Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England batsman Ian Bell scored an unbeaten 65 to lead his side to a convincing eight-wicket win over Australia on the third day of the third Test at Edgbaston.
The result will be a major relief for England as it not only puts them 2-1 up in the series with two games to go, but it was also the perfect reply after their disastrous 405-run thrashing in the second Test at Lord’s.
Starting off the day on 168/7, Australia wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc converted their 15-run partnership into a 64-run stand, during which Nevill brought up his half-century, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Steven Finn.
Nevill’s career-best knock of 59 came off 147 balls and included seven boundaries.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Josh Hazlewood only made 11 runs before he was caught by Joe Root at slip off the bowling of Ben Stokes.
Australia were eventually bowled out for 265, which set England a target of 121 to win, when Starc was caught by Josh Poysden, who was the substitute fielder, at cover off the bowling of Moeen Ali.
Starc’s valiant innings of 58 came off 108 deliveries and included six boundaries and a six.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Finn was easily the pick of the bowlers with six wickets, while Stokes, Ali, Stuart Broad and James Anderson chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 121 to win, England got off to a horrible start as captain Alastair Cook was clean bowled by Starc for seven runs.
Cook’s opening partner Adam Lyth fell a short while later when he was given out lbw off the bowling of Hazlewood for 12.
Lyth opted to review the decision, but replays showed that the ball was pitching in line and crashing into leg stump. This led to the third umpire upholding the original decision.
Lyth’s wicket would be Australia’s last taste of success for the rest of the match as Bell and Root finished things off with an unbeaten 73-run partnership, during which Bell brought up his half-century.
Bell finished on 65 off 90 balls, which included 10 boundaries, while Root remained undefeated on 38 off 63 deliveries, which included six boundaries and a six.
Starc and Hazlewood claimed one wicket each.
Australia skipper Michael Clarke was at a loss of words to explain his side’s poor performance throughout the match, and said: “Very hard to explain, I guess credit has to go to England, they came out and bowled really well on day one. I still would have batted first, the wicket’s deteriorating, we wanted to get deep into day four, day five. It seamed and swung throughout the game, probably the best time to bat. [Concerns about batting?] The form at No. 4 certainly concerns me, we’re playing with 10 players, so the captain needs to get off the plane. [Worried about game?] Not really, the work’s there, for me it’s about the preparation. Credit to England, they’ve got me out early.
“I think my record at five is obviously better than at four but I’ll do what’s best for the team. I think our tail did really well, Mitchell Starc batted well, I was proud of how the boys fought. I think around 180-200 would have given us a chance but England played well. You don’t want to play against a weaker team, someone else gets a chance for England, I’m sure they’ll do well. Our goal is to win the series, I still believe we can do that. We have to play well but it’s pretty simple.”
Cook was ecstatic to have taken a 2-1 lead in the series, and said: “It’s been a fantastic three days. Firstly thanks to everyone who’s turned up, we spoke about the atmosphere before and the crowd was as loud as I can remember. I don’t think the pitch was 140 all out but the way Jimmy bowled, backed up by Steve was fantastic. It’s the sort of pitch we want to play on. For Steven to do what he’s done after two years out…Sport has a way of testing you, for him to bowl as he has here, it’s great reward. We couldn’t have a happier dressing room for Finny, after all the work he’s done.
“[Bell contribution?] Class is permanent and Ian Bell is a fantastic cricketer. He’s had a tough few games, that happens when you play for a long period of time but Ian Bell is a class player. [Miss Anderson] This was an opportunity, at 1-1, to grab it and Trent Bridge will give someone else an opportunity. If the [win-loss] sequence carries on to nine I’ll be very happy but it would be nice if we didn’t do the same at Trent Bridge.”
Finn was named Man of the Match, and said: “When I dreamed about it before the game I didn’t think it would go like that. You have to trust the work you’ve done throughout the county season, then when you go out and try to get in the groove. I don’t think I’ve celebrated a wicket like that first one but I just wanted to be out there. [Spell on second afternoon] That was as good as I’ve bowled in Test match cricket. I try to appreciate every moment I have in the England shirt and the round of applause when I went down to the boundary, the crowd have been brilliant all week.
“It teaches you to enjoy the highs more, to be here and help win a Test match for England is great. [Onwards and upwards?] Let’s not speak too soon, I feel good with the ball in my hand, who knows what will happen at Trent Bridge. But I’m really happy and glad to be playing for England again.”