An Ashes Test cannot be won in a session; but they can probably be won in three: After Stuart Broad’s incredible performance in dismissing Australia for 60 on the first morning of the fourth Ashes Test, England consolidated at 274-4 at the close.
It is a lead of 214, and it puts them in a strong position to take the match, and with it, the Ashes, repairing in some way the humiliation of the 5-0 whitewash over a less than festive season in Australia.
Australia had their moments of hope, notably when England were 34-2, but a fighting 43 from Alastair Cook and a superb innings of 124 from Joe Root, backed by 74 from Johnny Bairstow allayed those fears
But the story is of Stuart Broad, and his 8-15 in 9.3 overs as Australia were dismissed in only 18.3 overs, with cricket statisticians having a field day.
‘Unbelievable really,’ Broad said. ‘I love bowling here. We knew Trent Bridge would offer something from a good length. Don’t chase the game.’
Broad’s first wicket brought his to the 300 Test mark; and it was a perfect delivery to Chris Rogers with the third ball of the day. Three balls later, the world’s No 1 batsman Steve Smith was also on his way, undone by another perfect delivery and edged to third slip.
In just 6.1 overs, Broad had his five-for. He bowled a perfect, inviting length finding just enough seam movement and leaving a systematic close-catching cordon to do the rest. Australia did not play and miss all that much, but they went hard at the ball, nicked often and nine of the 10 wickets fell to the impressive slip cordon of six eager catchers.
Of them all, though, the most spectacular was that taken by Ben Stokes, who reached behind him after a thick edge from a hard drive by Adam Voges. That drained the spirit from Australia. Michael Clarke had demoted himself to find form and found himself instead facing a new ball. But that still does not excuse the wild swipe he played to gift his wicket for Broad’s five-for.
Mark Wood, in for James Anderson, had the equally dangerous Dave Warner edge behind and Steve Finn swung one in to dismiss Peter Nevill. Then it was over to Broad, who bowled through on a high.
Broad had begun the morning hoping for 300 Test wickets. He finished level with Fred Trueman’s 307 and was the possessor of England’s third-best figures in Ashes history, only Jim Laker ahead of him.