Cricket Expert & Columnist
The Ashes: Australia need a rain-free final day, says Shane Warne
Australia need a rain-free final day to have any chance of winning the third Ashes Test, says Shane Warne.
Last Updated: 04/08/13 7:34pm
The tourists lead by 331 runs going into the fifth day at Old Trafford after reaching 172-7 in their second innings before bad light brought play to a premature end - prompting speculation of an overnight declaration. Read our day four report here.
Already 2-0 down in the five-match series, Michael Clarke's must win in Manchester to prevent England from retaining the Ashes and although Warne told Sky Cricket that a decisive result is possible he believes that a combination of rain and home resistance could well prevail.
"It's going to be hard to bowl England out because it is still a pretty good cricket wicket. [Spinner] Nathan Lyon will have to do a lot of the bowling," he reflected.
"Australia have got enough there - if the bowlers are bowling well enough - in Siddle and Harris to have a chance but I think they need a bit more than 90 overs.
"They are going to need a bit of luck and if they bowl really well and hold a few catches they've got a big chance of winning if it's dry for the whole day.
"It would be a lot easier if England are playing shots but I think England will come out as they did today and waste time and block, trying to wear down the bowlers and make it really hard for them."
Earlier England, who began the day 233 runs behind, successfully avoided the follow-on as Matt Prior (30) and Stuart Broad (32) kept Australia at bay before wicketkeeper Prior was the last man out with the score on 368.
The visitors improved their lead to 183 runs before lunch, which they reached on 24-1, but Warne felt they were still vulnerable in the afternoon session and criticised England for taking time out of the game rather than attempting to build a winning position.
"I think Australia have played some excellent cricket for the first four days of this Test and they deserve to be in this position," the legendary Australian leg-spinner reflected.
"They've batted exceptionally well and I thought they played really well today; they showed plenty of positive intent (I was a bit surprised by a few of England's tactics) to give themselves a chance. Unfortunately the rain came.
"When England came out after lunch they only had one slip and spread the field when if they'd got one or two quick wickets Australia wouldn't have been able to dictate what they wanted to do.
"In the end whatever happens, happens but I was just a little bit surprised they didn't try to make it a bit harder for Australia at that stage."
In their bid for quick second-innings runs, Australia promoted David Warner to opener in place of all-rounder Shane Watson and the left-hander - who missed the first two Tests of the series after punching England's Joe Root in a bar - responded by scoring 41 off 57 balls.
Root enjoyed a measure of revenge by catching Warner at deep mid-wicket off the bowling of Tim Bresnan (2-25) but Warne said the opener, roundly jeered by the Old Trafford crowd at the crease and in the field, had done enough to make the opening berth his.
"I just think he's suited there," said Warne. "He averages around 40 and he's made some hundreds at the top of the order; he sets the tone if he gets away.
"He's coped with the crowd stuff really well. If he stood there and took offence towards it, they'd actually get worse, so to have a smile and a laugh about it is the right way to go.
"He's so strong through the off-side if there is any width and he can play the pull shot too; he played Graeme Swann pretty well today and I thought he looked pretty good."
Watch the fifth and final day of the third Ashes Test from Old Trafford live on Sky Sports Ashes from 10am on Monday as well as the Ashes Events Centre, available online and on iPad, via the Sky Sports App.