England went into the third Ashes test needing only a draw against a resurgent Australian side to retain the Ashes. A draw that ultimately came their way thanks to the intervention of rain Gods who ensured that very little play is possible on the final day. It was an anti-climactic end to a test match that had all the ingredients of a closely fought game.
Australia for the first time in the series won the toss and elected to bat. England went in with an unchanged squad while Australia stuck to their unconventional selection approach and dropped the in-form Phil Hughes to include David Warner. Australians lost their first wicket for 74 which was phenomenal, for current Australian standards. They lost Usman Khawaja and Chris Rogers in quick succession. Usman Khawaja was dubiously adjudged out by the third umpire which lead to a huge uproar among the cricketing circles regarding the effectiveness of decision review system. Steven Smith joined captain Micheal Clarke at 129 for 3 and they both orchestrated a partnership of 214 runs. Clarke scored a majestic 187 while Steven Smith missed on a richly deserved hundred. The Australian lower order's grit ensured a respectable score of 527.
England started off rather cautiously and by the end of day 2 crawled to 52 for 2 in 30 over. English batsmen looked off color and were kept in constant check by the opposition bowlers. Kevin Pietersen again showed his class and crafted a match saving 113. Top quality bowling meant it wasn't a usual Pietersen innings full of flamboyance and he was made to work hard for his runs. Pietersen's dismissal gave Aussies the hope to enforce the follow-on which was denied by Matt Prior and Stuart Broad who survived 18 overs of top class bowling.
Australia went into the thirds innings with a sizable lead of 159 runs. The English bowlers were on target from ball one and denied the Aussies any chance to score freely. The situation demanded Australia to bat aggressively but tight bowling and poor shot selection meant that Australia lost wickets on regular intervals and apart from David Warner and Micheal Clarke no one scored more than 30 runs. Towards the end of day 4, bad light curtailed play and provided England with the bright prospect of retaining the Ashes within 15 days. The Australians wanted to play on but the umpires felt that the conditions were dangerous for players. The weather played havoc on day 5 and only 20 overs of cricket was possible. England were all at bay at 37 for 3 after 20.3 overs when the rain Gods unleashed his wrath and swept away all Australian hopes of winning the Ashes.
Australia, who were on a record equaling losing streak has a lot to cherish in this draw, for the first time during this season Australia were able to post a convincing total and their bowlers fought till the very end. The Australian think tank was criticized for not availing the opportunity to stop England from sailing past the follow-on during the second innings.
Had Stuart Broad and Matt Prior failed to avert the follow-on the Ashes might have been up for grab. Sadly for the fans the fate of the coveted urn has been sealed prematurely for another 5 months when England travels to down under defend their title.