3rd Test, Day Three, Edgbaston.
England managed to win the third Ashes test with two days spare, as they crushed Australia by 8 wickets at Edgbaston.
Ian Bell continued his resurgence with the bat with an unbeaten 65, as the hosts managed to chase down their target of 121 for victory inside 32.1 overs.
Joe Root also contributed an unbeaten 38 to settle the match, despite the hosts losing captain Alastair Cook for just seven at the start of the innings.
Australia had earlier added 97 runs before losing their three remaining wickets- with Steven Finn recording his best test figures of 6-79.
The tourists slogged the ball around the ground, with Peter Nevill leading the charge by reaching a half-century. He was caught behind not long after though, when he edged Finn’s delivery into the gloves of Jos Buttler.
Mitchell Starc and Paul Hazlewood added 28 before the latter was caught brilliantly by Root.
Starc, who had also slogged his way past fifty, clipped Moeen Ali’s delivery to extra cover, and to the roar of the England crowd- England had set themselves up nicely to finish the match within nine sessions.
England were however up against a resilient Starc.
As a result, the Aussie fast bowler dismissed both Cook (7) and Adam Lyth (12) early on. He clean bowled the England skipper with a fastball that swung inwards devilishly.
He then caught under pressure Lyth for LBW to leave the home fans holding their breath.
But Ian Bell, who has received criticism throughout the series, proved his credentials with a calm, professional half century, which included five boundaries. However he did offer Australia a great chance for his wicket.
Australian captain Michael Clarke spurned a simple catch when the Warwickshire batsman edged Starc’s pacey delivery to slip.
It proved to be the deadliest of blows to the tourists, as Bell and Root saw out the game to leave England one win away from regaining the urn.
It was another ‘reaction’ performance from England, which seems to be a constant theme in this year’s Ashes series.
Australia bounced back from a crushing first test defeat to smash England at Lord’s last week to level the series.
But this week it was England’s turn to turn the tide of the series in their direction once again, with three days of brilliant cricket. Including the two 6-wicket hauls by James Anderson and Steven Finn- the first time that happened in a test match by two English bowlers for 34 years.
“The way Jimmy Anderson bowled in that first innings was fantastic,” claimed a jubilant Cook.
“It’s also been an amazing comeback from Steven Finn. Standing there at slip, you thought he was going to get a nick every ball. The character he has shown to come back after a lot of hard work is incredible.”
Steven Finn added: “This week has been fantastic and I’m thoroughly enjoying Test cricket again.
“There were a few nerves in the first few balls and you question yourself but after that it was focusing on getting people out.
“I did doubt at times if I’d play again but knew I could be good enough again. To be stood here now, there is no better feeling.”
Australia will have to ponder on their batting performance after they failed to post decent totals on what was a relatively flat pitch.
“It’s very hard to explain,” said Clarke.
“Credit has to go to England, they bowled well on day one and we didn’t bat anywhere near we’d have liked. I still would have batted first; you can see the wicket has deteriorated.
“It swung and seamed throughout the whole game. We probably had the best batting conditions, we just didn’t execute with bat and ball.”
The fourth test commences on August 6th at Trent Bridge.
* QUOTES FROM BBC SPORT.