Fourth Investec Ashes Test: Dismal Australia hand England 3-0 lead

Image courtesy of: The Times

Broad’s 11 wickets left Australia down for the count

After England retained the Ashes in less than impressive circumstances, with rain virtually wiping out the final day of the third Test to end it as a draw, more salt was rubbed in Australia’s wounds as they faltered in their chase of 299 to hand England an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.

England batsman Ian Bell scored his third century of the series and it proved to be a match-saving one as well.

However, Stuart Broad deserves just as much of the limelight as Bell does for his 11 wickets in the match, with five coming in the first innings and six in the second.

England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and elected to bat first due to the dry wicket and the sun starting to emerge from the clouds.

His decision backfired early on into England’s innings as his opening partner Joe Root was caught behind off the bowling of Shane Watson.

A 73-run partnership between Jonathan Trott and Cook soon stabilised the innings, but it was only a matter of time before disaster struck, and unfortunately for Trott, it came at worst possible time as he was dismissed on 49 by spinner Nathan Lyon.

Trott’s wicket led to England’s batting line-up collapsing with Cook, who was the only batsman to pass the 50-run mark, leading the way.

Lyon was the culprit behind the collapse as he completely tore through England’s middle order, which left Ryan Harris and the rest of the pace attack to finish off the tailenders.

England were eventually bowled out for 238 thanks to some last minute heroics from Graeme Swann and James Anderson.

Lyon was the pick of Australia’s bowlers with four wickets, while Harris and Jackson Bird both snapped up two wickets apiece and Watson and Peter Siddle both chipped in with one wicket each.

With England having posted a low first innings total, Broad did everything in his power to ensure the match did not get out of hand as he took out opening batsman David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Australian skipper Michael Clarke to leave the baggy greens struggling at 49/3.

All-rounder Steven Smith soon joined the trio in the pavilion as he was caught behind off the bowling of Tim Bresnan for 17.

Just as Australia were looking extremely vulnerable, Watson and opener Chris Rogers registered a 129-run partnership, during which Rogers brought up his maiden Test century, before Watson became Broad’s fourth victim.

Watson scored 68 runs off 134 balls, which included seven boundaries.

Rogers was dismissed not long after as he edged a delivery from Swann to Matt Prior behind the stumps.

Rogers scored an impeccable 110 off 250 deliveries, which included 14 boundaries.

With Australia looking doubtful to take the lead, Harris ensured that they did with a brilliant little cameo of 28 off 33 balls, which included five boundaries.

Australia ended up being bowled out for 270, giving them a slim lead of 32 runs.

Broad recorded his ninth five-wicket haul, while Swann and Anderson both claimed two wickets apiece and Bresnan chipped in with one wicket as well.

With Australia holding on to a slender lead, Harris dismissed Cook, Root and Trott in quick succession to leave England in deep trouble at 49/3.

A match-saving 106-run partnership between Kevin Pietersen and Bell helped steady the ship before Pietersen was dismissed for 44 off 84 balls, which included six boundaries.

Bell continued to keep the runs flowing and together with Jonny Bairstow, the pair racked up a 66-run partnership, during which Bell registered his 20th Test century before Bairstow was dismissed by Lyon for 28.

Bell followed soon after he was cleaned bowled by Harris for 113 off 210 balls, which included 11 boundaries.

England managed to record 330 runs before being bowled out thanks to an impressive 45 from Bresnan, which came off 90 deliveries and included six boundaries.

Harris wreaked havoc amongst the England batsmen as he took seven wickets, while Lyon picked up the other three.

Chasing a relatively straightforward target of 299 to win, Australia made an outstanding start as their opening pair of Rogers and Warner recorded a 109-run partnership, during which Warner scored a brilliant half-century, before Rogers was dismissed by Swann for 49.

Rogers’ wicket sparked a domino effect to occur as the entire Australian middle and lower order was cleaned up by Broad.

Warner was the only batsman to post a decent score as he made 71 off 113 balls, which included 10 boundaries and a six.

Despite some late entertainment from Siddle and Harris, Australia were bowled out for 224 and lost the game by 74 runs.

Broad’s six wickets proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Australia, but the 27-year-old received some great support from Bresnan and Swann, both of whom took two wickets apiece.

Despite being unable to chase a fairly simple target, Clarke still believed Australia had a lot of positive moments throughout the match.

“At the end of the day to only lose by 74 runs, we can take positives but our middle order wasn’t good enough today,” he said. “Clusters of wickets happen unfortunately. In the first innings we couldn’t capitalise either. But Chris Rogers and Davey Warner played really well today. They might have found it easy but we certainly didn’t in the middle. Ryan Harris was outstanding too. We’ve still got a lot to play for, The Oval’s very important and we’ll look to improve there.”

Meanwhile, Cook was ecstatic about adding his name on to the list of England captains to have led their side to victory over the Australians in the Ashes and praised his whole team for a job well done.

“That noise in that last session was fantastic,” he said. “The support we get on around the world is superb and we thank all our supporters. It was a fantastic wicket to play on. It was a great spell from Broad, words don’t do it justice. The character and skills to turn it around after tea. We talk about bowling in partnerships and Bresnan banging away going at one an over was very important. Broad gets on those runs time and time again and when he gets it right he’s very hard to play. Ian Bell played another oustanding innings, he’s in great form and great to watch and has had a fantastic series.”

Broad edged out Bell for the Man of the Match award as his 11 wickets was deemed to be the bigger game-changer than Bell’s sparkling century in the second innings.

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