Hello everybody and welcome to live OBO coverage of day three of the fourth Test from Old Trafford.
Not for the first time this summer the day begins with players and staff craning their necks and studying the sky, wondering when play might begin and how many overs might be possible. This is a very Manchester day. The clouds are gunmetal grey and hanging patiently, like an insistent parent holding a damp flannel in the direction of a toddler’s mucky face.
England won’t mind if time is taken out of the Test. Surely they are in no position to contemplate winning, regardless how vivid the memory remains of Ben Stokes’s heroics at Headingley. After two days of sub-optimal bowling and fielding, and ten overs of predictably questionable batting, England will do well to leave Lancashire with the Ashes alive.
If they don’t it will be largely down to Steve Smith. Once again the Australian elevated his craft to levels not seen for 70 years. This is his series, and we are lucky to be around to witness greatness. But cricket being cricket, somehow he may still yet fly home without the urn.