England regain Ashes with a test to spare

England have regained the Ashes after another comprehensive victory over Australia. All memories of the 5-0 humiliation down under were wiped clear as they managed to win in only three days for the second consecutive match. Mark Wood took the winning wicket as England took the remaining three wickets for 12 runs. England now lead 3-1 in the series heading in to the final test at the Oval.

The England players celebrate after regaining the Ashes in emphatic style.

The England players celebrate after regaining the Ashes in emphatic style.

Australia resumed on 241-7, 90 runs behind, with Adam Voges on 48 and Mitchell Starc on 0. Ben Stokes took his sixth wicket of the innings, tempting Starc in to playing, but he could only edge to Ian Bell at slip. Ben Stokes’ figures of 6-36 are his best test figures. Josh Hazlewood could not add any to the total, as Mark Wood knocked out his middle stump with a terrific delivery. A rare instance for Aussie fans to shout about occurred as Voges ran a quick single to reach his 50. Nathan Lyon brought up 250 for Australia, flicking the ball down leg side for a four. But the next ball saw Lyon’s stumps flying, as Mark Wood bowled the ball that won England the Ashes. Australia had been bowled out for 253, meaning that England won the test by an innings and 78 runs.

Nathan Lyon could do nothing as Mark Wood scattered his wickets.

Nathan Lyon could do nothing as Mark Wood scattered his wickets.

After all he has been through as captain, Alastair Cook was almost in tears at the end of the match, showing how much this Ashes victory, and the manner of it, meant to him. In contrast, Aussie skipper Michael Clarke announced that “it was the right time” for him to announce his retirement from test cricket after the final test at the Oval.

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Bell leads England to emphatic win

Ian Bell led the way as England beat Australia in under three days at Edgbaston. In one of the most rollercoaster Ashes series in recent years, the hosts now lead 2-1 after an 8 wicket victory in the third test. Peter Nevill and Mitchell Starc gave Australia a glimmer of hope, both making fifties, but the target of 121 was too low for the bowlers to stand any chance.

Ian Bell's went on to make 65 not out after being dropped on 20

Ian Bell’s went on to make 65 not out after being dropped on 20

Australia’s batmen came out with no pressure on them, and it showed. Peter Nevill brought up his fifty as he and Mitchell Starc found the boundary five times in the first four overs. But Nevill was given a let off, as he gloved the ball behind, with Buttler taking an impressive catch, but the umpire gave him not out. Replays showed that Nevill would have been given out if England had any reviews remaining. Starc and Nevill’s partnership passed 50 before Nevill was caught for 59 in an almost carbon copy of his earlier let-off.

Mitchell Starc continued the resistance bringing up his 50 with a six, which also put Australia 100 ahead. Josh Hazlewood added 11 before Joe Root dived high to take a superb catch at slip. Mitchell Starc’s was eventually dismissed as he chipped straight to England’s substitute fielder, on for Jimmy Anderson. It ended an impressive innings of 58 which had given the Aussie bowlers something to play for. Australia were saved by their mid-to-lower order, who recovered to finish on 265, giving England a target of 121 to win.

England would have wanted to try to reach their total with minimal damage, and openers Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth needed runs to end their poor form. However Cook fell early on for 7, clean bowled by Starc. With the score at just 11-1, there was a chance of a few nerves creeping in amongst the England team, but Ian Bell showed that was not the case. The Warwickshire man seemed to be on a mission to win the match by himself, punishing the Aussie bowlers with 20 from his first nine balls. Australia captain Michael Clarke dropped Bell on 20, putting down a straightforward catch at slip. Fittingly, Bell brought up England’s 50 with a four. Adam Lyth’s place in the team may be under consideration, as he went lbw to Hazlewood for 12.

Mitchell Starc shamed Australia's top order with a fine half century

Mitchell Starc shamed Australia’s top order with a fine half century

Bell brought up his second 50 of the match by hitting a four on the off side. Joe Root also looked in a hurry to win the game, hitting 6 fours and a six to contribute to their partnership of 73. England were able to reach their target without further damage before a delayed tea, as Joe Root flicked the ball over a close field for four.

England’s emphatic win was the perfect response to their disgraceful showing at Lord’s, with Steven Finn’s 8 wickets a particular highlight. Jimmy Anderson’s injury will rule him out of the fourth test, and presumable Mark Wood will come back in to the team after just missing out on this test.

