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August 12, 2013
England 238 (Cook 51, Lyon 4-42) and 330 (Bell 113, Harris 7-117, Lyon 3-55) beat Australia 270 (Rogers 110, Watson 68, Broad 5-71) and 224 (Warner 71, Broad 6-50) by 74 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
To Headingley and Edgbaston 1981 may be added Durham 2013. As happened 32 years ago, Australia tossed away day upon day of diligent cricket with a crowded hour or so of batting calamity, against bowling of high quality from an England team that had looked momentarily bereft of inspiration.
Where in 1981 Bob Willis and Ian Botham had rained blows on their antipodean rivals, this time it was Stuart Broad, aided by a critical cameo from Tim Bresnan. Back then, England had been marshalled expertly by Mike Brearley; now it was Alastair Cook who pulled the right rein by replacing Graeme Swann with Bresnan when Australia were 167 for 2 and hurtling towards 299 to win.
What followed was a cavalcade of wickets that undid nine days' worth of hard graft from an Australia team straining to break a sequence of ineptitude. England would have hoped to stay in the match with four wickets after tea - they won it by claiming nine, six to a fearsome Broad. Slightly sheepish in their Ashes retention in Manchester, the hosts could now celebrate winning them in dramatic and damaging style.
For all their efforts at Old Trafford and Chester-le-Street the tourists are 3-0 down, confidence battered by the realisation of futility. Australia's belief that they can win Test matches will be extremely shaken. England's sense that they can defeat Australia come what may can never be stronger than it is now. Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris, all heroic at times in this match, will ponder whether the twilight of their careers will be lived without Ashes hope. Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja now bear the scars that once dogged England's 1990s generation.
Broad's impact on the match was profound, as a tally of 11 wickets attests. His away cutter to defeat Michael Clarke was among the balls of the series. But it was Bresnan's introduction that swung the contest, reaping the dismissal of a fluent and focused David Warner. With Rogers he had blunted England's bowlers in a stirring century stand and, though Swann had beaten Rogers with spin and Khawaja without it, Warner and Clarke were scoring freely.
Warner has seldom played better in Tests, repeatedly piercing the off-side field with back-foot punches, then advancing to loft Swann over wide long off for six. But as a modicum of cloud cover passed over Durham, Bresnan extracted bounce and movement from a perfect length to tickle Warner's outside edge and pull England back from the precipice.
Andy Flower's messages from the boundary had circulated freely as Australia swept closer to their target, and a drinks break brought about the plan that would do in Clarke. England set a field that foreshadowed a short ball, and Clarke could not help but notice. Instead he received a delivery that was full, fast and seaming away. The off stump tilted back as Joe Root's had on day three, and Broad roared his approval.
Smith has had a poor match, out cheaply on day two then dropping a catch on the fourth morning. He eluded one caught-behind appeal when the ball struck his hip rather than his bat, but when essaying the shot again could manage only to drag it off his body and on to the stumps.
Shane Watson's front pad again got in the way, plonked across the stumps to Bresnan. Leg stump was visible when he was struck in line, and though the angle was sharp, Aleem Dar's finger was raised. Watson's review showed the ball clipping the stumps, enough to keep him walking.
Broad's pace was pushing the Australians back in their crease, a dangerous position from which to play the seaming ball. Haddin would fall in this manner, struck in line and with feet in the air. As the only batsman left he had to review Tony Hill's decision, and like Watson would depart to a ball barely clipping the stumps. England celebrated like winners.
From there, all that remained was to mop up Australia's longest tail of the series. Harris ended a match he should be proud of by being pinned lbw, Nathan Lyon was far too late and crooked on a Broad delivery that made a mess of his stumps. In fading light, Cook claimed the extra half hour to clinch the match, and a final burst of sun allowed him to call on Broad again. Three balls later Peter Siddle lamely poked a catch to mid-off, a fitting end for Broad but also Australia.
To his evening contribution, Bresnan had added a critical morning prelude. In Harris' hands the new ball immediately started to dance on a pitch showing increasing signs of wear. Bresnan shouldered arms to one ball from Jackson Bird that seamed back and would have clipped the top of the stumps, but that was not enough to overturn Dar's not-out verdict - Australia lost their final review.
The first ball of Harris' second over was fast, skidding and low of bounce, crashing into Bell's stumps after 254 minutes' batting of the highest class. Matt Prior marched out for precisely one delivery, which kicked up off a similar length to the previous one and crashed into off stump via the batsman's arm. Broad averted the hat-trick, but was soon pinned on the gloves by a vicious bouncer from around the wicket.
Harris now had six wickets and England a lead of 243. Knowing this was not enough, Bresnan moved up a gear, clouting Bird out of the attack with a series of muscular blows, then put a dent in the figures of Harris. Swann followed up by gliding Siddle's first ball of the morning to the cover fence. Australian shoulders began to slump.
Clarke replaced Siddle with Lyon, and his maiden calmed the innings. Harris then bowled similarly tightly to Bresnan and was rewarded with a return catch and his best figures in Tests. Swann's response to the fall of the ninth wicket was to try to hit Lyon into the stands, and he offered a high, swirling chance to Smith. He was under the ball in plenty of time but did not get entirely balanced, and the ball bounced out of tense hands.
Swann took England's lead near enough to 300 before Lyon found Anderson's outside edge. They had more than doubled the runs Australia's tail managed to cobble on the previous morning, a difference that would prove almost as decisive as the bowling of Broad and Bresnan. Though they have dodged punches for the most part of two matches, England are deserving Ashes winners. Australia, as they did 32 years ago, have become awfully accomplished at finding ways to lose.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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