Bowlers shine for England as Australia collapse to defeat
England clinched the Ashes for a third time in succession with a rush of wickets for Stuart Broad as Australia subsided to a dramatic 74-run defeat at Chester-le-Street.
Broad (six for 50) finished with 11 wickets in the match as the tourists, set 299 to win, collapsed from 147 for one to 224 all out.
David Warner appeared to be giving English supporters a real reason to dislike him with his 71 runs as Australia threatened to reduce their series arrears to 2-1 with one to play.
But from 168 for two, they lost their next five wickets for 13 runs to Broad and Tim Bresnan on the way to a terminal 3-0 deficit.
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Warner, the pantomime villain of this summer after his punch at Joe Root in a Birmingham bar during the Champions Trophy, at last landed some apparently significant blows in the middle.
Yet his opening stand of 109 with Chris Rogers ultimately amounted to little as England completed an Ashes hat-trick for the first time since Ian Botham was turning matches on their head back in 1981.
Yesterday, it was England’s nearest thing to a latter-day version of Botham’s all-round talents who drove the victory surge, Broad taking three wickets for two runs in 17 balls and all his six for 20 in 45.
It was fitting, after a hiatus as England battled bad light in the extra half-hour and were forced to take Broad’s pace out of the attack, that he should return and have Peter Siddle caught at mid-off to be last out just after 7.40pm.
Bresnan was no slouch either, adding two wickets to a crucial innings of 45 which got England up to 330 all out in the morning as Ryan Harris recorded career-best figures of seven for 117.
England were then unable to prevent the series’ first three-figure opening partnership.
Rogers needed his fair share of fortune and, between the scores of three and 14, had four various scares ranging from lbw reviews to a dropped catch by Graeme Swann at second slip – an uncanny repeat of one of his first-innings escapes.
Warner completed his half-century from 74 balls when he timed Bresnan away past cover for his eighth four to go with a six struck high over wide long-off from only the third ball bowled by Swann.
Rogers appeared set to follow his partner to 50 until he was caught at slip, one run short, when Swann got one delivery to grip. Swann trapped Usman Khawaja too, lbw shortly after tea. But it was when Bresnan struck in his first over – replacing the off-spinner after 15 in succession from the Finchale End and finding extra bounce to have Warner edging behind – that Australia’s collapse took hold.
Broad produced an outstanding delivery to knock back Michael Clarke’s off stump, and then had Steve Smith defelecting a short ball on to his stumps via a faulty pull.
Shane Watson and Brad Haddin both went lbw, to Bresnan and Broad respectively and each using up a review to decisions confirmed only by the ‘umpire’s call’ margin of error.
After Broad then clean-bowled Nathan Lyon to leave one wicket remaining, for 25 minutes the prospect loomed of a return today as the umpires repeatedly consulted their light meters – until a shaft of precious sunlight allowed England to go back, from spin at both ends, to Plan A.