England Wins Ashes Series 3-0 as Bad Light Ends Run-Chase Finale

England was denied the chance to secure its first 4-0 victory in an Ashes cricket series as bad light ensured the final Test against Australia ended in a draw.

Set a target of 227 off 44 overs for the victory at the Oval in London, the home team reached 206-5 with 24 balls left when the umpires called a halt to play at 7:36 p.m. last night. Jeers rang out from frustrated spectators, who then gathered to watch England lift the trophy after completing a 3-0 series win.

“It has been an intense time, but also a very proud time for me,” England captain Alastair Cook told reporters. “The character we have showed throughout the series, when runs needed to be scored they were scored and when wickets needed to be taken they have been taken. That is the hallmark of a good side. We are proving to be incredibly tough to beat.”

The victory margin was England’s biggest in the Ashes since a 5-1 win in 1978-79 and its best at home since a 3-0 triumph in 1977, which was the last time Australia failed to win a single match against its oldest international rival. The teams play another best-of-five contest beginning Nov. 21 in Brisbane.

The result also lifted England above India into second place in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings behind South Africa. Australia, winless in its past nine elite five-day matches, dropped below Pakistan into fifth place.

Touring captain Michael Clarke said the 3-0 scoreline didn’t reflect the gap between the teams over the five matches.

“Maybe I’m biased but I think we would have won in Manchester if it didn’t rain; we got close in Durham,” Clarke said. “There were some real positives to come out of the last three Test matches and I’m really pleased with the boys. Once we get a win up we’ll run with that momentum.”

Daring Declaration

Clarke declared Australia’s second innings on 111-6 at the tea break yesterday, setting up the chance of a result in match that lost the entire fourth day to rain. England was earlier dismissed for 377 to trail by 115 runs on the first innings.

A partnership of 64 between Cook (34) and Jonathan Trott put England on course in its run chase before Kevin Pietersen smashed 62 off 55 balls.

After Pietersen and Trott (59) were dismissed in consecutive overs, Chris Woakes and Ian Bell maintained the scoring rate. Bell’s run out on 17 allowed the umpires to consult their light meters and they decided to end the match.

Under ICC regulations, the umpires were obliged to take the players off once the light had faded to the same level it was when they had stopped play on day two last week.

“The officials sometimes have to take emotion out of the game and do their job and be consistently fair to both sides,” Cook said. “It’s disappointing to be sitting here when we felt we could have taken those runs off the last four overs, but I understand the decision and why it happened.”

Bell Tolls

Bell, named the man of the series for scoring 562 runs including three centuries, said the victory was “right up there” with England’s Ashes triumphs in 2005, 2009 and 2010-11.

“Any time you win Ashes, it ranks at the top but this is always going to be number one having scored three hundreds,” Bell added. “I am a more senior player now and I am contributing more. It’s been a tough battle and we’re all looking forward to a break from Test cricket for a while.”

The teams are scheduled to play two Twenty20 internationals on Aug. 29 and 31 before contesting a five-match one-day series starting Sept. 6.

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