London: Australia debutant James Faulkner warned England they`d be in for a "hell of a challenge" in the return Ashes `Down Under` later this year as he castigated their go-slow approach in the fifth Test at The Oval.
England, who`ve already retained the Ashes, were all but assured of a 3-0 series win after Saturday`s fourth day of the fifth and final Test at the south London ground was washed out without a ball bowled.
Friday saw England`s scoring slow to a crawl, their run-rate for the day standing at barely more than two an over.
Saturday`s washout means England will start Sunday`s final day of the series on 247 for four, still 245 behind Australia`s first innings 492 for nine declared but needing just 46 more runs to avoid the follow-on.
Friday`s play was one for the purists and a throwback to the grim Ashes struggles of the 1960s.
England captain Alastair Cook set the tone with 25 off 88 balls while his opening partner, Joe Root, took 184 balls over his 68.
Meanwhile the South Africa-born duo of Jonathan Trott (40 off 134 balls) and Kevin Pietersen (50 off 133) were unable to raise the tempo even though, before the match started, England had promised they`d go all out for a victory that would see them win four Tests in a home Ashes for the first time.
"If you are three-up there is no reason you shouldn`t try to get four-nil up. That`s their choice," Tasmania quick Faulkner said Saturday.
"If you face 116 overs for 240 it is a pretty boring day."
The 23-year-old, whose maiden Test innings saw him make 23 off just 21 balls, added Friday`s capacity crowd were just as deserving of financial compensation as that going to their Saturday counterparts for the lack of any cricket at all on the fourth day.
"I know the fans get a refund for their ticket today but maybe they should get a refund for yesterday."
Meanwhile Faulkner was left lamenting how rain, which denied the tourists the chance to press for victory in the drawn third Test at Old Trafford, had again frustrated an Australia side now looking for their first win in nine Tests following a 4-0 series loss in India earlier this year.
"Any time you make close to 500 you must have batted exceptionally well," said Faulkner of an Australia first innings at The Oval featuring Shane Watson`s Test-best 176 and Steven Smith`s 138 not out -- his maiden Test century.
"We are in a good position, it`s just a shame about the rain. The third Test was another time when the weather stitched us up when we believed we would have won the Test. This is exactly like that.
"We will give it a crack tomorrow (Sunday) and see what happens," added Faulkner, with Australia needing to take an improbable 16 wickets on Sunday`s final day to secure what would be a remarkable win.
Faulkner said England`s approach at The Oval was no shock given their tactics at Old Trafford.
"It didn`t surprise me. Any time they get threatened they go into their shell and play defensive cricket.
"When they come to Australia (in November) it will be played on our terms. They will be in for a hell of a challenge."
However, England batting coach Graham Gooch said days like Friday were all part of Test cricket.
"We are not over the moon with the way we played but we are not unhappy either because it was a tough day and we didn`t get the runs we would`ve liked to," the former opener and England captain explained.
"Sometimes you score quickly and sometimes you don`t."
Ian Bell, looking to become only the fourth man after Australia`s Don Bradman and England`s Herbert Sutcliffe and Walter Hammond to score four hundreds in an Ashes series, is 29 not out, with Test debutant Chris Woakes unbeaten on 15.