UPDATES FROM REPORTERS, COMMENTATORS & FANS...
The log is over for the day - rejoin us again on Monday.
1851: Coops, Canada, via email
All of England can sleep well tonight - it's in the bag. The Aussies won't go for it and it will be a day of all-out attack tomorrow for England.
1845: Graham Gooch, Test Match Special
I think Australia will be more aggressive when play starts on Monday. But one thing that was encouraging for England was seeing what happened when Michael Vaughan came into the attack. Now England just have to spend the evening hoping for sunshine and a completely dry day.
1842: Glenn McGrath, Australian fast bowler
The ankle's feeling good - it's aching a bit but considering what's happened I'm happy. It wasn't one of my best five-fors today but it's better than a none-for. Basically, though, I was just lucky to pick up some runs. As for my batting, I I keep telling Ricky Ponting I'm wasted at number 11 and need to move up the order. It's falling on deaf ears though at the moment.
1837: Vic Marks, Test Match Special
I'd come along tomorrow if I had a spare £10. It could be a dull day tomorrow but somehow I doubt it. Michael Vaughan could have got one, maybe two wickets. But it's not impossible that Australia could get 399 tomorrow. They score at about four an over and that could make it dangerously close.
1832: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
Billy Bowden says "that's it" and it's stumps on day four. Australia are 24 without loss having been set 423 to win. Australia need another 399 to pull off a miracle. England with the light fading had to bowl Michael Vaughan and Ashley Giles.
1829: luckyRishi, via TMS messageboards
England have batted on too long. I figure that to bowl out the Aussies they needed four complete sessions. Now they have a huge run advantage but a lesser advantage with more time would be better.
1824: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
Australia are 15-0 and Michael Vaughan is going to bowl again in the twilight. There should probably be an over from him and Ashley Giles still to go before the close of play.
1810: Vic Marks, Test Match Special
Michael Vaughan has brought on Ashley Giles, which is quite a clever ploy, particularly with the bad light. The batsmen are unlikely to be offered the light with a spinner in the attack.
1803: Neil Dalby, Leeds, via email
I wonder what the mindset of the Australian batsmen is. Do they believe they can win it?
1755: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
The light could be an issue. Some sunlight is glinting off some Mancunian office buildings in the distance. Fingers crossed that comes our way as the light is not terribly good currently at Old Trafford.
1750: compulsive_hooker, via TMS messageboards
Declared 422 ahead. I just hope bad light doesn't stop play now.
1743: Geoff Lawson, Test Match Special
I think this is a very aggressive declaration. It remains to be seen whether England can get the wickets or Australian the runs. England have taken a gamble here but one definitely worth taking.
ENGLAND DECLARE ON 280-6 - A LEAD OF 422
ENGLAND 264-5 BELL C KATICH B MCGRATH 65
1735: Paul Robinson, Manchester, via email
This is agonising. I think they need to get Australia in to bat tonight and even get a couple of wickets. But as a local with £10 in his pocket ready for a ticket when the gates open at 0830 tomorrow I am actually hoping we'll get a real nail-biter on the final day.
1731: Graham Gooch, Test Match Special
England look set to go on for one or two overs more before having a pop at Australia.
ENGLAND 248-5 FLINTOFF B MCGRATH 4
1721: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
There's a potential 98 overs tomorrow and Australia batted for just 84.5 overs in their first innings. So on that basis, England should have easily enough time to do the damage.
1714: Graham Gooch, Test Match Special
England will want to bat on for another half an hour, or even 40 minutes. They will want to get 30-40 runs to get their lead past the 400 mark. And England's bowlers will be boosted by getting the chance to have a go at Australia's openers.
1710: Brad Flynn, New Zealand, via email
Have England peaked too early? There are still two more Tests to go and I think there's a few more twists in this series to come... and I'm not talking about Glenn Mcgrath's ankle!
ENGLAND 225-4 KEVIN PIETERSEN LBW MCGRATH 0
1704: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
Andrew Strauss walks off to a standing ovation at Old Trafford. He's done just what England needed and set up the possibility of an England victory tomorrow. So out comes Kevin Pietersen. Now we'll see some shots I think.
ENGLAND 224-3 STRAUSS C MARTYN B MCGRATH 106
1701: Neil, Manchester, via email
I used to think cricket was the most boring and dull game on earth. However, since the two-run win in the second Test and the excitement in this Test even I am tempted to go and watch a game. Still doesn't beat football though! Good luck England.
1655: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
Andrew Strauss hasn't had the best of summers but in this critical phase of this third Test match, he's pushed England into a lead of 360... and possibly more. Will it be enough for England to win the match?