England in control despite wobble

England have two days to bowl out Australia, after setting them a target of 412 to win the first test. Despite this level of control, they did suffer a wobble, losing three wickets for just nine runs, giving Australia a slither of hope of taking the first test. Despite the mini-capitulation, Australia still require the third highest successful run chase in Test history to take the win, so only a shocking bowling display or rain should prevent an England victory.

England celebrate dismissing the Aussies for 308

England celebrate dismissing the Aussies for 308

Australia resumed on 264-5. England did get the early breakthrough, as Shane Watson was dismissed lbw by Stuart Broad. Nathan Lyon, who had been sent in as night watchman, fell in the next over, lbw to Mark Wood. Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin put up a mini-stand of 34, hitting seven fours between them. The final three wickets fell for just four runs, as Haddin (22) and Starc (0) fell to Anderson, either side of Mitchell Johnson (14) chipping straight to Gary Ballance off of Broad. Australia lose last five wickets for 43 runs, finishing on 308, 126 runs behind. Anderson stood out from the English bowlers, finishing 3-43, with Broad, Wood and Ali all taking two wickets each.

Alastair Cook fell just before lunch for a disappointing 12, with Nathan Lyon taking a low catch. Gary Ballance fell just after lunch, caught behind off of Hazleworth for a duck, leaving England 22-2. Ian Bell began strongly, reminding his doubters of the form he showed in the last Ashes series at home. Adam Lyth hit the day’s first six, but just after a Bell single brought up the 50 partnership Lyth was dismissed for 37. Nathan Lyon was the man who took the wicket, with Lyth edging to a diving Clarke at slip.

Ian Bell brought up his 50 with a four before tea, with England going into the break on 160-3. But Bell fell for 60 soon after tea, bowled by Mitchell Johnson for his first wicket after a dismal first innings. Joe Root was also scoring freely, and brought up his fifty with a four, his twelfth 50 in his last 18 test matches. Josh Hazlewood ended Root’s hopes of a second consecutive century, bowling the Yorkshire man for 60.

England’s capitulation began as Jos Buttler gifted Australia his wicket for only 7, with Haddin catching his attempt a a reverse sweep. Ben Stokes was the next to fall, with an inside edge back on to the stumps from Mitchell Starc. Stuart Broad completed England’s wobble as he was caught well by Hazlewood from a complete slog, with England looking in danger of not pulling out a lead of 400.

Mark Wood made 32 from just 18 balls

Mark Wood made 32 from just 18 balls

But Mark Wood brought up that milestone, hitting an entertaining 32 from 18 balls, including 4 fours and 1 six. Moeen Ali was unable to repeat his first innings heroics, as he ambitiously swung at a loose ball, nicking behind for 15. James Anderson was bowled by Lyon as England were bowled out for 289, a lead of 411. Nathan Lyon finished 4-75, with two wickets a piece for Johnson, Starc and Hazlewood.

England should realistically see off Australia comfortably, perhaps even with a day to spare. However, if they fail to dismiss the Aussie openers in the morning session then some nerves could creep in.

Pedestrian England fail to impress

England made slow and tedious progress on the 3rd day at the Oval. It was clear from the off that England were playing for the draw, with a run rate of just above 2 an over. Alistair Cook survived an lbw appeal, as the ball pitched outside leg stump. Some good Australian bowling baited Cook in to lashing out at a wide ball, nicking it behind to the diving Haddin. Not long after reaching a leisurely 50 partnership with Trott, Joe Root appeared to lose his head, sweeping a ball from Nathan Lyon up in the air, giving Watson a simple catch, with Root falling for 68. Jonathon Trott was next to fall, going lbw to Starc for 40 after a review, as he was initially given not out. Pieterson survived an lbw review on the way to his 2nd slowest test 50 in his career. Pieterson didn’t make any more runs, as he swung out and nicked it back to Watson. Ian Bell and Chris Woakes batted out the rest of the day, with England finishing on a pedestrian 247-4.

Bell ton revives England

Ian Bell’s 3rd century of the series helped England recover from 49-3 to finish the day on 234-5. Australia started the day at the crease, but the England attack made short work of the Aussie batsmen. Graeme Swann made an early breakthrough, trapping Haddin for lbw, and despite a wasted Australian review, Haddin went for 13. Swann then got the key wicket of Chris Rodgers, with Matt Prior showcasing a fantastic piece of wicket keeping, diving forward to dismiss Rodgers for an outstanding 110. The flurry of wickets continued after the new ball, with Jimmy Anderson finally getting in the act. Alistair Cook caught Siddle low down at slip for 5. Anderson got another wicket shortly after, with Nathan Lyon going out for 4, lbw. Ryan Harris had put on an impressive 28, before going lbw to Broad, his fifth wicket of the match. Australia finished on 270 all out, a lead of 32.

