London: The fourth day of the final Ashes Test was washed out without a ball bowled, all but assuring a 3-0 series win for England.
Having poured down at The Oval overnight, rain was present at the scheduled start time and did not let up for any significant period with a final heavy shower leading to an abandonment of the day’s play.
With England 247 for four in their first innings — responding to Australia’s 492 for nine declared — and mixed weather forecast again on the final day, the prospects of a result are virtually nil.
That would be a source of frustration to the visitors, who would have welcomed the chance to press for a first win in nine Tests, but will barely bother England.
For them, avoiding a single defeat in an Ashes series for the first time since 1977 is a handy enough prize.
Indeed, the only obvious incentive to play on Sunday — and the saturated outfield may prove problematic to that even if the skies hold — lies with Ian Bell.
He has three centuries in the series and, with 29 not out to his name, the prospect of pushing for a fourth must hold significant allure.
England coach Graham Gooch defended England’s approach on a turgid day three, with the rain on Saturday sending the game towards an inevitable draw.
“You go out there and do the best you can every day and at the end of the series, if you are in front, then you have played some decent cricket obviously,” he said.
“The game doesn’t always go the way you would like it to when you’re in your team meetings and you plan what you want to do.
“The Australian fast bowlers have bowled exceptionally in the last two or three Tests and have really put our top order under pressure, so credit to them. You can’t play the ideal game every day. We are the ones with three Test wins and they are the ones with nil Test wins.”