The Ashes 2013: How the Weather Forecast Will Shape the Rest of the Fifth Test

Joe StrangeContributor IAugust 24, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23:  Joe Root of England hits out during day three of the 5th Investec Ashes Test match between England and Australia at the Kia Oval on August 23, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Saturday sees the fourth day of the fifth Ashes Test take place at The Oval as England look to round off the series in style with another victory to secure a 4-0 triumph.

Australia have endured a nightmare Ashes so far, managing just a single draw in the four previous Tests. But the visitors will be determined to regain some pride, with thoughts already turning to the winter Ashes Down Under later this year.

Either way, Saturday's weather looks like having a major say in who, if anyone, emerges from the fifth Test with their bragging rights intact.

British summers are notoriously underwhelming but, for the most part at least, this Ashes series has been blessed with sunshine and ideal playing conditions.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Saturday's weather, with rain expected to hit the South East of England.

The fifth Test is being held at The Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club, in South London. The BBC forecast predicts it will rain consistently in SE11 from 6 a.m. BST right through to 8 p.m, with heavy showers predicted to hit at 10 a.m, 12 p.m. and again at 5 p.m.

If the forecast becomes a reality, the chance of any play on day four looks almost non-existent. But how will this affect both teams heading into the final day?

If we assume that Saturday's play is completely washed out by rain, a draw looks the most likely result.

At least 90 overs would be lost if there is no play on Saturday, hugely decreasing the odds of both teams completing their second innings on Sunday. 

A draw is now as short as 1-7 with bookmakers, including Sky Bet, Paddy Power and Betfred.

In a similar situation, the wet weather came to England's rescue at Old Trafford on the final day of the third Test, helping Andy Flower's men secure a draw which was good enough to retain the Ashes.

The heavens opening all day Saturday could also force a change in tactics for both sides on the final day.

If Australia are batting on Sunday morning then they will likely attempt a more aggressive approach in a bid to get runs on the board quickly, declare and then aim to bowl England out before the close of play. A risky but necessary tactic if they are to end the series with a win.

However, if England are in bat on Sunday, chasing Australia's score to win the match, they will more likely remain patient and defensive in their play, knowing that they have no need to play recklessly. 

Although it might not be the fairytale finish to the series which home fans had hoped for, if they are not bowled out on Sunday England would secure a draw which would leave them with an unbeaten record as well as the famous urn.

Whatever happens, expect Saturday's rain to be a key talking point this weekend.