Prior: We still have work to do

  • Last Updated: August 5 2013, 17:39 BST

Reaction from day four of the third Ashes Test.

Prior: Won't take bad weather for granted
Prior: Won't take bad weather for granted

Matt Prior insists England will not rely on the Manchester weather to confirm the Ashes remains in their hands on the final day of the third Investec Test - but admits help from the elements would be welcome.

Bad light and then rain forced an early end to matters today - with Australia 331 runs ahead - and conditions are not expected to be any better for the final day of a game dominated by the tourists.

With England needing only a draw to retain the Ashes, after racing into a 2-0 series lead, Prior and his team-mates will welcome any further interruptions.

But with the Ashes so close in sight he has warned that England will not be lulled into thinking they need only turn up tomorrow to pick up the famous little urn.

"I would be more than happy (if it rained all day)," he said.

"If it did then great, but it was meant to start raining at one o'clock today and it didn't.

"Forecasts in England are pretty good at being wrong. It would be very dangerous for us to rely on rain or forecasts going in to tomorrow.

"We have to steel ourselves tonight and prepare going into tomorrow morning as though we are going to play a full day's Test cricket. We know what is at the end of the line."

Should England be pressed into action, with an Australian declaration at 172 for seven overnight almost certain, Prior is confident they can decide matters in the middle.

"The one thing about this England team is we have become tough to beat," he said.

"We have unfortunately been in this position a few times in the recent past.

"We'll have a lot of confidence going into tomorrow that we can save the day. It is still a very good batting wicket.

"There is the odd one that bounces and that turns but you would expect that from a good Test pitch on the fifth day.

"The key to it will be getting through the new ball. As the ball gets softer it still spins but it won't spin as quickly and it won't bounce as much.

"It becomes harder work for the seamers as well. The first session will be massive for us."

Australia captain Michael Clarke was apparently left fuming by the decision of umpires Marais Erasmus and Tony Hill to initially suspend play at 4.26pm due to bad light.

Clarke had been batting at the time, under the full glare of the Emirates Old Trafford lights, and remained locked in conversation with the umpires long after England's players left the field.

Under International Cricket Council playing regulations the umpires can take the players off the field should they feel there is a "foreseeable risk to the safety of any player or umpire".

After play was abandoned an hour later, and with 32 overs lost, Erasmus confirmed the decision to leave the field was on "safety grounds" saying that play could have only continued if England skipper Alastair Cook bowled his spinners.

With England requiring only a draw it was therefore unsurprising when Cook replaced off-spinner Graeme Swann with fast bowler Stuart Broad - and in so doing forcing the umpires to send the players off.

While that drew boos from the crowd, Prior claimed that conditions had become difficult.

"It was dark. It's up to the umpires when we come off - they control the game and we do what they say," he said.

"Certainly for two or three overs there the light had dropped."

As with most days of this series it did not pass without a decision review system controversy, although the weather - the rain set in just half and hour after the players went off - ensured any such debate was shifted to the backburner.

David Warner was reprieved on 19 when the available technology failed to detect an edge behind that Prior was certain was made.

Snicko, which is was not available to Kumar Dharmasena in the review box, agreed with Prior's assessment but Warner was allowed to bat on to the obvious dismay of the England players.

"There was disbelief because he hit it and that's why we referred it," Prior said.

"When you are that sure of it and it is still given not out it is quite frustrating. That why there was a bit of chat around.

"It's cricket at the moment.

"I've always said that I'm a big fan of DRS and it works.

"It's the way forward but once you use a review you have to get the decision right. Once it goes up to the third umpire the decision that comes back has to be the correct decision.

"Whether the technology needs to be looked at or how they use the technology I don't know.

"I think that for the players that is the biggest frustration."

Following the incident Warner went on to make 41 after being promoted to the top of the order for quick runs.

While his innings ended in ironic circumstances - a hook that was caught by Joe Root in the deep - it ensured Australia should at least declare tonight with enough runs on the board to push for victory should the rain stay away.

"At the end of the day we can't control the weather. We've put ourselves in a great position here in this game so far," he said.

"We've set it up for us to try and take the wickets and win the game. That's all we can control at the moment."


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