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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 September 2005, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
England set sights on Ashes glory
Fifth Test, The Oval, day four:
England 373 & 34-1 v Australia 367

Andrew Flintoff

England have their sights set on a draw that would win them the Ashes series, after day four of the deciding fifth Test was ruined by bad light.

The hosts were 34-1, aiming to bat out the final day and beat Australia in a series for the first time in 18 years.

Andrew Flintoff had earlier taken 5-78, including Matthew Hayden lbw for 138, and Matthew Hoggard claimed four victims to bowl Australia out for 367.

But Shane Warne hit back, dismissing Andrew Strauss with his fourth ball.

The wicket, which came at 1410 BST, was the champion leg-spinner's 167th Ashes wicket, tying Dennis Lillee's record.

But Warne appeared set to be on a losing side in an Ashes series for the first time in his magnificent career as all but 30 minutes of the rest of the day was lost.

As a batsman, you can lose the ball through the air when it's bowled slowly in bad light
Umpire Rudi Koertzen

Batsmen Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick trooped off the field in mid afternoon to the delight of a partisan crowd happier not to watch any action than risk defeat for the home side.

Trescothick and Vaughan then survived some hairy moments in another half-hour session against Warne and Glenn McGrath, before again heading back to the pavilion.

McGrath could only bowl two overs before Australia were instructed to use spinners at both ends, left-armer Michael Clarke doing the job.

Ironically England's bowling success meant their batsmen had to spend longer at the crease than they may have wished as they aim to bat out a stalemate.

Flintoff bowled 14.2 overs unchanged from the Pavilion End either side of lunch, with a day four return of 4-30.

Hoggard finished with 4-97, with plenty of swing available in overcast conditions, light poor for batting and an onus on Australia to lift their pace.

Warne leaves the field as bad light hits
Warne took a record-equalling 167th Ashes wicket

Hayden and Clarke turned down an offer of bad light from the umpires shortly after the new ball had been unwrapped, with Damien Martyn already out.

And Clarke, on three at the time, almost had reason to regret it as Flintoff then put down a regulation chance above his head at second slip.

Hayden signalled his intention to get on with things as he took two boundaries off a single over from Hoggard, including a slog from outside off stump through mid-on.

Flintoff found just enough swing, though, to end a potentially career-saving innings, trapping the big left-hander leg-before in front of middle stump.

Wickets continued to fall - Katich and Gilcrhist also leg before to inswingers - as Flintoff and Hoggard ripped through the lower order and tail.

Warne himself was one of the quick departees, skying the ball to mid-on as Flintoff's fifth victim for a duck.

But he was soon back in the action, into the Australian attack in the fourth over of England's second innings.

And he struck almost immediately when a sharply turning delivery came off the face of Strauss's bat, off his pad for Simon Katich to take at short leg.

But there were just 11 more balls possible before umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden judged it was unfair to continue.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Matthew Hoggard



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