Australia captain Pat Cummins says his side will not fully celebrate retaining the Ashes until they win the series outright after a draw at Emirates Old Trafford confirmed they will keep the urn.
The fourth Test ended in a cruel anticlimax for England after rain prevented play on day five in Manchester and denied the home side the opportunity to capitalise on three dominant days and square the series at 2-2.
The match ended with England agonisingly close to victory as Australia sat on 214-5 with England leading by 61 runs, scuppered by the bad weather which allowed only 30 overs on day four and no play on day five.
The draw means Australia will return home with no worse than a drawn series, enough to retain The Ashes on the back of victory in the previous series, and they head into the final Test at the Kia Oval with a 2-1 lead and the chance to make it 3-1 overall.
Although proud of his side’s achievement, Cummins wants to become the first Aussie captain to lead his team to outright victory on English soil since 2001, and knows they will have to be better in the fifth Test after not having their “greatest week” in Manchester.
“It is a strange one, isn’t it?” he said. “As a group we are proud of retaining the Ashes at the back of what has been not our greatest week and we know that we have a lot of work to do for the next match.
“We weren’t at our best in this match but I thought England played really well. I didn’t bowl well, I was not up to my usual standard at all. We want to win next week to win the Ashes outright.
“In our first innings we left a few runs out there and we’ve got to look back and find out what we can do differently.
“I thought Mark Wood bowled well but he bowled fantastically in Australia and we’ve got to come up with with some options to play him. I thought that Mitchell Marsh and Marnus Labuschagne played him really well yesterday.
“It was tough, frustrating. I don’t think they’ll be huge celebrations.”
Stokes: It’s tough to take but we’ll be hunting final win
England captain Ben Stokes:
England captain Ben Stokes was frustrated by the outcome given his side’s performance.
“It is a tough one to take, playing the cricket we did over the first three days, but it is all part of the journey,” he said.
“We knew what we needed to do and that played into our hands. It was another do-or-die game for us and I don’t think we could have done much more – bowling them out and then scoring 590.
“We have got one game left and we want to go out with a win and draw the series, like in 2019.”
Watch the fifth Ashes Test at The Kia Oval live on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event on Thursday July 27. Build-up starts at 10am with the first ball at 11am. Stream The Ashes and more with NOW for £21 a month.