A half-century from Ian Bell and a composed knock from Stuart Broad ensured England ended the day on the front foot.

After two wickets had fell in both the first and second sessions, Bell played effortlessly for his 95 with Broad reining himself in to make 47 and survive the last session without the fall of a wicket in order to end on 326-6, a lead of 261 by the close. 

They began the day on 80-2 with captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen looking to utilise the best time for batting in the Test. They maneuvered the early period well but when Pietersen fell for 64, England had lost one of their key batsmen.

Cook became debutant Ashton Agar’s first test wicket soon after, caught superbly at slip by Clarke for 50. That left England on 131-4 and with just a 66-run lead to their credit Australia would head towards lunch with the momentum.

Bell began the rebuilding work and was ably backed up by Jonny Bairtsow. The Yorkshireman had reached 15 before he was Agar’s second wicket of the day, caught behind just before the second new ball was due.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior joined Bell and both batsmen did a good job of seeing off the pressure of the new ball. However, when Prior was set on 31, another loose shot proved his downfall as an attempted pull fell straight to Ed Cowan at midwicket. England had once again let Australia back in with the lead just 153 and only four home wickets remained.

A determined Broad joined Bell and they got to work in seeing that Australia didn’t have a sniff for the rest of the day. Bell reached his fifty just prior to tea and continued thereafter to blunt any response from the tourists’ bowlers. At the other end, Broad was more subdued than in recent times achieving his best score in a Test since July 2011. 

The Nottinghamshire seamer ended on 47, a score which will see him keen to push on in the morning. Bell’s innings could not produce a 100 before the close of play but both will be happy with the unbroken 108-run stand in which they have shared.

With the third day proving to be more subdued than days 1 and 2, it would be easy to forget the class that both batsmen showed. Bell had been under pressure from critics due to recent performances whilst Broad provided some history to match that of Agar’s from day 2.

On a day which saw The Broad Appeal in earnest at Trent Bridge, Broad became the first England player to pass 1000 Test runs batting at number eight. Two days still remain and with just four wickets falling throughout the day, the prospect of a tight final day finish is back on the cards.