By Stephen Giles
- England regain the Ashes
- Hosts win by an innings and 78 runs
- Australia all out for 253; Stokes – 6-36
- The hosts take an unassailable 3-1 lead with one to play.
NOTTINGHAM, UK – England gloriously regained the Ashes urn after wrapping up a victory over Australia on the third morning of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.
The hosts took just 39 minutes and 60 balls to take Australia’s last three remaining wickets to win by an innings and 78 runs, with the impressive Ben Stokes finishing with 6-36. England were then finally able to banish the memories of their humiliating 5-0 defeat Down Under, just 19 months ago.
The result gives the hosts an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series with one Test at The Oval still to play and one more for the history books: England have now beaten Australia in four consecutive home series – their best sequence for 115 years.
After skittling Australia out for 60 on day one with Stuart Broad’s 8-15, England made 391-9 declared in reply with Joe Root top scoring with 130 before reducing the tourists to 241-7 last night, before bad light stopped play.
Australia started the third – and ultimately final – day at Trent Bridge needing 90 runs to ensure England batted again, yet the more applicable target was the three wickets required by the hosts.
The tourists began commendably. They were so engrossed on survival it came at the expense of scoring. It took 20 minutes for the visitors to score a run.
So when the first breakthrough finally arrived courtesy of that man Stokes, it was really no surprise, given the stunning way he had bowled yesterday. The burgeoning all-rounder continued where he left off as he angled a delivery which Mitchell Starc (0) could only fend off by edging to Ian Bell at shoulder height at second slip.
It was remarkable bowling from Stokes, arguably bowling better today than he did so yesterday when he picked up 5-35. He masterfully swung the ball from left to right, bamboozling the Aussie batsman who could only play and miss.
It was however Mark Wood who took the next wicket with Josh Hazlewood’s (0) middle stump uprooted out of the ground having lasted nine balls previously to leave England on the brink of a famous victory.
Amid the doom and gloom for Australia the only chink of light came from the bat of Adam Voges (51*), who finally got some reward for his patient innings after an overall poor series – reaching his half-century in just under three hours, emphasising England’s complete and utter supremacy.
The game was to finish when Wood – in for the injured James Anderson – delivered the final blow, shattering last man Nathan Lyon’s (4) stumps after an inside edge to bring him crouching down to his knees knowing the Ashes had been lost.
He was mobbed by his team-mates and generated an almighty frenzy on the field and in the stands before an emotional lap of honour where the sounds of “Stand up, if you’re 3-1 up” and “Rule, Britannia” echoed around Trent Bridge.
Let’s not forget the route England have taken to end up here. It has been a topsy-turvy past year for the hosts, having endured disappointing series’ against Sri Lanka and the West Indies with the Kevin Pieterson saga cropping up in between.
We’ve always recognised that this was a young team brimming with plenty of promise, so to see them ruthlessly stamp their authority onto the biggest series in cricket and mature in such a way under the guidance of new coach Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace has been a pleasure to watch
Should England draw or win the Fifth and final Test Match at The Oval, it will lift them to number two in the world rankings and with Pakistan, India and South Africa to come, just how far can this promising young England team go?
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