England have retained the Ashes following a rain disrupted final day of the third Test at Old Trafford – which unsurprisingly ended as a draw.
After a torrid morning session for the hosts, the weather soon played its part shortly after lunch and the two captains eventually shook hands on a stalemate early evening with no signs of the rain subsiding.
The result meant that England are guaranteed to keep the coveted urn with two Tests still to play and they will now focus on securing an outright series triumph when the sides go to Durham for the fourth instalment of the 2013 series on Friday.
A draw in the North East is all that is required for them to do just that, but Alistair Cook and co can consider themselves a shade fortunate to have escaped with that result from this contest after being dominated by the tourists since proceedings began on Thursday.
By the start of Monday’s morning session, Australia had worked up a lead of 331 and as expected, skipper Michael Clarke declared immediately to give his bowlers the best chance of beating the weather and taking all ten England wickets before stumps.
And for an hour and a half, they looked as if they were capable of doing just that as Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen all fell cheaply to leave England suffering on 37/3.
But the Aussies were denied the opportunity to continue their onslaught after lunch as the lashing Manchester rain took over, forcing both teams to sit tight in the pavilion – Australia, eager to get back out to the middle as soon as possible, whilst England were counting down the minutes in hope their day’s work was over.
It was the hosts’ wishes that were granted and with the Old Trafford pitch saddened and the rain still relentless after tea, Cook and Clarke met and agreed on the outcome many had predicted since Friday.
Clarke will be pleased with the marked improvement of his charges and indeed his own performance which was enough to earn him a very bittersweet man of the match accolade.
Nevertheless, the 32-year-old will be confident that he and his men can get even over the last two Tests and build some momentum ahead of the next series Down Under in 2014.