Manchester, July 23 (IANS) Australia have managed to retain the Ashes as the fourth Test at Old Trafford has ended in a draw due to rain on Sunday. The result means that the Ashes urn will be headed back to Australia after this series ends.
England, who needed five wickets to force a win with Australia needing 61 runs to force the hosts into batting again. The Ben Stokes-led side was in a dominant position for the majority of the match, but they have been denied a crack at victory due to rain not allowing any play to happen on day five.
It’s also the first time that England have played a draw under Stokes’ leadership. Australia, after being on the backfoot at Manchester, will now have a chance to go for a series win in England for the first time since 2001.
England will now be hoping to win the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval, starting from June 27 and push for a 2-2 draw to end the series on a high. The rain had earlier wiped out two sessions of day four’s play on Saturday.
On Sunday, with the weather forecast being grim and the downpour not showing any signs of relenting, large puddles began to form on the outfield. Early lunch was taken as pitch inspections were pushed back by rain.
There was some hope for play when a start time of 1 pm local time was announced before the rain came back to thwart it. By 5:24 pm local time, hands were shaken between the two teams, thus forcing a draw.
“This is the worst possible way to end (England’s chances of regaining the Ashes). Two days of rain in July after everything we have seen in a terrific series. There has not been a dull session. It’s disappointing for spectators, viewers and players. Australia won’t have wanted to retain the Ashes like this,” said former England captain Nasser Hussain on Sky Sports.
Australia 317 and 214/5 in 71 overs (Marnus Labuschagne 111, Mitchell Marsh 31 not out; Mark Wood 3-27) drew with England 592