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The Ashes: England’s charge comes too late as rain ensures Australia seal urn without blockbuster finale


ow long did the hope last? By generous estimate, about 60 seconds. That is all the weather gods allowed between the sole announcement of a confirmed start time pending no further rain here on the final day of the Fourth Test and the return of that exact spectre to the feast.

Jonny Bairstow, by then going through his keeping drills on the practice wicket, ploughed on, the Old Trafford ground staff hovering nervously with the covers like a restaurant waiter wary of interrupting a heavy conversation with the offer of dessert. Soon, though, even the stubbornest of cricketers had to concede defeat.

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