Heading into the final day of the thrilling fourth Test, England needed to claim five more wickets to level the series at 2-2 and set up a decider at the Oval in London next week. The home team fought valiantly, putting in their best efforts to bounce back after their victory at Headingley in the previous Test.
However, despite their determination and efforts, the wet weather played spoilsport, breaking the hearts of the home fans, as it denied England the chance to secure a series win in Manchester.
With the draw, England’s hopes of winning the series were dashed, and Australia, as the current holders, triumphantly retained the Ashes.
“Our preference is to come over here and win the Ashes but it is nice to retain,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said. “It’s not the best circumstances but the group should be proud of themselves.
“We wanted to win this time. Whatever happened here today it doesn’t really change how we look at The Oval next week.
“It is only the last year or two I’ve dreamed of holding the Ashes aloft. We’ve turned up motivated and it will be a very special moment at the Oval and even more special if we get a win.”
They posted a colossal 592 in their first innings — their highest Ashes innings total on home soil since 1985 — in reply to Australia’s 317 all out.
Yet they were frustrated as the tourists battled well on a rain-hit day four to reach 214-5 in their second innings.
Australia still needed 61 to make England bat again, or stay at the crease through to stumps on day five to earn the draw that would ensure they remained holders of the Urn.
The Manchester weather, however, came to their aid, as not a single ball was possible in torrential rain, ensuring that England’s eight-year wait for a series victory that would wrest the Ashes back from Australia would continue.
There is still plenty to play for next week at the Oval, especially for Australia, who can secure their first series win on English soil since 2001.
“It is a tough one to take,” England captain Ben Stokes said. “Playing the cricket we managed to play over the first three days and get on the wrong side of the weather it is tough to take but it is all part of the journey.
“Coming into the game, knowing what we needed to do, played into our hands a little bit. It was another do or die game for us.
“It will be tough to look back on but there is one more game to go and we’ll be trying to tie the series and a lot of pride to play for. We want to draw the series like in 2019.”
(With Reuters Inputs)
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