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Australia retained The Ashes cricket series yesterday after persistent rain saved them from almost certain defeat in the 4th Test in Manchester. From before the Test, the outlook for Saturday especially looked bleak, but when England declared on Friday afternoon they’d have hoped for more than the 71 overs they were afforded during the remaining two and a half days to try and bowl out Australia and set up a winner takes all decider at the Oval.

Good Start For England Before The Rain

Until the rain the game had gone completely to plan for Ben Stokes from winning the toss and putting the Australia cricket team into bat on Wednesday morning. Chris Woakes’ five wicket haul backing up his excellent return to the team at Headingley helped England dismiss Australia for an under par looking 317. Most of the Australians got a start but nobody beyond 51, which was made by both Marnus Labuschange and Mitchell Marsh meaning England were batting by early on day two. The game plan was clear, get themselves a big lead without taking too much time out the game with the weather forecast in mind. It’s fair to say that they delivered.

Zak Crawley has at times been a frustrating figure during his Test career, his potential and ability is difficult to doubt when you see him at his very best. His 189 from just 182 balls will be remembered as one of the great Ashes centuries; it provided the perfect platform for England to bat Australia out of the game. Joe Root made a classy 84 before being bowled by a Josh Hazelwood delivery that barely got up above ankle height and Jonny Bairstow backed up his good wicket keeping display with a belligerent 99 not out off only 81 deliveries smashing the ball to all parts in a last wicket partnership of 66 with Jimmy Anderson. Anderson contributed 5 before he was trapped in front by Cameron Green with Bairstow just one away from a deserved ton. The England cricket team had scored 592 at five and a half runs an over giving them a lead of 275 with two and half days remaining of the match, in normal circumstances this was game over but England knew time was going to be lost.

England Fail To Capitalise On 30 Overs

They set about the task of bowling Australia out well on Friday removing four batters. Mark Wood again bowled with pace and accuracy to take three wickets. Steve Smith and Travis Head fell to the short ball, Usman Khawaja feathered the Durham pace man’s second second delivery through to Jonny Bairstow. From the outset Saturday looked like a wash out but some play was possible, 30 overs in fact. In truth England didn’t take advantage of this. Marnus Labuschange took advantage of England not appealing when he edged behind he then tucked into the spinners when the light was deemed not good enough for England’s pace bowlers to operate to record his first century in England. Joe Root removed him for 111 to leave England praying to the weather Gods overnight.

Weather Concludes The 2023 Ashes

Unfortunately no play was to be possible on day five gifting Australia the retention of the urn when they were surely heading towards defeat, plenty still rides on The Oval with Australia trying to secure a first overseas Ashes victory since 2001 for them but it’s hard to not feel a little sadness at the elements denying everyone the finale the series deserved.