Officials are anticipating a lengthy delay to the start of the fifth and final NatWest Series match between England and Australia at Old Trafford.

Heavy morning rain left the outfield saturated, and the square under full cover, less than an hour before the scheduled 2pm start time. It is expected that it will take two hours to ready the pitch, even in the event of no further rain, but more bad weather has been forecast in any case.

Umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould assessed conditions, as the rain relented, and after further inspections at 3pm and 4pm it was announced a 32-overs-per-side match would begin at 5.30pm - as long as there was no further rain.

A still squelchy area just off the square, near the former Stretford end, was giving them particular cause for concern.

England have already won the series, having established an unassailable 3-0 lead after Saturday's eight-wicket win at Chester-le-Street.

A washout here would leave them fourth in the International Cricket Council's one-day international rankings.

But should they get on the pitch, and beat their world number one opponents for a fourth time in succession, Alastair Cook's team would rise to third - marginally behind South Africa.