England retain the Ashes
England retain the Ashes

England captain Alastair Cook has expressed his delight in retaining the Ashes, with two matches to spare.

The hosts got some help from the Manchester rain on the final day of the third Test at Old Trafford to manage a draw against archrivals Australia. The result has placed the holders 2-0 up in the series, with two Tests still remaining; the quickest they have retained the urn since 1905.

"It's a great feeling, a strange feeling. It's been a strange day for the lads but we've retained it after three games, played good cricket in the first two, fought hard and had a little bit of a luck today with the weather. It's nice to retain the Ashes. It's been a really good series. To be in this position after three Tests is very pleasing," Cook pointed out.

"Australia played well, put us under pressure getting 500 but we responded well with the wicket getting harder. We fought hard. It was a bit of an anti-climax today, but we had to fight hard in that first innings and the lads batted well to bat for those 140 overs. The first job's done to retain the Ashes, the next is to win the series," he added.

After conceding a first-innings lead of 159 to the Aussies, England were set a target of 332 when Michael Clarke declared his side's second innings on 172-7 before play began on day five. The home side needed to bat out the day to earn the draw. However, they slumped to 37-3 but rain made sure only three balls were possible after lunch.

Clarke has expressed his disappointment in losing the Ashes this way but pledged they would try their best to draw the series 2-2, by winning the next two matches. The Australian skipper hailed his team for coming back strongly, after suffering a massive 347-run defeat at Lord's in the second Test.

"It's obviously very disappointing. The Australian boys deserve credit for the way we played after Lord's. The plan was to declare and have 25 overs last night and that would have given us the whole day today and if we'd bowled like we did today it would have been plenty of time," Clarke stressed.

"You look at both Tests and we were in positions to win if we'd batted well but it's a tough game and they deserved to win the first two. The goal is to try to level the series and if we play like this there's no reason why we can't do that. I'm confident with the people we have working on our bowlers that we'll get them up for the next Test," he added.