Australia great Glenn McGrath said England only had itself to blame for its failure to regain the Ashes after rain ensured the fourth Test at Old Trafford ended in a draw.
The whole of Sunday’s final day was washed out without a ball bowled, while 60 overs were lost to bad weather on Saturday.
A draw meant Australia, as the holder, retained the Ashes at 2-1 up in the series with just this week’s fifth and final Test at The Oval in London to play.
But with the Manchester weather notorious for interrupting Tests at Old Trafford and the forecast beyond last week’s third day dire, McGrath said England had batted on too long.
England made 592 in reply to Australia’s first-innings 317, with former fast bowler McGrath arguing home captain Ben Stokes should have declared so as to give his side more time to bowl out the tourists, who were 214-5 in their second innings when play was abandoned.
“Looking back at that declaration (decision), if they (England) had finished at lunch on day three, given themselves 10 more overs when the ball was doing a bit more, they could easily have picked up six or seven wickets,” McGrath told the BBC.
“England had the opportunity but for some reason decided to play on after lunch which, to a degree, sealed their fate.”
The host also had chances to win in the first two Tests at Edgbaston and Lord’s, only to fall 2-0 behind to world Test champion Australia.
McGrath, an Ashes series-winner in England in 2001 but a member of the losing Australia tour squad of 2005, added: “If they (England) had played truly ruthless cricket, they could be 3-0 up by now but they’re 2-1 down and the Ashes have gone.”
Australia has gone five tours without an Ashes series win in England since its 2001 success.
Michael Vaughan, England’s captain during its thrilling 2005 Ashes triumph, was keen for that sequence to be extended.
“You wouldn’t want to be the first England team to lose here since 2001, so I do think there’s a huge amount to play for down at The Oval,” he said.
“I know they’re 2-1 down but it just feels like England have been the better team. They’ve played some good stuff and dominated many parts of the Test matches.”
He added: “If Australia play the way they have in this (Old Trafford) Test then England will absolutely wipe them.”
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