England crushed Australia by 347 runs at Lord’s to take a 2-0 lead in the series and tighten their grip on the Ashes urn.
The hosts bowled Australia out for 235 late on the fourth day, having set them a notional 583 to win after declaring on 349-7 when Joe Root was dismissed for 180.
The tourists’ last-wicket pair frustrated England for an hour and threatened to take the match into a final day.
But with just four balls remaining before a delayed close, Graeme Swann trapped James Pattinson lbw for 35 to send England’s players into delighted celebrations.
The off-spinner finished with 4-78, and nine wickets in the match, while Tim Bresnan, James Anderson and Root took two wickets apiece.
Once again, the day featured controversies over the decision review system – Steve Smith and Ashton Agar fell to marginal calls – but there was no masking the gulf in quality between the sport’s two oldest rivals.
The resounding victory, England’s third biggest in terms of runs, puts Alastair Cook’s team in a commanding position from which to win their third Ashes series in a row.
Don Bradman’s 1936-37 Australians are the only team in the 136-year history of Test cricket to have come back from 2-0 down to win a series.
Should Australia fight back to draw 2-2 – something neither team have ever managed – England would still retain the urn, having won the last two series between the sides.
Despite an overnight lead of 466, England chose to continue batting in an effort to get Root to his double-hundred and further wear down the pitch.
But, after Jonny Bairstow had been caught behind cutting at Ryan Harris, Root attempted a ramp shot and scooped to Smith at third man, providing the cue for Cook to declare and set about dismantling the Australia batting order for the fourth time in the series.
Shane Watson’s innings followed a familiar trajectory, a trio of fours followed by an lbw dismissal as Anderson nipped one back. Ex-England batsman & Test Match Special summariser
“When you win in four days and are so much better than the opposition, you can’t criticise England. I think Australia will hope to get better but I’m not sure they can. England will just win again.”
Swann removed left-handers Chris Rogers and Phil Hughes in quick succession on a pitch tailor-made for his spin-bowling artistry.
After two sharply turning balls had fizzed past the outside edge, Rogers played no stroke to a delivery that went on with the arm and knocked over off stump.
A similar delivery accounted for Hughes, who played for spin that was not there and was trapped lbw. For the second time in the match Hughes used up one of Australia’s reviews, which established the ball would have hit leg stump.
On 36-3 at lunch, and with Swann turning the ball considerably, Australia were in danger of crumbling to a lower total than their first-innings 128, but Michael Clarke and Usman Khawaja battled hard in a stand of 98.
Clarke was struck three times by Stuart Broad, with one ball thudding into the badge on his helmet, and showed good footwork to the spinners before he glanced Root to leg slip to depart for 51. The part-time off-spinner, generating some alarming turn from the rough outside the left-hander’s off stump, accounted for Khawaja for 54 in the next over, when a thick edge was caught by Anderson at second slip.
When Bresnan removed Smith and Agar either side of tea – both to thin edges that were given out by the third umpire despite no obvious Hot Spot marks on the bat – the game was as good as up. Swann collected his third wicket when Brad Haddin padded up and was given out lbw. With no Australia reviews remaining, Haddin was powerless to overturn what turned out to be an incorrect call.
Anderson castled Peter Siddle to break a partnership of 30 with Pattinson and move England to within one wicket of glory. The resistance of Pattinson and Harris, however, frustrated England and forced them into taking an extra half-hour. Seven more overs came and went, with plenty of near misses, until Swann got a ball to fizz past Pattinson’s outside edge and clatter into his back leg to deliver the final act of a compelling drama.
Given the vast margin of victory, it is easy to forget that England were reduced to 28-3 on the opening morning of the match after winning the toss under cloudless skies. A classy 109 from Ian Bell helped them recover to 361 before Australia were blown away in an abject, and at times comical, display of batting.
England stuttered again at the start of their second innings, but such was the margin of their lead that it only needed one innings of substance to all but ensure a home win. Root was the man to oblige, with a masterful century that ground Australia into the Lord’s turf and set the stage for England’s bowlers to bring home the match – and quite possibly the series.
Source : www.bbc.co.uk