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Bell steers England to Ashes series lead over Australia

Bell steers England to Ashes series lead over Australia

BIRMINGHAM: Ian Bell delighted a capacity crowd at his Edgbaston home ground with a sparkling unbeaten fifty as England defeated Australia by eight wickets to win the third Test on Friday.

Victory, achieved with more than two days to spare, saw England go 2-1 up in the five-match Ashes series.

England, set a modest victory target of 121, finished on 124 for two shortly before tea on Friday’s third day.

Bell, promoted to number three after his place was called into question following a run of low scores, was 65 not out — his second fifty of the match.

Joe Root, who struck the winning boundary off Mitchell Marsh, was 38 not out in an unbroken stand of 73.

This match represented a remarkable turnaround from England’s humiliating 405-run defeat in the second Test at Lord’s which saw Australia level the series at 1-1.

But whereas that clash had taken place on a largely placid pitch, the course of this Test owed much to Australia captain Michael Clarke’s decision to bat first on a seaming surface offering sideways movement.


James Anderson, England’s all-time most successful Test bowler but wicketless at Lord’s, led the way with an Ashes-best six for 47 as Australia were dismissed for just 136 in their first innings.

And recalled fast bowler Steven Finn, the man of the match, took a Test-best six for 79 in Australia’s second innings 265.

But come Friday, Anderson had been ruled out of both the remainder of this match and next week’s fourth Test at Trent Bridge with a side strain suffered while bowling on Thursday.

“It’s an amazing game, isn’t it?,” Bell, a member of the England side that won the first Test by 169 runs in Cardiff, told Sky Sports.

“It was a tough week after Lord’s. The bowlers set the tone on day one, it’s been a great week for us but there’s a lot of hard work for next week as well.”

As for his own efforts at Edgbaston, the 33-year-old Bell, who was appearing in his 113th Test, said: “I hope that’s the start of me getting back in form.”

Meanwhile Clarke, looking to guide Australia to a first Ashes series win in Britain in 14 years, said: “It’s very hard to explain.

“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.”

England captain Alastair Cook added: “The way Jimmy (Anderson) bowled in that first innings was fantastic, but I don’t think it was a 140 all out pitch.

“You always wonder whether cricket has a sting in the tail, but it’s good to see Ian Bell back in form.”

England saw Cook and fellow left-handed opener Adam Lyth both fall cheaply in their run-chase on Friday.

But Bell took charge with a flurry of four fours in seven balls off Mitchell Starc, including one down the ground and a classic cover-drive.

He was, however, given a reprieve on 20 when, with England 35 for one, he edged Starc to second slip only for Clarke to drop the two-handed catch.

It summed up a miserable match for Clarke, whose run of low scores in Tests continued with innings of 10 and three at Edgbaston.

Bell’s late-cut boundary off Starc saw him to his second fifty of the match, off 68 balls with seven fours.

As England neared victory, there was mass barracking of Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, repeatedly taunted with a derogatory song regarding his accuracy that became commonplace during England’s 2010-11 Ashes series win ‘Down Under’.

It appeared to get to the left-arm quick, who aborted his run-up for one delivery and then bowled from well behind the crease before he was taken off.

Australia resumed on Friday on 168 for seven, 23 runs ahead.

The two not out batsmen overnight, Peter Nevill and Starc, both went on to make fifties after five of Australia’s top six failed to get to double figures in the innings.


AUSTRALIA (1st Innings) 136 (C. Rogers 52; J. Anderson 6-47)

ENGLAND (1st Innings) 281 (J. Root 63, M. Ali 59, I. Bell 53; N. Lyon 3-36, J. Hazlewood 3-74)

AUSTRALIA (2nd Innings, overnight: 168-7)

C. Rogers lbw b Broad6 D. Warner c Lyth b Anderson77 S. Smith c Buttler b Finn8 M. Clarke c Lyth b Finn3 A. Voges c Bell b Finn0 M. Marsh b Finn6 P. Nevill c Buttler b Finn59 M. Johnson c Stokes b Finn14 M. Starc c sub (Poysden) b Ali58 J. Hazlewood c Root b Stokes11 N. Lyon not out12

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-9)11

TOTAL (all out, 79.1 overs)265

FALL OF WKTS: 1-17 (Rogers), 2-62 (Smith), 3-76 (Clarke), 4-76 (Voges), 5-92 (Marsh), 6-111 (Warner), 7-153 (Johnson), 8-217 (Nevill), 9-245 (Hazlewood).

BOWLING: Anderson 8.3-5-15-1; Broad 20-4-61-1; Finn 21-3-79-6; Ali 16.1-3-64-1; Stokes 11-3-28-1; Root 2.3-0-7-0;

ENGLAND (2nd Innings):

A. Lyth lbw b Hazlewood12 A. Cook b Starc7 I. Bell not out65 J. Root not out38


TOTAL (for two wkts, 32.1 overs)124

DID NOT BAT: J. Bairstow, B. Stokes, J. Buttler, M. Ali, S. Broad, S. Finn, J. Anderson.

FALL OF WKTS: 1-11 (Cook), 2-51 (Lyth).

BOWLING: Starc 6-1-33-1 (2w); Hazlewood 7-0-21-1; Lyon 11-1-52-0; Johnson 7-3-10-0; Marsh 1.1-0-8-0


UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (PAK), Chris Gaffaney (NZL)

TV UMPIRE: Marais Erasmus (RSA)

MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2015

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