England 238 & 330 (Harris 7-117) beat
Australia 270 & 224 (Broad 6-50) by 74 runs
Fourth Ashes Test, Chester-le-Street
It was well after 7.30pm local time when Stuart Broad took the final Australian wicket to ensure that England won the Ashes series with a match still to play at The Oval next week.
Broad has been a class above the rest of the England bowlers on show in this match, perhaps matched only by Australia’s Ryan Harris, and returned match figures of 11 for 121.
Australia had appeared to be cruising towards their target of 299 after England’s tail had lifted their second innings total to 330. Openers David Warner and Chris Rogers put on 109 for the first-wicket, but Broad took six for 50 and Tim Bresnan chipped in with a couple as they lost their last nine wickets for 77 runs and all ten for 115.
The morning session had looked like being a bad one for England as Ian Bell and Matt Prior fell to successive Ryan Harris deliveries with the second new ball. Both were bowled as the pitch showed signs of misbehaving; the ball that bowled Bell kept low, with Prior’s bouncing more than expected and ricocheting off his body. Stuart Broad then came and went with England’s lead standing at just 243.
However, Tim Bresnan clubbed a few boundaries and Graeme Swann made the most of any balls pitched up to race to 30 off 24 balls. The two put on a crucial 42 for the ninth-wicket, with Swann then making the most of a drop by Steve Smith to add a further 13 for the last-wicket with James Anderson. Ryan Harris was a deserved pick of the Australian attack, returning career-best figures of seven for 117; just reward for a lion-hearted performance.
Australia then faced just five overs before lunch, reaching 11 without loss, before a heavy rain shower delayed proceedings by over an hour; something that would only add to the drama later on as the fading light became an issue.
Before that, though, Warner and Rogers saw off the England new ball attack, including an out-of-sorts opening burst from Anderson, and then pushed on. Rogers was dropped again by Swann at second slip and also survived a leg-before appeal from England which they reviewed but to no avail.
Warner, meanwhile, took the attack to Swann, twice advancing down the pitch to hit him for boundaries; one a handsome six over long-off. He brought up his fifty off 74 balls and, as the total passed 100, Australia began to dream and England began to panic.
All life appeared to have gone out of the surface as England arguably bowled a little too short, but finally, just prior to tea, Swann had Rogers squared up and caught by Jonathan Trott at slip for 49. Warner was then joined by Usman Khawaja and the pair continued to look relatively untroubled.
However, wickets were about to tumble. Warner feathered a beauty from Bresnan through to Prior to depart for a fluent 71; a dismissal that seemed to send shockwaves through to Australian dressing room . Michael Clarke and Steve Smith then also fell; the former bowled by a beauty from a suddenly inspired Stuart Broad and the latter chopping onto his stumps off the same bowler.
There was then a brace of slightly fortunate LBW dismissals that saw Australia use up both of their reviews in quick succession. Shane Watson and Brad Haddin were both given out by the on-field umpire, both reviewed, but both times HawkEye showed the ball to be clipping leg-stump on umpire’s call. In days gone by, it is doubtful that either would have been given out, but in the age of technology the benefit of the doubt is no longer with the batsmen.
At 181 for seven and with Australia no longer possessing a particularly strong tail, the game was as good as won for England, but the Durham weather had something to add. With play extended until 7.30pm because of the earlier rain and the extra half hour also available to England should they need it, the sun decided to pop behind the clouds and the Aleem Dar brought out the light-meter. He commanded Alastair Cook to bowl his off-spinners at both ends or they would go off.
By this time, Australia’s last-wicket pair of Jackson Bird and Peter Siddle were at the crease and they found Joe Root’s off-spin decidedly more to their liking than Broad’s hostility. The overs ticked by - we were now deep into the extra half hour - and it looked as if England might have to come back tomorrow. Fortunately, the sun re-appeared and Broad was brought back on to have the last laugh; Siddle caught by Anderson at mid-off for 23. Australia were all out for 224, and an intensely action-packed day came to an end with England victors by 74 runs.
© Cricket World 2013