England assistant coach Marcus Trescothick has warned Australia they risk being beaten mentally on day five in Manchester if Pat Cummins’ men arrive at the ground hoping for rain while chief agitator Stuart Broad claims it would be an “unjust” result if the tourists retain the Ashes because of rain.
Broad, who infamously claimed the previous series in Australia was a void series because England had to put up with biosecurity measures during the pandemic on the way to their 4-0 thumping, said they need “a bit of luck from the Manchester weather gods”.
They enter day five with rain forecast and Australia clinging on to the hope of forcing a draw at Old Trafford at 5-214, still needing another 61 runs to make England bat again in the fourth Test.
“Sitting in the changing room watching the rain fall yesterday, there was definitely a feeling it would be unjust if weather had a decisive say,” Broad wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“Brendon McCullum has come up with a phrase this week to keep us calm. We were due to play a bit of golf on Tuesday and the forecast was horrendous, but he said to me: ‘Boss, we’re too lucky to get wet’. Guess, what? There was much less rain than we thought.
“Saturday lunchtime, he was lying down doing the crossword and said: ‘Boss, we’re too lucky for it to rain all day.’ He was right again. Now we just need another window to open to complete the job on Sunday.”
Broad, who took his 600th Test wicket earlier in the Test, said winning this match would mean much more to him than his milestone.
“If we can get to 2-2 it would set up the series just as I’d hoped it would. I said I would love to go to the Oval at 2-2, and I genuinely meant it.”
With heavy rain forecast around Manchester again, England know they must first rely on the weather clearing before having any chance of staying in with a chance of winning the series.
Australia have been realistic about the fact they would be happy with rain to save them in this Test and ensure they retain the Ashes with a draw.
And while Trescothick is not surprised Australia are hoping for rain, he believes it could work to the hosts’ advantage.
“It’s a natural thing to say. When you’re trying to save the game and there’s an opportunity of rain, everyone’s going to say the same things,” the former Test opening batter said.
But he warned: “It can be a little bit dangerous.
“If you start looking for other ways than internally in your team to stop games happening, or to not lose a game, potentially it becomes a dangerous point.
“At the end of the day you have to go out and earn that victory whatever way it is.”
England are also preparing for the possibility of needing to rely on spin to win the match, after Joe Root and Moeen Ali were asked to bowl close to half the overs on Saturday due to bad light.
England staff remain adamant the quicks should have been able to continue bowling, but the concern would now be that the precedent is set for the same decision to be made on Sunday.
The change ended up working to some extent for the hosts, after Joe Root had Marnus Labuschagne caught behind for 111 – the only wicket of the day.
“We were sat on the balcony and we didn’t think it had deteriorated that much to not allow the seamers to bowl,” Trescothick said. “The umpires out in the middle deemed it was too dark and they’ve got to make that decision.
“And tomorrow, if that’s what we’re given, then that’s what we’ll take. Any opportunity that we can get out in the middle tomorrow we will be grabbing with both hands.”