ANDREW STRAUSS REACHES HIS CENTURY
1644: Andrew, Mexico, via email
I've heard rumours that the whole of Australian population is doing a rain dance at the moment. It looks like that may be the only think that can save them.
1639: Christopher Martin-Jenkins, TMS The excitement on the England balcony is growing. Michael Vaughan's out there on the boundary cheering on his players. He gives the Popeye sign (a flex of his bicep) after he hits Glenn McGrath for six.
1632: Colin Grainger, Waterford, via email
The only option left to poor Jason Gillespie is for him to get his haircut and beard trimmed back to 2001 standards and give him another chance in the next match. I'm sure this will do his confidence a great deal of good and get him back to some of his old form. The matches are really exciting and wonderful to watch. I hope England can pull it off again but I fear the Aussies will dig in and save the day.
1624: Geoff Lawson, Test Match Special
There's been an epidemic of no balls in this match so far. Glenn McGrath is the latest bowler to gift England a run. Maybe the tape measure they're using for their run-ups is a few centimetres long!
1615: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
Jason Gillespie's getting a bit of support from the crowd there... well if you can call the cheers that ring out every time he stops the ball. He had a fumble earlier on that went to the boundary.
1607: Sean Andrew, Australia
The only weapon Australia has left to escape a defeat is the English weather. May it hail cricket balls.
1603: Geoff Lawson, Test Match Special
I'm watching Jason Gillespie very closely. This is the best I've seen him bowl all tour. There's far greater zest and energy and, hence, the slower ball is that much more convincing when it's used.
1601: Alan, Germany, via email
This isn't easy for Ian Bell but, with his place in the team safe, he must take risks for the greater good. An hour or so of Kevin Pietersen and/or Freddie Flintoff is what is needed now..
1558: Andrew, Mexico, via email
I agree with Graham (see 1542). I'm also in Mexico and haven't had a proper night's sleep for the last four days.
1553: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
We said earlier that maybe Kevin Pietersen would come in before Ian Ball in the batting order. But Bell's there, he's on nine and has been batting for an hour now. The crowd are still enjoying what they're seeing despite urging on the runs.
1546: Graham Gooch, Test Match Special Talk about when your luck's down. Things are not going well for Jason Gillespie and his confidence must be at a low ebb. His bowling's not up to scratch and then there was an earlier misfield which let the ball through for four.
1542: Graham Belton, Mexico, via email
I still say it is worth getting up at 0415 to listen to this fine game.
1536: Hugh Southey, via email I am already not looking forward to the fact that I need to be in Houston for the next Test. Obviously I will be able to listen to your commentary via the internet. I have a horrible feeling that I will be unable to watch anything.
1531: Christopher Martin-Jenkins
We were beginning to wonder if Jason Gillespie was ever going to bowl again. But he gets things going straight after tea.
1526: Andy, New York, via email
It's 95 degrees in New York. So the best way to beat the heat is to stay in the air conditioning, listening to England overtaking the Aussies as the best team on the planet.
1511: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
The session ends with England 128-2, Bell on eight and Strauss 57. The lead is now 270 precisely after Warne gave away nine from that last over.
1509: Stephen Worthy, Finchley
Suggestions for Mr Warne for panto (see 1342 and 1448)? The Genie-us in Aladdin. Naturally, Jason Gillespie will appear as Wishy-Washy. Of course, when Geraint Jones is behind the stumps, the script can read: "And he's caught behind you!" "Oh no he isn't..." I know, frightfully cruel - but that's showbusiness.
1500: Vic Marks, Test Match Special
Shane Warne is bowling like Monica Seles at the moment - there's a big grunt after every ball. He is revelling in the occasion. The amazing thing is he has taken four wickets and was easily Australia's top scorer with 90. It's almost a one-man show for the tourists.
1454: Grant Thompson, Taiwan
Thank goodness for Test Match Special on the internet. It's the only way I can keep up with the Ashes from tropical Taiwan. Come on England!
1448: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
I don't think Shane Warne would be a pantomime dame (see 1342). But our man Bill Frindall has done panto before. Only a village panto, though, I'm told.
1438: Dave, Bolton, via email
Don't worry about the rain - it is glorious in Bolton less than five miles from Old Trafford.
1434: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
With a great grunt, Shane Warne bowls to Ian Bell and it brings up the 100 for England. England are going at a good rate out there. They'll be working towards bowling a few overs at the end of play today.
