Bell Century Lifts England With
Victory In Sight

Match Report | 13th July 2013

The first day of the first Investec Ashes Test saw wickets fall at a frightful pace, the second saw a boy become a hero and the third laced with controversy. The fourth offered none of those, but was equally as absorbing as its predecessors.

After Ian Bell achieved an excellent century, England were bowled out for 375. Australia began a 311 run chase which, if it proves successful, would be the highest total achieved at Trent Bridge but dropped six wickets and finished the day on 174-6.

"It was certainly my best Ashes innings," said Ian Bell on his century.

"It was nice to put an innings like that together when the team needed it most."

"I've played too much Ashes cricket not to take anything for granted," he added, on his side's prospect for the final day.

Broad (47*) and Bell (95*) resumed at the crease with England on 326, and the latter eyeing what could be a hugely important Test century. The total was helped by Starc's first ball, a horrible wide full toss that sailed away for five no balls. Shortly after Broad completed a combative 50, swinging and knocking Pattinson through stationary slips for four.

A muted celebration from the Notts man followed, and the following over Bell completed an excellent Test century, and one central to England's chances in this match, courtesy of a misfield.

The pair progressed steadily, before Broad's innings came to an end on 65, edging Pattinson behind to Haddin. No choice but to walk after that one. After a pressurised spell from the Australian attack, Bell's exceptional period at the crease came through Mitchell Starc, another for wicket keeper Haddin. He finished with 109, and its importance to England's total should never be understated.

Swann and Finn were tasked with extending England's lead further past the 300 mark, and the Notts man looked ill at ease in the Trent Bridge sunshine, before sending a delivery from Siddle straight to Clarke at first slip. WIth the entire ground welcoming Jimmy Anderson in the hope of recreating some of the final-wicket stand heroics seen the day before, he lasted two balls, handing Hughes an easy catch at mid-wicket in the same Siddle over.

England concluded on 375 all out, and with half an hour before lunch Australia resumed, their 311 target looking ominously chaseable.

Watson and Rogers quickly moved the score to 28-0 by lunch, picking off deliveries with ease and surviving a pair of early scares.

The afternoon session continued in the same fashion, the pair's fifty partnership coming courtesy of an edge by Rogers through the slips for four. So comfortable were Rogers and Watson on arriving at 70-0, that the 311 set looked ever smaller.

The breakthrough came 24 overs in, Broad making the most of a drinks break to send a stunning delivery into Watson's pads. He reviews, but the replay shows the ball was destined for leg-stump. He left for 46, Australia on 84-1.

Another review followed after Swann looked to have Rogers caught by Prior, the umpires are convinced, but the Australians immediately sent it upstairs, to find the decision overruled with no contact on the bat.

Rogers, aided by Cowan's added runs, taking Australia over 100, and the English attack looked blunted. Enter Joe Root in the final over before tea, and a vital wicket. Cowan looked unsteady, and his attempted drive was held comfortably by Trott. The session ended with Australia 111-2, requiring exactly 200 for victory.

An early shout for LBW saved Rogers, saved by his inside edge, before the tide turned courtesy of Anderson. The opener was served one full and straight, which sailed to Ian Bell. At 124-3, momentum looked to have begun to shift.

Smith and captain Clarke slowed the attack and the pair played past the 150 milestone. It took Broad and another replay to break the partnership, Hotspot proving that there was the faintest of edges from Clarke to have him caught by Prior for 23.

The next ball, bowled by Swann, saw Trent Bridge erupt. Smith left, trapped plumb LBW and all of a sudden a victory for the hosts looked likely. The Nottinghamshire spinner struck once more, this time seeing off Hughes, with the aid of technology again. Dharmasena said no, but it was immediately sent to the third umpire. It didn't take much deliberation before Smith returned to the pavilion for a duck.

A certain Ashton Agar entered at number 8, keen tor replicate his form from the first innings. A couple of late chances followed from the tenacious Swann, but the youngster, alongside Brad Haddin, navigated the closing overs to finish on 174-6.

The visitors will resume in the morning with odds stacked against them, only four wickets in hand and requiring 137 more runs. With England's bowlers smelling blood, it could be a difficult final day for the visitors.

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