs on top of a bouncer to drop it into square leg. The main pre-tea attraction, though, is the war of words between Pietersen and Clarke, who have been exchanging 'pleasantries' since Trott's dismissal. They are still at it as the players leave the field for a 20-minute tea interval.

I am going to take one too, see you in around 15 minutes for the evening session of today's play...

We are back underway at the Oval, with Starc to bowl to Pietersen...

The evening session begins with a maiden, but there were some loose offerings from Starc and Pietersen was visibly frustrated to miss out on a long hop that his cut straight into the ground.

Ian Bell is looking to become the fourth man - after Herbert Sutcliffe, Wally Hammond and Don Bradman - to score four centuries in an Ashes series. It's very early days here, but he moves on to five with a single, before Pietersen pulls round the corner off a Harris bouncer.

An attempted yorker from Starc turns into a waist-high full toss that Bell struggles to pick up and ends up fending away. The Aussie seamer then gets it right, going through Bell's gate with a peach that somehow missed off stump as it swung back in.

Another maiden from Harris - his eight of the innings. Lyon is limbering up in the gully, despite this new ball being just seven overs old. Perhaps Clarke is thinking that the harder ball may bounce more and cause more problems, particularly around the wicket to the lunging Pietersen.

Back-to-back maidens from the Aussies, and there is no sign as of yet that England plan to up the tempo in this evening session. Chris Woakes is due in next. It will be interesting to see how he approaches things on Test debut.

A productive over for England yields eight runs off Lyon, four of which came from byes down the leg side after Haddin failed to get a glove to a bouncing delivery. England now need less just 96 to avoid the follow-on.

Bell plays out four dots from Starc and then nudges a single to square leg. There are plenty of singles on offer on the leg side against Lyon too, and three more of them see England reach 200 in the 90th over. It hasn't exactly been carnival cricket.

Siddle has regularly taken the ball when it is about 10 overs old in this series, and his introduction into the attack here is met by another maiden. There is no intent at all from England, which is frustrating the paying public in Surrey.

Pietersen moves on to 40 with a single off Lyon, and Bell blocks out the rest of the over without bringing any of the three catchers around the bat into the game. This is quite dull stuff, if I'm honest with you.

More ironic cheers from the Oval crowd as Pietersen pulls for a single off the last ball of Siddle's over to ensure we won't have another maiden. Australia scored at nearly four runs an over on this pitch, what is the difference here? More disciplined bowling?

A push from Pietersen to mid-on is the only scoring shot in the over, and it does feel like England have been dealing exclusively in singles since tea. We may get some of the rain that has been forecast for tomorrow soon, as some grey clouds are starting to circle over the ground.

Clarke rotates his seamers again, bringing James Faulkner into the attack. Once more, there is just a single off the over, and again it is Pietersen, who clips off his pads for one to the man out at square leg. Bell, who now has nine from 49 balls, plays out the rest of the over without even threatening to unleash an attacking shot.

REVIEW! Australia gamble with another review, and waste their final one of this innings. Siddle strikes an advancing Pietersen on the pad with one that nipped back a fraction. There's a big appeal, Siddle is convinced, and he seems to persuade Clarke to go upstairs. Umpire Dharmasena's decision stands as, although the ball was hitting the top of off stump, it hit KP outside of the line. Two off Siddle's over, both singles.

A check of the light meter from umpire Dharmasena follows a Faulkner maiden to Bell. I doubt play will continue until 7.00pm considering that the officials are already having a look.

As if play wasn't slow enough, both batsmen are continually pulling away to complain about movement behind the bowler's arm. Quite why spectators are sitting so close to the sight screen, I'm not sure. That would certainly solve the problem!

FIFTY! Pietersen is so close to chopping on to his stumps while attempting to pull Faulkner, and the ball trickles to the fine leg boundary to take KP to fifty. It's come off 125 balls, and is the second slowest half century of his Test career. Drinks!

Siddle runs in for the 100th over of this England innings, and he attempts to bump Bell, who has bags of time to go back and pull powerfully through mid-wicket for his first boundary of the session.

WICKET! PIETERSEN CT WATSON B STARC 50

Starc angles a very full ball across Pietersen, who just hangs his bat out at it. There is an edge on the way through to Watson hip height, who takes a comfortable catch, but Aleem Dar wants to check that it wasn't a bump ball. The replay shows that it went off Pietersen's edge into Watson's hands without hitting the ground. Starc has a second, and Pietersen goes for 50.