AUSTRALIA 97-1 VAUGHAN C SUB (HODGE) B LEE 14
1424: Christopher Martin-Jenkins, TMS There's a flurry of noisy excitement because of a beach ball that finds its way onto the field. Matthew Hayden boots the ball but he fails to clear the boundary. Then Brett Lee picks it up and throws it into the crowd, much to their delight.
1417: Tony Bohan, Iraq, via email
I'm listening to Test Match Special from sunny Baghdad. It is 117 degrees here. England can win if the weather holds out in Manchester.
1411: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
We're having a brief stint of afternoon sun although there's some ugly-looking clouds up there. Thankfully, there's been no sign of rain today... yet. Billy Bowden signals for a drinks break.
1404: Jim Baudelaire, TMS messageboards
Lucky Aussies - Marcus Trescothick looked set for big runs too. Some of those fielders were whooping like they'd just won the match - shows a little desperation in their minds.
1358: Graham Gooch, Test Match Special
Glenn McGrath's intelligently going round the wicket to Andrew Strauss to give him no width at all. It should make for an interesting contest.
1348: Richard Menadue, Puerto Rico
I'm listening to the Test match on the internet in Puerto Rico - it's 90 degrees out here.
ENGLAND 64-1 TRESCOTHICK B MCGRATH 41
1342: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
Shane Warne really should do a stint of panto. It would be lovely to see him round Christmas time and who knows he could even get some tips from Ian Botham! That'd be quite a double act. Warne's latest panto moment sees him appealing with his arms outstretched. He's like a singer belting out an aria.
1335: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
There's still a lot of time left of this game as Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick click into one-day mode. England's batsmen are dominating and hoping to move into a position to bowl Australia out. Meanwhile, Ricky Ponting looks like a cow chewing the cud.
1323: Richard Williams, Japan, via email
England are playing with a belief in themselves I have not seen for 15 years. Australia seem down on confidence. As an Aussie it pains me to say this, but we are clearly witnessing an English cricket team that should reclaim the Ashes.
1315: Christopher Martin-Jenkins, TMS
There's a stiff breeze blowing across the ground now from the west. That usually portends rain but we don't want that.
1310: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
England's batsmen come down the pavilion steps. England lead by 168. Strauss had a little luck when he edged through the slips. He is on 10 and Trescothick on 12. It's time for me to have a sandwich...
1230: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
Billy Bowden says "we're going over there, fellas, it's time for lunch" with one of his traffic signals. England push their lead up to 168.
1226: Niall, England, via email
Unfortunately for England the weather is now against them. In the past it would have saved them from the situation Australia are in today. Now, it is robbing them of valuable time. However, given the series so far, anything can happen.
1220: Aorpin, TMS messageboards
This is unfortunately the type of situation in which Australia have had no equal for a long time now. But the cracks are showing, they're substantial and they're getting wider by the day. If they don't pull it off this time, their golden era is over. They've enjoyed this position for long enough. Having said that, I'm bracing myself for the next two days to be murderously tense for all England supporters.
1215: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
McGrath had the disappointment of having catches dropped as well as bowling Michael Vaughan with what was a no ball in the first innings. He'll be hoping for better this time around.
1205: Geoff Lawson, Test Match Special
The ball is not exactly leaping onto the bat. Even with the new ball the pitch looks pretty sluggish.
1156: Fiona Bates, via email
Although it pains me to bring up an observation which may be (wrongly) assumed to be a girl's only comment on a cricket match, but there are fascinating barnets out there. Glenn McGrath's mullet with leopard-skin highlights (bleach clearly applied after a few, and removed the next morning), Simon Jones' scrappy shaved head, Freddie Flintoff's little dark patch, Dizzy Gillespie's flowing locks, Warne's much-publicised "enhancements" and Kevin Pietersen.
1153: Patrick, England, via email
An hour to see off the new ball please and to steady nerves. Then some aggressive free-scoring licence for the big hitters of the side. Four sessions of bowling at Australia and give them a chance too, and exert extra pressure in that way. Don't fuss about making the game safe first.
1151: Alun, Bristol, via email
My Champagne moment. That was it for me for this Test - Dizzy Gillespie hitting a six.
1144: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
Jason Gillespie flies off the field after getting out. He has work to be done and is quickly followed by Glenn McGrath. Simon Jones then runs off to a standing ovation following his six wickets. England will be breathing a sigh of some relief. What a good effort that was from the last few Australian batsmen.
AUSTRALIA 302 ALL OUT GILLESPIE LBW JONES 26
1136: Graham Gooch, Test Match Special
The big question is can Simon Jones pick up that sixth wicket. Correctly, England are keeping with the old ball, which Jones is swinging supremely.
