The Ashes 2017-18

Rain brings relief for England as Australia get one hand on the Ashes urn on day four in Perth

Tourists lose four second-innings wickets, including one to Mitchell Starc’s ‘Ball of the summer’, as they attempt to bat out the remaining overs in the third test

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 6:06pm

Rain stopped play in the third Ashes test at the WACA in Perth as England lost four wickets in their bid to bat out the remaining overs.

The tourists will resume on day five on 132-4, 127 runs behind Australia and needing at least a draw to retain their slim hopes of retaining the Ashes, with Dawid Malan (28) and Jonny Bairstow (14) at the crease. England need to survive all of day five to avoid defeat and handing over the Ashes.

After declaring on 662-9, Australia sent England into bat and bowler Josh Hazlewood took two quick wickets to place the tourists in serious trouble.

Hazlewood (2-16) had Mark Stoneman (3) caught behind, and then grabbed a one-handed return catch to dismiss Alastair Cook (14) to remove former skipper and stretch his miserable form with the bat.

Cook, the senior batsman, has managed 83 runs in six innings, averaging 18.33.

Captain Joe Root fell for 14 as he tried to hit off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s first delivery and edged to slip Steve Smith via wicketkeeper Tim Paine’s gloves.

England were on 71 for three when rain forced an early tea break on Sunday.

When play resumed Australian bowler Mitchell Starc removed England batsman James Vince for 55 with the ball of the series.

Earlier, Australia lost three wickets after resuming the day on 549-4 but wicketkeeper Tim Paine, 41 not out, and Pat Cummins, 36 not out, continued the assault on the England bowlers with an undefeated 82-run stand for the eighth wicket to extend Australia’s lead to 240 runs.

Smith (239) and Mitchell Marsh (181) shared 301 runs for the fifth wicket to provide the backbone of Australia’s 662-9 declared which now ranks sixth highest in Ashes history, and fourth highest in Australia between the arch rivals.

Swing bowler James Anderson returned 4-116, including 2-6 in an 11-ball spell to remove Marsh and then Smith – both trapped lbw – after Australia resumed the day on 549-4.

Steve Smith hits double century as Australia take full control of third Ashes test on day three

If Australia win, England’s first innings of 403 will be the highest total for any losing side at the WACA since India made 402 and lost by 2 wickets here in December 1977.