The final Ashes Test of the 2013 series looks to be heading for a bore draw after England frustrated Australia throughout the third day’s play at the Oval.
A slow, methodical approach steered the hosts to 247/4 at stumps meaning the match should end in a stalemate with adverse weather forecast for the majority of the weekend in London.
Openers Alistair Cook and Joe Root will have been delighted to return to the crease on Friday morning having fended off the Aussie attack for 20 overs in Thursday’s final session and they maintained poise to record, unbelievably, their first 50 partnership of the series.
Cook’s stay in the middle ended shortly after however as he was caught behind from Ryan Harris for 25 – England fiddling their way through the day at little more than two runs per over.
Root notched his second and much overdue half century of the summer alongside Jonathan Trott before falling inconspicuously to Nathan Lyon for 68, whilst Trott carried on sensibly alongside Kevin Pietersen.
The pair put together a slid partnership before Trott was caught lbw by Mitchell Starc for 40, leaving Bell to continue with Pietersen who looked in good touch en route to an impressive 50.
Pietersen became England’s fourth batsmen to fold, edging a catch flush into Shane Watson from Starc, but it did little to harm England’s steady progress which resulted in the hosts being just 55 runs shy of the follow on at the close.
The teams are expected to be kept waiting by the weather on Saturday morning and it seems as if England will have little to do before they can celebrate a 3-0 series triumph.
However, should the forecast prove wrong, a quick flurry of wickets for Aus in the morning will put Michael Clarke and his men bang on track to record the consolation Test victory that they have so craved since Chester-l-e Street.