Australia’s 2023 Ashes hopes hang in balance as they anxiously monitor the weather forecast for Day 4 of the fourth Test at Old Trafford. With the Baggy Green brigade seemingly relying on a no-result to avoid surrendering the urn, reminiscent of the 2005 series, the tension is palpable.
During the historic 2005 series, Australia’s position was far more precarious as they faced a drawn series with two matches remaining. In contrast, the current scenario is more straightforward; a rain-ruined draw would secure Australia’s retention of the Ashes for another two years.
Despite the differences in circumstances, the pressure remains high, and there is speculation about the possibility of England claiming a victory they have earned through superior performance in the first three days. Nevertheless, Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood candidly admitted that he would welcome relentless rain, as it would tilt the odds in Australia’s favour, making it easier for them to secure a draw and retain the Ashes.
“I’d be very pleased,” Hazlewood when asked about his thoughts on two days of relentless rain. “It’s obviously forecast, and forecasts can change all the time (but) rain and light plays a big part in cricket and has done forever. So it’d be great to lose a few overs here and there and make our job a little easier of hanging in there. It’s pretty obvious.
“Obviously we’re a long way behind as you can see on the scoreboard, but we’re just slowly spent the next two days trying to grab back a little bit of momentum. That (winning) is still the mindset I think of all the time when playing cricket.”
The setting itself has evolved since 2005, with the wicket block rotated and the pavilion balcony transformed into a plush corporate suite. The outcome of this year’s Ashes series will write its own history, and should Australia emerge victorious in either of the final two Tests at Old Trafford or The Oval, the narrative will change.
For now, all eyes are on the weather gods, with fans and players alike hoping that the rain comes to Australia’s rescue. While the scenario might not provide the same thrill as a hard-fought victory on the field, retaining the urn would be a reason for celebration nonetheless. Australia went to stumps at 113-4 on the third day, trailing by 162 runs in their second innings.