What the papers say: Ashes retained

Australia use the weather as a scapegoat, England might have done the rest of their Ashes campaign a disservice, David Warner is back in the good books, but Shane Watson continues to test patience and loyalty.

<b>Paul Hayward, in The Telegraph, is quick to take the gloss off England's success by remind all and sundry of their captain's inadequacies:</b> 'For all his admirable qualities, Cook has yet to nail the captain's role against Australia, when the need to win is so pronounced – and the opposition so hostile – that the brain is bound to freeze at first. The captain's frivolous review of a clear lbw off Ryan Harris when he was still on nought in England's rocky second innings was the clearest sign yet that responsibility is weighing on him heavily. Cook must have known he was out. So must Joe Root at the non-striker's end.

'But the leader still subjected himself to the ignominy of throwing away a review for purposes unknown. Vanity? He is not that type. To waste time? Surely England were not so desperate that they needed to burn five minutes? The simplest explanation is that Cook was in the mental vortex known to everyone who has worn the general's tunic in Ashes cricket. The message it sent to the England dressing room was that Australia had broken through Cook's psychological defences. What followed raised doubts about England's preparations for this final day.'

<b>The Daily Mail's Martin Samuel believes Australia might be using Manchester's inclement weather as a scapegoat, evidenced in their poor handling of Joe Root:</b> 'This has been a far from convincing performance from the hosts, who would have been soundly beaten by a better team such as South Africa, and have struggled, particularly with the bat. Yet the opening two overs of the morning showed why Australia are not quite as unfortunate as many would like to imagine.

'Needing to take 10 wickets in what was already truncated play, the first three balls of the day from Ryan Harris were leaves by Cook, and all six balls of Mitchell Starc's first over to Root went untouched. This was an England team under pressure, and a young opening batsman thrust into the most stressful circumstances. He had to be made to play. As much as Australia sent a shiver up English spines by the end of that 90 minutes – the highlight of the day as it proved – the first flurry of punches didn't land a glove.'

<b>Writing for The Independent, James Lawton is grateful a series rich in arch-rivalry has recaptured its essence – thanks largely to Australia's fight:</b> 'The Aussies, and the Ashes, are alive again and beyond the barricades of extreme patriotism this is surely a matter for celebration. Yes, we know England are now sure to get their hands on the little urn for a third straight series but that was hardly the issue after the slaughter they inflicted at Lord's. The question was whether the men in the green caps could rescue a modicum of pride from the wreckage of that disaster. Now we know the resounding answer. Australia go to Durham later this week and then The Oval a re-formed fighting unit.

'They outplayed England at every phase of the third Test and even though they cannot win the current series they can lay down the most formidable markers for the resumed action Down Under later this year. Michael Clarke came to Old Trafford with the forlorn distinction of being regarded as Australia's only authentic Test player. He left it exasperated by the climate of England and the dilatory approach of its cricketers, but with some massive encouragement – for the future not only of his career as one of the world's best batsmen but a captaincy that a few days ago was being defined as the last word in futility.'

<b>David Warner is back in the good books, those of The Guardian's Aaron Timms, at least:</b> To describe Warner as a bogan misses the point. He's so Jurassic, so unreconstructed, in his boganitude that he effectively predates bogan. He's the neanderthal to the bogan's homo sapiens. To be exact, he's more like a bevan, the sole survivor of a forgotten species of ocker that bestrode Australia unchallenged before being eclipsed by the superior bogan race.

'And sure, he's still a goatee short of the full Ponting, but he's a trier; Australian cricket could do with more players like him. Old Trafford, then, was no more than the hint of a green shoot. One draw, no matter how impressive or loaded with moral triumph, will not be enough to erase the memories of the last few weeks, which have seen Australian supporters suffer the extended torture of repeated slow-motion vision of England players in celebration.'

<b>The Sydney Morning Herald's Malcolm Knox is probably the collective voice of the nation, as fans and foes alike grow increasingly impatient with Shane Watson's shortfalls:</b> 'Watson had his chance. The beginning of this series was laid out for him, to see if giving him his head would bring a smile to his face. At Trent Bridge and Lord's, he had the best of the batting conditions but could not capitalise. Instead, his only grins have been the rueful kind.

'When Stuart Broad brought down hell and damnation in Nottingham, and when Kevin Pietersen held off the Australian charge in Manchester, Watson's face cracked and a grin came out, as if only gallows humour could make him happy. No person can help the way they look, and Watson's lugubriousness may imply nothing about the spirit and personality within. But this is an Australian team making an effort to be cheerful. They slap bums like a tom-tom band and gather to shake hands at the end of each day. They are trying to celebrate each other's success. If there were an Ashes of determined conviviality, they would be 3-0 up.'

<b>England's toughest Test is still to come, insists Ian Botham in the Daily Mirror. Botham also took it upon himself to make Cook and Jonathan Trott's respective slumps in form official:</b> 'Alastair Cook will know that the third Test was a tough examination that his team only just passed with the help of the weather. They have a resit in Durham, starting on Friday, and will need to go up a level because Australia jumped about four to give them the hurry-up in Manchester. There were three reasons why Australia did so much better: Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.

'We all know what an incredible talent Clarke is and he showed in this game just what he is capable of with a bat. England need to watch out, because once he is in form he usually cashes in. The captain and Jonathan Trott could both do with a score, but I'm confident they will come good this series – they are quality players who don't go hungry for runs for too long.'