That is what the crowd came to see! Debutante Chris Woakes with the perfect start to his Test batting career, stroking Starc through cover for four in confident fashion.

Harris makes it clear that Woakes won't be receiving any welcoming half-volleys from his end, and one short ball hits him on the gloves, only to land well short of the slips. Harris has a word or two for Woakes too. Australia may look to attack him with Bell looking so at ease.

Bell drives uppish, but just clears the jumping fielder at extra cover. Warner produces another excellent chase to limit them to three. Woakes is tested with a couple more bouncer from Starc, but they aren't accurate, and the Warwickshire man flicks off his pads to the boundary to move on to eight.

A leg bye brings Woakes on strike, and he gets in behind the short stuff from Harris and is more convincing in defence on this occasion. His first-class average is over 37, which isn't bad at all for an all-rounder.

Twelve overs left in the day, providing the umpires persevere with this increasingly-gloomy light. Bell takes one off Starc's over, and Stuart Broad is padded up on the balcony. Perhaps he will be used as the nightwatchman in the absence of Bresnan.

Captain Clarke calls for a helmet, and Steve Smith goes under the lid at short leg as Australia try to target Woakes with some short stuff. He responds brilliantly though, with a well-timed back-foot drive off Harris that travels straight of mid-off to the rope. Wonderfully played, and that's the third boundary of his innings, already more than Bell has managed.

Lovely shot from Bell, as he pounces on an over-pitched delivery from Faulkner, into the attack in place of Starc, to drive beautifully through cover. That's the Bell we know and love.

Australia will be reluctant to overwork Harris in what is effectively a meaningless Test match. That is probably him done for the day, as Clarke brings on Lyon to see how Woakes copes with the turning ball. The answer is, fairly well. He certainly seemed happy to use his feet. Maiden.

SCORE UPDATE: ENGLAND 242-4 (Bell 26*, Woakes 13*) ENGLAND TRAIL BY 250

Bell leans on a length ball from Faulkner and manages to squeeze it through the infield on the off side. Warner chases it down and again makes a good diving stop. Three runs. Australia have not let the intensity drop with the ball or in the field despite it being late in the day.

Another maiden from Lyon, but at least Bell was positive in his shot selection. Two drives from half volleys were well stopped by Smith at extra cover. On too many occasions today, those type of run-scoring balls have just been patted back.

Signs that the overhead conditions are playing on the mind of both the umpires and Clarke. Dharmasena has another check of the light meter, and the Aussie skipper turns to his second spinner, Smith. Six dots follow, but Woakes will feel that he should have made more of a juicy full toss.

Lyon doesn't manage to trouble Bell in his 24th over of the innings, until he switches to around the wicket and beats him with some dip. The ball came off the pad, but Bell was outside of the line.

After starting positively, Woakes seems to have fallen into the same lull that every other England batsman has today. He is happy to pat Smith full tosses and long hops straight back to mid off.

England's very defensive approach and Bell's constant and unnecessary delaying tactics are a firm suggestion that the hosts are going through the motions, waiting for the close of play. Five maidens in a row, now.

The first run in 33 balls comes from the bat of Woakes as he pushes a single through cover off Smith. This really has been tedious and negative batting from England. Lyon to begin the final over of the day...

A bat pad off Woakes drops just wide of Warner at short leg, and the debutante comes through for another single through cover to leave Bell the last two balls of Friday's play. Lyon tries over, and around the wicket, but cannot break Bell's stubborn and incessant defences.

CLOSE! ENGLAND 247-4 (Bell 29*, Woakes 15*) ENGLAND TRAIL BY 250 RUNS

A part of me is glad that's over. I appreciate that Australia posted a big first-innings total, but England have batted with absolutely no intent to put themselves a potentially winning position, with a historic 4-0 series win not completely out of their sights. A very defensive approach from Alastair Cook's side, who produced some tedious cricket for the spectators today. Then again, they have probably put themselves a position from which they are unlikely to lose, and that is how the England camp will look at things.

Credit to Michael Clarke's outfit. On a pitch offering little assistance, his seamers kept plugging away all day, and Ryan Harris was again impressive, although it was Mitchell Starc who picked up two wickets. Nathan Lyon was again reliable and caused England, in particular Kevin Pietersen, plenty of problems with both new and old ball.

That's about it from me from the Oval. Be sure to return to Sports Mole tomorrow for what will hopefully be a more exciting day of cricket! Thanks for joining us today.

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England's Ian Bell is congratulated by team mate Tim Bresnan after reaching his century on day 3 of the 4th Ashes Test on August 11, 2013
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