By Stephen Giles

  • England win by 8 wickets on the third day at Edgbaston.
  • Ian Bell leads England home with another half century
  • Australia all out for 265, setting England 121 to win

BIRMINGHAM, UK – England beat Australia by 8 wickets on the third day at Edgbaston and go 2-1 up in the series with two games left to play.

Ian Bell (63*) recorded his second consecutive half century of the match as he and Joe Root (38*) settled any lingering nerves after the early losses of Alastair Cook (7) and Adam Lyth (12) to ease the hosts home with an unbeaten 72 partnership and seal a thoroughly comprehensive victory.

The Aussies had valiantly added 97 runs in the morning session before eventually being dismissed for 265 and set England a tricky victory target of 121 to win the Third Investec Ashes Test Match in Birmingham.

In truth, it was a frustrating morning for the hosts, with both Steven Finn and Stuart Broad repeatedly beating the outside edge of the bat on numerous occasions as lady luck shone on the tourists.

Peter Nevill (59) and Mitchell Starc (58) both displayed their battling qualities as they took the game to England knowing they needed to fight hard just to set a challenging target, as they began the day on 168-7, a lead of just 23.

They responded well, contributing a valuable 64-run partnership that sent quite a few nervous moments around Edgbaston who foolishly believed the 2005 Test was being played out before them again.

Nevill had shielded doggedly on the second evening but this was a totally different ball-game. He had to score runs, and he knew it, which he flawlessly demonstrated with seven boundaries on his way to his maiden Test half-century.

England were guilty of maybe trying a bit too hard and forcing the issue when ideally patience was a virtue.

The mistake ultimately came as Nevill was caught down the leg-side off the bowling of Finn – who recorded his best Test figures of 6-79 – and left Starc to take up anchoring duties and insert himself as senior batsman and proceed to drive the total onwards – which he did in style, exhibiting his clear talent with the bat by launching a lofty six off Moeen Ali and bringing up a half-century of his own.

He shared a 28-run stand with Josh Hazelwood before he was brilliantly caught in the slips cordon by Root off the bowling of Ben Stokes for 11.

Starc was the last man to go, caught by Warwickshire’s young substitute fielder Josh Poysden at mid-off, off the bowling of Ali to end the innings on 265 and set England an interesting 121 to win.

In response, Cook was clean bowled by a fine Starc outswinger that pitched on leg and clipped off stump & Adam Lyth’s poor form continued and must now be facing calls for the axe as he was out lbw to Hazelwood for 12.

So, it was left for Root and Bell to confidently take England home with three overs still left before the tea interval as the Edgbaston crowd boisterously followed their heroes every step of the way.

It was a crucial victory for England and boy, what a turnaround from the diabolical display at Lord’s. Whatever it lacks, this was unpredictable, memorable and slightly bizarre cricket at it’s very best.

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JUMPING FOR JOY: Ian Bell and Joe Root celebrate after scoring the winning runs

Australia and England now venture fifty miles north to Trent Bridge, Nottingham with some thought provoking issues to discuss. The tourist’s capitulated twice; Michael Clarke is so badly out of form, what can they do to change things around?

As for England: Who will replace James Anderson. Will Adam Lyth open the batting at Trent Bridge or will Alex Hales or James Taylor take his place and represent their country on their home turf?

Will they (England) be able to win two Tests in a row for the first time this year? If they can manage to do so – England will regain the Ashes, that is for certain– but for now – England will rightly celebrate, reassess and go again.

Investec Man of the Match: STEVE FINN


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