1130: Vic Marks, Test Match Special
It's amazing how Simon Jones has developed. He was initially a tearaway with pace and, if the ball swung, it was totally by accident. Now he's an artist. It's all clever stuff.
1122: Jim Maxwell, Test Match Special
Glenn McGrath got behind the ball like a good number five, number six batsman for his opening delivery. He looked very solid. A fine over from Simon Jones - a lot of pace.
AUSTRALIA 293-9 LEE C TRESCOTHICK B JONES 1
1116: Phil, France, via email
OK, so I got the bowler wrong in my little rhyme (see 1059), but I predicted the fielder and mode of dismissal pretty well. Now to write one about how Brett Lee gets out...
1106: Vic Marks, Test Match Special
I like the way that Michael Vaughan is such a decisive captain. He doesn't worry about insulting a bowler. He just does what he has to do.
AUSTRALIA 287-8 WARNE C GILES B JONES 90
1059: Phil, France, via email
The Australian batting god Warne
Was caught off the bowling of Vaughan.
The ball rose for miles
But was well pouched by Giles
And then big Freddie shouted "Begawn!"
1051: Pete, USA, via email
It's nearly four o'clock on a freezing morning here in Colorado. Please England give me something to cheer about.
1049: Simon James, Munich, via email
I'll be watching in an Australian pub in Munich with a friend from Darwin. He is convinced that Australia have us just where they want us now. Let's have a good day and hopefully it won't be as close as the second Test. I couldn't stand another finish like that.
1043: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
Jason Gillespie is practising his forward defensive in between deliveries. He doesn't really need to do it - after all, he plays it often enough. In fact, it's probably the only real shot in his repertoire.
1038: Chris Harrell, Thailand
It has been a fascinating series and, from an England fan, it hurts to say this but Shane Warne has been tremendous. I'm just off to the pub to watch the game and have some friendly banter with me Aussie mates. Come on England - get 'em back.
1031: Bernard, England, via email
An ode to Old Trafford:
No not that overbloated theatre of dire
But the one where cricketers aspire
The place of silky Washbrook
And Statham on fire.
Of diminutive Pilling and Big C
Of flying Jack Bond and moonlit nights
Of the clowning Farokh Engineer
And dear old Flat Jack connoisseur of the Fryer.
1025: Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special
It's clear to Michael Vaughan, who leads out his team, and everyone on their feet currently at Old Trafford as the players come onto the pitch that England must get among the wickets as quickly as possible. But if Australia manage another 100 runs this game is still well and truly alive.
1010: Justin Contegiacomo, Australia, via email
I am stood in a pub with my England shirt on surrounded by 100 Australian students. Come on boys, don't let me down!
1004: Duncan Anderson, Grimsby, via email
Our house backs onto Grimsby Rugby Club. A successful club that was boosted as one would expect by the World Cup win. Last night for the first time that I can remember in the 25 years that we have lived here the kids were playing cricket between the goal posts.
0957: Jos, Czech Republic, via email
I'm sitting at work waiting for today's play to start. This is going to be perhaps the biggest day in English cricket for a very long time...
0949: Prabudha Singh, USA, via email
England need to take wickets number eight and nine as quickly as possible today. After that we have Glenn McGrath whose batting is history. Then we will need to score quickly and give our bowlers the chance to bowl Australia out for less than 400 in the fourth innings.
0937: Pat Murphy, Radio Five Live
The prospect of play today is excellent, which makes a change from the miserable gloom of yesterday when just 14 overs were played. Shane Warne resumes on 78 not out and could get his first Test match century today. There is still a lot of cricket to play in this match and they could play until seven o'clock tonight.
0931: Mike Ives, Sydney, via email
I'm an Englishman in Sydney and follow the cricket on their free-to-air channel SBS. Last night during the coverage of the third Test at Old Trafford after Warne and Gillespie managed to avoid the follow-on the TV pundits Dean Jones and Greg Matthews stated that Warne had said to them "he would die before he let's England regain the Ashes". Can the England team get the same spirit and do the Aussies?
The Ashes is one of sport's greatest contests.
So over the course of the 2005 series, we'll be doing our best to convey all the colour and banter from the grounds by running a daily log during each of the five Tests.
You can read updates from our reporters and Test Match Special commentators, but we want you to join in too.
- Contribute to the general match debate with fellow fans by posting on our TMS message board and we'll include the best posts here.
- Use the e-mail form on the right if you have specific information which would be of interest to other readers. Otherwise, please use our message board.
- If you are lucky enough to be at the match, text any observations or things you have spotted at the ground to 81111, putting Ashes at the start of your message, and your name at the end.
(Texts will be charged at operators standard tariff)