Michael Clarke, batting, was apoplectic with decision to stop the match for bad light, which was roundly criticised. Rain arrived 45 minutes later saving the umpire further ignominy.

Apparently looking to set a lead of around 350 Australia attempted to up the pace after tea.

Jimmy Anderson finally took his first wicket of his home ground Test after Brad Haddin looped one high into the grey mancunian sky and found Stuart Broad at mid-off.

And the Lancashireman doubled his tally minutes later. Mitchell Starc was next in and looked utterly assured until he flicked a tame one to Swann off Anderson, at extra cover.

Many in the ground expected Clarke to declare but in came Ryan Harris as Peter Siddle was demoted to 11.

Clarke, perhaps sensing that the light was becoming an issue, and that England would almost certainly be moaning about it the second they got in, pushed-on.

The umpires met in the middle with Swann about to come on, sensing his moment Cook showed the kind of decision making only a true wimp could make and threw the ball to Stuart Broad.

Cook’s cowardly plan worked as the umpires decided Broad’s bowling would be too dangerous and took the players off.

Clarke could declare overnight, which would leave England needing a gettable but very challenging 331 in three sessions.

But given that England look to have been going for the draw since this morning, it seems unlikely Cook will do anything other than block, leave and duck, his way to retaining the Ashes, in the lamest way possible.

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