Warne leads Aussies despite rain

Just fourteen overs of play were possible on a rain-ravaged third day of the Third Test between England and Australia at Old Trafford.

On resuming at 4pm, following several hours’ heavy showers, Australia required 31 runs to exceed the follow-on target of 245 – four runs having been added to their overnight total after it came to light that Steve Bucknor had missed a boundary signal yesterday. Bucknor, who signalled a Simon Jones beamer as a no-ball and then proceeded to warn the Glamorgan seamer, failed to notice the ball elude England keeper Geraint Jones and reach the fine leg boundary.

The ball eluding Geraint Jones became a theme for the little play that did take place, as Warne turned his overnight 44 into an unbeaten 78*, but was highly fortunate to be reprieved twice by the Kent gloveman. Firstly, Ashley Giles found turn from the leg-stump rough to beat Warne’s wild forward advances, but the wicketkeeper was unable to gather the ball and complete what should have been a regulation stumping – before a fiercely-struck boundary brought the deficit below 200 as the rains closed in once more.

Andrew Flintoff was the unlucky bowler in the second scenario, spilling a straightforward outside edge as Warne continued to ride his luck. Australia reached 264-7 at the close of play, 180 behind an England side who will be desperate to swiftly terminate proceedings when play resumes tomorrow morning at the earlier time of 10am. Warne, meanwhile, will look to erase memories of his Test 99 and remove himself from pole position in the list of highest Test runscorers without a century.

With two days remaining, both sides will still believe they are capable of winning the match, with another finely-blanced run chase in the offing – so long as the forecasters are correct, and the Manchester rains stay away.

England 444
Michael Vaughan 166, Marcus Trescothick 63
Shane Warne 4-99, Brett Lee 4-100

Australia 264-7
Shane Warne 78*, Matthew Hayden 34
Simon Jones 3-43, Ashley Giles 3-93

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