No Ashes whitewash as Aussies bat out the draw
Another century from Steve Smith has helped Australia bat out day five and save the fourth Ashes Test against England, to preserve the home side's 3-0 lead in the series.
When the game was called off, Australia had reached 4-263, a lead of 99 over England, as the flat MCG deck, which has drawn criticism from many quarters, defeated all attempts to achieve a result.
Given the conditions and the slow pitch, this was England's best opportunity to get a win in the series, but skipper Smith produced a careful, focused, unbeaten innings of 102 to once again prove himself the master of the opposition batting.
Mitchell Marsh was with him at the end, his knock of 29 off 166 deliveries keeping England well away from the tail.
The loss of more than a session to rain on day four had made a draw appear almost inevitable, but the tourists came out seeking an early breakthrough to raise the pressure on Australia.
Smith and David Warner batted solidly for just 12 runs in the first half hour of play.
By drinks they had moved on to 2-138, within 26 runs of England, with Warner finally beginning to open up, taking eight runs off one over from debutant Tom Curran.
A rain delay kept the players off the field for less than 15 minutes, and Warner appeared locked in for back-to-back centuries until a lapse of concentration saw him fall to the part-time spin of English captain Joe Root.
Having shown a level head for 226 balls, Warner had his restraint tested once too often when Root served up a full delivery outside off stump.
The ball flew high into the Melbourne sky only for James Vince to take an easy catch at cover with Warner on 86.
Adelaide century-maker Shaun Marsh contributed just four before he was was removed by a sharp catch to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow off the bowling of Stuart Broad.
The wicket, on the last ball before lunch, fuelled the tourists' slim hopes of forcing a result even as rain threatened to rob the final day of more overs.
The Australians came out after lunch to resume on 4-178.
The English bowlers tried hard and brought a false shot from Mitchell Marsh off Broad, which dropped just in front of the fielder on the off-side, but the breakthrough did not come.
The tourists took the new ball, and kept plugging away. Marsh got off the mark from his 20th delivery faced with a solid drive for four off Broad, but otherwise the clear focus was on survival rather than shot-playing.
Smith was untroubled at one end, as the Australians got through to drinks without any loss.
Soon afterwards, Marsh nearly became the latest batsman to chop on, but the ball was deflected off the pad rather than the stumps. Dawid Malan came on in the hope of extracting a wicket, and Woakes stayed on with the hint of some reverse swing, but the English could not crash through.
James Anderson and Broad came back on but finished the session without success, and Australia went to tea with the Test all but saved, at 4-225, a lead of 57.
The final session was pretty much a procession, as Smith made his way to his third century of the series.
He reached the landmark with a single through point off Malan, for a century off 259 balls with only six fours — highlighting how his patience had overcome his normal attacking approach.
Twenty minutes later, with Australia merely playing out time, the two captains shook hands and the game was over.
Despite having the momentum for much of the Test, England failed to get on the board.
Former England skipper Alastair Cook earned man-of-the-match honours with his unbeaten innings of 244.
The tourists will now head to Sydney for the fifth and final Test starting on January 4, hoping to open their account at the SCG.