Prior does rain dance in Manchester

England

England will not rely on the Manchester weather to confirm the Ashes remains in their hands on the final day of the third Investec Test tomorrow.

England wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior conceded he would not mind if there was no play at all on day five of the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

Australia climbed to 172 for seven – and a lead of 331 – before bad light and rain brought a premature close to proceedings on day four in Manchester.

Prior, earlier, helped the hosts avoid a potential follow-on with a patient 30 in a final tally of 368 all out – built on the back of Kevin Pietersen's fine century 24 hours earlier.

"I would be more than happy (if it rained all day)," said Prior. "If it did then great, but it was meant to start raining at one o'clock on Sunday and it didn't.

"Forecasts in England are pretty good at being wrong. It would be very dangerous for us to rely on rain or forecasts going in to Monday.

"We have to steel ourselves tonight and prepare going into Monday morning as though we are going to play a full day's Test cricket. We know what is at the end of the line."

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Should England be pressed into action, with an Australian declaration at 172 for seven overnight almost assured, Prior is confident they can decide matters in the middle.

"The one thing about this England team is we have become tough to beat," added Prior. We have unfortunately been in this position a few times in the recent past.

"We'll have a lot of confidence going in, that we can save the day. It is still a very good batting wicket. There is the odd one that bounces and that turns but you would expect that from a good Test pitch on the fifth day.

"The key to it will be getting through the new ball. As the ball gets softer it still spins but it won't spin as quickly and it won't bounce as much. It becomes harder work for the seamers as well. The first session will be massive for us."

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