• England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, 4th day

Rogers falls after England resist

The Report by Daniel Brettig
August 4, 2013
Australia 527 for 7 dec and 24 for 1 (Warner 12*, Khawaja 0*) lead England 368 (Pietersen 113, Cook 62, Bell 60, Siddle 4-63, Starc 3-76) by 183 runs
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Matt Prior helped England avert the follow-on, and frustrated Australia for over an hour © Getty Images

England greatly reduced Australia's chances of forcing the victory they need to keep the Ashes series alive with doughty lower-order batting on the fourth morning of the Old Trafford Test. Matt Prior and Stuart Broad put together a critical stand of 58 that averted the follow-on, before the last man James Anderson aided England's wicketkeeper in another pesky union that pared the tourists' lead to 159.

Opening with a promoted David Warner, Chris Rogers was out to Broad before lunch, essaying the sort of limited-overs shot that Australia must resort to in the afternoon. Rain is predicted to interrupt the remaining five sessions of the match, leaving Australia with limited time in which to pursue a result. Consequently, Prior and Broad's contributions are likely to have a significant bearing on the final outcome.

Michael Clarke's bowlers were not guilty of much other than a little flatness after their Saturday exertions, and Peter Siddle earned his four wickets. But the batsmen must now assert themselves to build the lead in a rapid fashion, against England bowlers who know a couple more firm sessions may be enough to secure the urn.

Watson's absence at the top of the order reflected his lack of batting confidence in the first innings, and also allowed Warner the chance to make a decent contribution to the match after his brief and less than illustrious visit to the middle on the second day. Rogers appeared fluent again but sacrificed his wicket to an attempted ODI dab towards third man, resulting only in an edge off Broad, well held by Prior.

That pair had resumed with a simple goal - avoid the follow-on and then let a bleak weather forecast conspire with them to thwart Australia. Clarke opened with a weary-looking Ryan Harris, his usual vim sapped by the previous day. Prior and Broad seemed wise to this and attacked, while at the other end Broad kept Nathan Lyon out.

Runs accrued quickly, to a combination of decent shots and fortunate edges, the vacant third-slip region getting particular attention. Australia's lead was quickly diminished, and with a slashing Broad drive off Harris the follow-on was saved. Now sensing his primary task had been achieved, Broad had no qualms about turning on his heels to the pavilion after Lyon procured the thinnest of edges through to Brad Haddin.

Prior continued to attack and was dropped at shortish midwicket by a lunging Steve Smith off Lyon. Graeme Swann did not last long, and also walked after doing well to inside-edge a searing delivery in Siddle's first over of the morning, but Prior and Anderson then did their best to prolong England's innings and thus reduce the time available for Australia to force a result.

This resulted in some curious shot choices and equally odd field settings, the crowd growing restless as Prior farmed the strike and Anderson looked safe enough against the few deliveries he did have to face. Drinks arrived after 67 runs had been added for the loss of two wickets - a ledger most favourable to England. Prior did not last too much longer, skying Siddle to hand him a deserved fourth wicket, but there was little doubt which side was happier with the morning's cricket.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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