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Dampened glory: Australia retains Ashes after washout ends play

Australia has retained the Ashes after persistent Manchester rain forced the final day of the fourth Ashes Test to be abandoned.

Under pressure to try to save the game, Australia had been poised to resume on 5-214 with 61 runs still needed to make England bat again.

But instead it was able to watch the rain fall throughout the day, allowing the tourists to retain a 2-1 lead in the series with one more match to play.

There had been a brief hope of play after lunch on Sunday (local time), but moments after the umpires approved a 1pm start, the rain returned.

And from that point it never let up, before umpires and the two teams agreed to call off the match at 5.23pm.

Australia’s effort to retain the Ashes marks the fourth straight series it will have them in its keeping, after winning them back from England in 2017-18.

But the draw in Manchester marks an incredibly anti-climactic way for Australia to retain the urn, after a series of high drama and close matches.

“Obviously not the best circumstances,” captain Pat Cummins said.

“2019 felt a little bit different [when Australia retained the Ashes at Manchester]. It was a climax late on day five.

“This feels a little different. It’s not been our best week, so rain probably helped us out there.”

England already felt aggrieved by its controversial 43-run loss to Australia at Lord’s earlier this month, furious when Jonny Bairstow was stumped in the run chase.

The first Test at Edgbaston was also won by Australia in thrilling circumstances, after Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins put on a match-winning 55-run ninth-wicket partnership.

England hit back to make the ledger 2-1 with a three-wicket win at Headingley a fortnight ago, and this Old Trafford Test has been the first lopsided match of the series.

After England dominated the opening three days of the contest by having Australia all out for 317 and hitting 592 in reply, only 30 overs have been possible across the final two days.

“To play the cricket we played over the first three days in a game we had to win, it’s obviously disappointing to walk away here and not go to The Oval 2-2,” captain Ben Stokes said.

Australia, though, can take credit for resisting England for the two hours of play on a rain-affected and shortened Saturday, with Marnus Labuschagne the only man out on day four for 111.

Mitch Marsh also soaked up 107 balls for his 31, proving his worth after keeping his spot in the team following a run-a-ball century at Headingley a fortnight ago.

With the urn now safe in their keeping, the Australians remain desperate to win the series in Thursday’s fifth Test at The Oval.

Cummins has long maintained his side has no interest in only drawing the series, as they eye off being the first Australian men’s team to win an Ashes series in England since 2001.

That desire is partly driven by the fact Australia walked away with an empty feeling from England four years ago, when it retained the urn with a 2-2 series draw.

“Whatever happened today doesn’t really change the way we look at next week,” Cummins said.

“We’re here to win, we want to try and do something an Aussie team hasn’t done for 20-odd years.

“It’s a big motivator for our group. No one in our group has done it before as a player.”

Aussie women washed out in Irish downpour

Australia’s women’s one-day match against Ireland has also been abandoned, without a ball being bowled, after heavy rain lashed Dublin.

No play was possible at all at Clontarf in the Irish capital on Sunday. The match was called early in the afternoon when it became clear the match could not begin.

Australia and Ireland will play two further one-day internationals, with the final two games on Tuesday and Friday.

The ODI series is the first between Australia and Ireland since 2005. However, Ireland did shock Australia in a T20 World Cup warm-up match earlier this year.

The matches will be Australia’s first since it retained the multiformat Ashes with 8-8 points draw in unconvincing circumstances last week.

Sunday’s washout came after Australia called Tess Flintoff into her first national squad once Heather Graham was ruled out of the series with a calf tear.

-AAP

Topics: Ashes
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