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Live Reporting

By Matthew Henry and Jack Skelton

All times stated are UK

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  1. Farewell

    A reminder that play will start at the earlier time of 23:00 GMT on Friday. We'll be live from 22:30 GMT and TMS is on air 15 minutes after.

    Can England force victory on day five in Melbourne? Or will Australia bat out for a draw?

    Join us later to find out.

    Cheers!

  2. Post update

    That's nearly that for this live text. Cheers to all who stuck with us despite the rain on day four.

    Stephan Shemilt's full report of the day is here.

    Coach Trevor Bayliss denying suggestions England tampered with the ball is here.

    There are also Test Match Special highlights from day four at the MCG over on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra right now.

  3. Post update

    The match referee has said there are no reports of ball tampering.

    Both sides have been spoken to about deliberately throwing the ball in on the bounce to try and scuff it up quicker with the aim of inducing reverse swing.

  4. Post update

    Graeme Swann

    Ex-England spinner on BBC Test Match Special

    It is ridiculous. It has annoyed me. The people who are making the story should know better. How you can use the back of your nail to push a bit of leather down on the shiny side and be accused of ball tampering is beyond me.

    It is because it is a slow news day and England are in a strong position.

  5. 'Nothing to be concerned about'

    England coach Trevor Bayliss, speaking to Test Match Special: "I saw some headlines about ball tampering, which is a complete beat-up.

    "I went to the umpires and there is no problem from their point of view. You are allowed to clean the ball and they don’t see any problem whatsoever.

    "I spoke to Kumar Dharmasena and he said to me that with a bit of rain out there there was some mud on the ball and you are allowed to clean the ball. He said that is fine just do it in front of me which he (Anderson) was.

    "It is a little bit more 'pommie bashing'. We knew we were going to get that when we came here. There is nothing to be concerned about.

    "The umpires are more than happy our guys have absolutely no malice in it whatsoever."

    James Anderson
  6. Post update

    Stephan Shemilt

    BBC Sport in Melbourne

    England's efforts to get the ball to move through the air often involved fielders throwing it into the turf in a bid to rough one side up.

    With their tactics clear, TV pictures zoomed in on James Anderson when he was working on the quarter-seam.

    Local media accused England's all-time leading wicket-taker of tampering, although there was no suggestion that the umpires were unhappy with his actions and the ball was not changed.

    Indeed, the TV pictures were by no means evidence of tampering.

    Anderson was using his left thumb on the shiny side - in theory, the wrong side to alter if you are looking for reverse swing - and could have been cleaning the ball, smoothing it, or removing something that had come loose.

    Chris Woakes hands Joe Root the ball
  7. Post update

    So only 103 runs and three wickets (one England, two Australia) on day four.

    But a day at the Ashes is never without intrigue and controversy.

    Today's? Accusations - or perhaps more accurately, insinuations - that England's treatment of the ball has been untoward.

  8. Post update

    BBC Test Match Special

    Due to the rain delays on day four, play will start 30 minutes early on day five, with the first ball set to be bowled at 23:00 GMT on Friday.

    Test Match Special will be on air from 22:45 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW as well as the BBC Sport website and app.

  9. Post update

    Michael Vaughan

    Ex-England captain on BBC Test Match Special

    England have all the cards going into the last day but they will have to take every opportunity.

  10. What you've missed...

    James Anderson and David Warner

    ...not much cricket, sadly. Rain has ended proceedings early on day four at the MCG.

    Australia are 103-2, still trailing England by 61 runs, with David Warner 40 not out and skipper Steve Smith on 25 not out.

    Cameron Bancroft chopped on to Chris Woakes for 27, while Usman Khawaja edged James Anderons behind for 11, leaving the hosts 65-2.

    But Warner, Smith and the rain have frustrated England since. The Aussie pair have looked to occupy the crease, rather than scoring, with the first rain arriving not long after lunch.

    That was a 30-minute delay, but the rain returned at around 04:00 GMT, got heavier and the players were never able to get back out on the field.

    Earlier, Anderson was out to the first ball of the day, leaving Alastair Cook unbeaten on a superb 244, with England all out for 491, a first-innings lead of 164.

