Saker: Slow going due to wet ball
Bowling coach David Saker insisted England were not attempting to cynically slow the course of the fifth Ashes Test but instead fighting a losing battle against a damp ball.
With Australia's batsmen going well on the second evening England managed just 11.5 overs in an hour and four minutes - a poor rate that left some fans in the Kia Oval audibly restless.
Field changes and lengthy tactical chats appeared to contribute to the excruciating pace of proceedings, but Saker claimed that surface water from a morning downpour was affecting the state of the ball.
"When the ball got wet it limited who we could throw it to and it limited what we could do with it, which was quite tough," said Saker.
"The main issue was the ball was very wet. We couldn't deliver the ball until it was dry.
"It was extremely wet out there and that was the main crux of it."
Saker accepted it was a regrettable state of affairs, but pointedly suggested "educated" onlookers would have appreciated England's problem.
"It was (slow), but if the ball is wet there's only one team who can win and that is the batting team.
"When the bowler has a ball that is wet he can't deliver anything like what he wants to.
"All you can do is dry the ball. Most of the educated crowd would have known that and some of them wouldn't.
"It wasn't wet enough to come off but they should be changing the ball in those situations.
"It's good that we are out there playing, that's what everyone wants, but as soon as the ball becomes wet it becomes an uneven contest, so I think they should keep changing the ball until the rain goes away."
The issue provided something of a sideshow to what was another decent day for Australia.
Steve Smith celebrated his maiden Test century, making 138 not out as Australia declared on 492 for nine.
England openers Alastair Cook and Joe Root reached 32 without loss in the final hour to frustrate the tourists.
It would seem the best England can realistically hope for is a draw at this stage, but Saker suggested that victory - and a historic 4-0 success - is still a live option.
"We still believe we can win the match where we sit. We're going to go out and try to put on a big score.
"They're in a strong position and batted well for two days, but if we can bat well enoguh for long enough the game is still on.
"They're desperate to win, we're desperate to win 4-0, so both captains want a win.
"It could easily be a result. What's been really good for me in this series is that when crucial parts of games have come up we've been the better team.
"That's happened in nearly every Test match."