Australia captain Pat Cummins insists his side’s ambition to win a Test series in England remains undimmed after they retained the Ashes in a rain-marred draw at Old Trafford.
Persistent rain meant Sunday’s final day of the fourth Test was washed out without a ball bowled as England were denied the chance of a series-levelling win in a match they had dominated.
The result ensured Australia, as the holders, kept the Ashes at 2-1 up with one match left in the series – regardless of the result of the fifth Test at The Oval starting on Thursday.
Even so, Australia will still have to avoid defeat in London if they are to secure their first Ashes series win in England since 2001.
“It is a bit of a strange one,” Cummins told reporters. “As a group, proud we have retained the Ashes but it has not been our greatest week.”
The fast bowler added: “It is a pretty similar group to 2019 when we retained [the Ashes in England in a 2-2 draw] and we came away feeling OK, but it felt a bit like we had missed what we came over to achieve.
“In some regards whatever happened today, it wouldn’t really change how we view next week – we want to win [the series].”
Australia finished on 214-5 in their second innings, 61 runs behind England’s first-innings 592, after Marnus Labuschagne kept the hosts at bay on Saturday with 111.
England restricted Test world champions Australia to 317 in their first innings before racing to 592 all out, thanks largely to Zak Crawley’s stunning 189 and an unbeaten 99 from Jonny Bairstow.
Cummins said he hadn’t “bowled very well at all” during a return of 1-129 in 23 overs – the most expensive haul of his Test career.
He also conceded England’s thrilling ‘Bazball’ batting had also made life tough for him tactically as a captain.
“We tried to throw a few plans at them and on another day they might have worked but, in all facets, we just weren’t at our best this week and they played really well,” said Cummins, who added any Australia joy at having retained the Ashes would be “muted”.
Meanwhile, England captain Ben Stokes claimed his side will be “a team people will remember” despite their failure to win the Ashes.
This was England’s first draw in 17 Tests since Stokes joined forces with coach Brendon McCullum last year to oversee a revolution in the team’s approach to red-ball cricket, with the emphasis firmly on entertaining the paying public.
“It’s a tough one to take, a tough pill to swallow,” said Stokes after a result that left England still searching for a first Ashes series win since 2015.
“But I think what we’ve managed to do has already done wonders for cricket in England. I said in the dressing room that the reward for your work isn’t what you get, it’s what you become.”
The all-rounder added: “I think what we’ve managed to become is a team that people will remember.
“As much as I would love to be an Ashes-winning captain, I want this to be a legacy team. Regardless of how the series ends up, people will always talk about us.”
England now have just a few days to regroup before The Oval finale but Stokes said: “We have to get over the disappointment and focus on that game.
“It is a massive one for us and we know 2-2 sounds a lot better than 3-1.”
© Agence France-Presse