The Ashes: Play abandoned as England's hopes fade in rainy Melbourne

David Warner and captain Steve Smith will return on Saturday with Australia 103-2 at stumps and still 61 runs adrift of England.

Rain halts play on day four of the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne   -  Getty Images

Rain dampened the MCG and England's spirits as the wet weather forced play to be abandoned on day four of the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne.

Following much deliberation between the umpires and ground staff on a soggy MCG, play was officially washed out after 17:00 local time on Friday with the covers firmly in place.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary

A subdued David Warner (40 not out) and captain Steve Smith (25 not out) will return for the final day on Saturday with Australia 103-2 at stumps and still 61 runs adrift of England, which was on track to make some significant inroads in its quest to hit back after the host reclaimed the Ashes in Perth before rain wreaked havoc.

After an England innings inspired by Alastair Cook's record-breaking unbeaten 244 was brought to an end to leave it 491 all out – a lead of 164 – early on Friday, Chris Woakes (1-24) and James Anderson (1-20) claimed the wickets of struggling pair Cameron Bancroft (27) and Usman Khawaja (11) prior to lunch.

However, mother nature halted England with two rain delays and the third stoppage, which forced tea to be called early – washing out proceedings prematurely to the disappointment of the vocal Barmy Army, who had watched Cook make history. The England opener became the first player to carry their bat in a Test at the MCG with his sublime innings.

Australia got the remaining wicket with the first ball of the day, Anderson the man to go for a duck – Cook not out at the non-strikers' end as he walked off the ground to a standing ovation.

READ: Cook makes history with unbeaten 244 at MCG

His tally was the highest score by someone who carried their bat – an opening batsman unbeaten at the end of an innings when all 10 wickets have fallen – in a Test, surpassing the 223 set by New Zealand's Glenn Turner against West Indies in 1972.

Cook also became the first Englishman to carry their bat against Australia in 38 years, and first England player since Mike Atherton in 1996-97.

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