Ryan Harris destroyed England’s top order, with Joe Root the first to fall for 2 with a wonder ball from Harris, reminiscent of Anderson to Clarke at Trent Bridge. Cook was next to fall, lashing out at a ball that he really should have left, nicking it behind to Haddin for 22. Trott was next, flicking a Harris bouncer behind with his glove and caught by a diving Haddin for 23. With Pieterson and Bell at the crease, England recovered from 49-3. They were aided by some comedy fielding at the boundary, as an Australian mess up allowed them to run 4 runs. Pieterson survived a run out, after he played the ball back towards Lyon, who threw it back to Haddin, requiring Pieterson to dive back to stay in. Haddin missed a stumping of Pieterson, as he attempted to attack Lyon, but edged it narrowly passed Haddin and through for 4. This luck was short lived though, as Pieterson  fell shortly after for 44, as he tried to sweep Lyon but edged it out to Rodgers at cover. A bizarre decision came at 17:42, as the umpires led the players off due to bad light. Luckily, the players came out about 8 minutes later. Despite looking comfortable, Australia struck again with Haddin catch Bairstow for 28. Ian Bell brought up his 100 before the end of play, as England finished on 234-5, a lead of 202.

With Bell and Bresnan at the crease, England will look to build the lead up to about 300 tomorrow to put them in command of the test.

Root on form on day 3

Joe Root dominated day 3 at Lords as England extended their lead to over 500 runs. Root and Bresnan batted through until the afternoon session, with Root reaching his 50 in the process. Eventually though, Pattinson broke the 99 run partnership as Bresnan was caught by Rodgers for 38. Bresnan had been troubled by bouncers throughout his innings, but the Aussies didn’t exploit this until his eventual dismissal. Ian Bell came in at 6, but was fortunate to get past 3 runs. Steve Smith caught him; however the umpires were uncertain as to whether the ball had carried. Bell was given the benefit of the doubt, and proceeded to build a brilliant partnership with Root. Root made his first century at Lords just after tea, where he and Bell seemed to be toying with the Aussies by using an exciting array of shots. Bell passed his fifty before trying to hit big, only to find the hands of Rodgers, caught for 74. Root reached an unbeaten 178 at the close of play, with England’s score of 333-5 giving them a lead of 566 runs.

To win, Australia will need a record beating second innings, with the record successful run chase being 418 (West Indies Vs Australia 2003), and the record at Lords being 344 (West Indies Vs England 1984). After total domination today, England will feel that the second test is all but over. However, Captain Cook will have no trouble motivating his players to finish the job in a professional manner.

Broad controversy dominates day 3

It was imperative for England to bat out Day 3 at Trent Bridge to stand a chance of taking the third test. A score of 326 for 6 at the close is a good building point for tomorrow, with a lead of 261 runs.

The day started well as Pieterson raced to his fifty, with Cook only scoring 1 run at the other end. Things were looking good as the 3rd wicket partnership steadily build up England’s lead. But eventually the big breakthrough came, with Pattinson bowling Pieterson for 64. Cook at this point had reached 48, and went on to get his half century before being caught at slip by his opposite number Michael Clarke. Incidently, Cook became the first victim of yesterday’s hero Ashton Agar, who claimed his first test wicket for the Aussies. Ian Bell, who created a solid partnership with Jonny Bairstow, survived two lbw reviews either side of lunch. However, just after the second appeal for trapping Bell, Australia broke the 43 run partnership, with Bairstow becoming the second victim of Agar, caught in the slips by Haddin for just 15. England lost a wicket when looking strong, as Cowan caught Prior for 31 from Siddle’s bowling. Ian Bell and Stuart Broad set about extending England’s lead with a 108 run partnership throughout the afternoon.

After poor decisions cost England earlier in the test, finally one went their way. Stuart Broad appeared to edge Agar to Clarke at slip, but the umpire gave not out, with Broad sticking at the crease. Although it may have been unsporting not to walk, the decision lies with the umpire, and as Australia had no reviews left, Broad had the right to stand his ground. I mean, how many Australians would walk in this situation, at this key point in an ashes test. Speaking about the incident, Kevin Pieterson said “Every single batsman who plays cricket, no matter who you play for, has the right to wait for the umpire’s decision”.

Whatever you believe should have happened in this instance, it shouldn’t overshadow Ian Bell’s magnificent innings of 95. With England finishing on 326-6, they look in the driving seat for the final two days.