No raining on England parade

England retain the Ashes (Getty Images)
England retain the Ashes (Getty Images)
Manchester - Rain has been associated with international cricket played at Old Trafford ever since its first scheduled day of Test action was washed out in 1884.

And the local climate found some new fans as England retained the Ashes at the Manchester ground on Monday after a rain-affected draw in the third Test with Australia.

England, after just over an hour-and-a-half of playing time Monday, were in dire straits at 37 for three, having been set 332 to win, when a downpour meant no more play was possible.

The ensuing draw left Ashes-holders England with an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Ashes heading into the fourth Test in Durham, which starts on Friday.

"Many times I have cursed the rain in Manchester, but today I would take it home to meet my grandma and marry it," England off-spinner Graeme Swann tweeted, while former captain Michael Vaughan posted a picture of the Ashes urn and the caption "RAINTAINED".

Kevin Pietersen, whose first innings 113 was key to the hosts avoiding the follow-on and saw him surpass Graham Gooch, now the team's batting coach, as England's all-time leading run scorer in all international formats, told his Twitter followers: "Ashes retained.. Wow! What a feeling.. Outstanding by this team to do it in 3 Tests..

"And.. Thank you for being so nice during this Test! It was an incredibly proud moment when I found out about the record.. More runs to come!"

England great Ian Botham had forecast England would win this series and the return campaign in Australia, which starts in November, by a combined 10-0.

But he was happy to make a slight adjustment and celebrate the fact England were holding on to the Ashes for a third straight series following their 2009 and 2010/11 successes.

"Rain saves Aussies today at Old Trafford so will have to settle for 9 nil.... !! Ashes retained.....3 out of 3......!!" tweeted former all-rounder Botham, who saved many of his best performances for Australia, notably the 1981 Ashes where he turned the series England's way with several stunning displays.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron added his tribute too.

"And to think some people criticise the British weather. Congratulations to our cricketers on retaining the Ashes."

But with England's football team not having won a major trophy since lifting the 1966 World Cup on home soil, it was left to former striker turned sports broadcaster Gary Lineker, a keen cricket fan, to add a note of perspective to what was yet another in a growing list of national sporting triumphs.

"The Ashes retained in another great year for British sport. All so easy nowadays, but we can rely on good old football to keep us grounded," he tweeted.

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