Ground staff work on the pitch as rain delays the start of the fourth day’s play of the fifth Ashes Test match between England and Australia at The Oval Cricket Ground in London, yesterday.
LONDON: Australia’s hopes of forcing a consolation win in their Ashes finale against England were left hanging by a thread after rain washed out the whole of the fourth day’s play at The Oval yesterday.
Conditions worsened throughout the day and, with rain pelting down under increasingly dark skies, the umpires finally abandoned play for the day at 4.06pm local time (1506GMT) with only a handful of hardy spectators, some sheltering under umbrellas, still in the ground.
The bad weather was especially frustrating for Australia, who were seeking a first win in nine Tests and trying to avoid their first Ashes series without a Test victory since 1977.
England, who at 3-0 up had already won the five-match series and retained the Ashes, were 246 for four at stumps on the third day in reply to Australia’s first innings 492 for nine declared,
That left England 245 runs behind and still requiring a further 46 runs to avoid the follow-on.
Ian Bell, who came into this match having scored exactly 500 runs in the series with three hundreds, was 29 not out and Test debutant Chris Woakes unbeaten on 15.
The way England batted on Friday, scoring at barely two runs per an over, suggested they were in no mood to give arch-rivals Australia a sniff of victory.
Meanwhile, batting coach Graham Gooch defended England’s go-slow tactics in the fifth and final Test as Australia’s James Faulkner warned the return Ashes ‘Down Under’ later this year would be “played on our terms”.
Former England captain Gooch refused to apologise for the team’s approach at The Oval.
“You go out there and do the best you can every day and, at the end of the series, if you are in front then you have played some decent cricket obviously,” said Gooch. “The Australian fast bowlers have bowled exceptionally in the last two or three Tests and have really put our top order under pressure so credit to them,” explained Gooch, whose own Test career started with a pair -- two noughts -- against Australia at Edgbaston in 1975.
“You can’t play the ideal game every day. We are the ones with three Test wins and they are the ones with nil Test wins,” added former opening batsman Gooch of an Australia side seeking a first victory in nine Tests.
However, Gooch accepted improvement was required if England were to win a fourth straight Ashes campaign when they faced their arch-rivals a return series starting at Brisbane in November.
“We know that to beat Australia in their own back yard we are going to have to be a lot better both with the bat and the ball.” AGENCIES