  11. 'We need to bat for a draw'

    Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh: "We are in a reasonable position. We have got a big day ahead and we have to bat pretty much all of the overs tomorrow. Hopefully we can come out with a draw."

    On the 'ball-tampering' discussions, Marsh said: "There has been no chat in our changing room. It was about getting on with the job and as batsman knowing our game plans to bat against a reverse swinging ball.

    "I saw a little bit of the footage but I don't pay attention when I am close to batting.

    "There was a big carrot for us to go 4-0 up in this match. England have played really well in this game and the job is now for us bat out for a draw."

  12. 'We still have a chance to win'

    More from Trevor Bayliss on TMS: "We would have liked to get out there but that’s the game. We still have a chance tomorrow. It is still a very good fifth-day wicket but we took six or seven quick wickets in the first innings. It is possible to do it again.

    "The two best Australian batters are at the crease hopefully we can get them early and put pressure on the rest of their batting line-up."

  13. Post update

  14. Post update

    Michael Vaughan

    Ex-England captain on BBC Test Match Special

    England might have to be braver with their field positions tomorrow to get Warner playing a shot through the off-side.

    They were pretty good, disciplined, bowled a lot of dots but if you look at a lot of the dismissals they have come from playing forceful strokes.

    Joe Root might have to open up areas to try and make the Australian players play forceful shots.

  15. 'Umpires have no problem' with treatment of ball

    James Anderson and Joe Root inspect the ball

    England coach Trevor Bayliss on BT Sport: "As soon as I did see [headlines about ball tampering in Australian media], I went to see the umpires. The umpires have got absolutely no problem with it at all. There's no problem at all, they said."

    On James Anderson: "He's cleaning the ball. If he was doing anything wrong, it's the wrong side because that's the shiny side.

    "We've had a good couple of days and there hasn't been too much positive press from their point of view. It's a bit of pommie-bashing. You've got to laugh it off and put up with it."

    On the tactics to rough the ball up by throwing it into the pitch: "It has been both teams and it's no different to any other team in the world. All teams around the world do their best to get it reverse as quick as possible."

  16. Post update

    So that's what went on in the actual cricket, but there is also a bit of a palaver in the Australian media over England's treatment of the ball today.

    There is a photo doing the rounds of James Anderson pressing his thumb into the shiny side of the ball - not the side England would really want to be messing with when they're looking for it to swing.

    Stuart Broad then also tries to smooth down or brush something off the surface of the ball while talking to the umpires about its condition.

    England have been warned about deliberately throwing the ball in on the bounce to try and scuff it up and induce reverse swing - Australia have also been spoken to about doing it in this Test.

    But the match referee says there has been no report of ball tampering.

    England talk to umpires
  17. Post update

    Michael Vaughan

    Ex-England captain on BBC Test Match Special

    It will be down to the four quicks.

    If we get 98 overs England might be in for a 100-run chase at the end of the day in 20 overs. It is going to be a nipper.

  18. Post update

    After the delays today, play will start half an hour early on day five at 23:00 GMT.

    Our man in Melbourne Stephan Shemilt's report of a curtailed day four is here.

  19. Post update

    Graeme Swann

    Ex-England spinner on BBC Test Match Special

    There is a lot of cricket still to play. I will back England for the win. If there is any rain then it is draw.

    It is all to do with ball and reverse swing. I would like to see Moeen Ali get a couple of wickets for his confidence.

    Moeen Ali
  20. What you've missed...

    Rain has brought an early end to day four at the MCG, with Australia on 103-2, trailing England by 61 runs.

    James Anderson was out to the first ball of the day, ensuring Alastair Cook carried his bat in a sublime unbeaten 244.

    So England all out for 491, a lead of 164, and the Aussies started well in response, before Cameron Bancroft chopped on to Chris Woakes and Anderson had Usman Khawaja caught behind.

    Australia were then 65-2 but David Warner and Steve Smith have frustrated England since, scoring infrequently and blocking some tight England bowling.

    After an earlier delay of 30 minutes post lunch, the drizzle returned at 04:00 GMT and got heavier, with no play possible since then.

    James Anderson