- Ian Bell scores 18th Test century as England reach 375
- Australia set off briskly in pursuit of 311
- A frustrating afternoon session for England is redeemed by Root taking Cowan’s wicket on stroke of tea
- Scoring becomes difficult in attritional evening session
- Clarke’s dismissal triggers a mini-collapse to leave Australia reeling
England struck three times in three overs in the evening session as they looked like finally overcoming Australia on day four of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
The hosts were under pressure for much of the day as Australia set about a historic run chase of 311 in spirited fashion, led by opening pair Shane Watson (46) and Chris Rogers (52), but in the final passage of the day Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann struck key blows to ravage the tourists’ middle order.
Scoring, not easy all day, became tricky in the evening - just 63 runs were added in 34.2 overs. The slow nature of the pitch worked in England's favour but it also counted against them, with the batsmen edging several times, only for it not to carry through to the slip cordon at catchable height.
Finding it tough to time the ball, Rogers gifted his wicket with a chip to midwicket off the bowling of James Anderson.
Michael Clarke and Steve Smith grafted together, getting past the halfway mark on the chase. But Broad struck with Clarke on 23 to spark a mini-collapse.
It was an extraordinary process, a 21st-century dismissal. First the umpires consulted and reviewed the edge to Matt Prior behind the stumps to establish the ball had carried. Once that had been given, Clarke reviewed, believing he had not hit it. Hot spot confirmed he was wrong, using up Australia's last review of the innings in the process.
The very next ball Swann got his first scalp at the other end. It came after more than 20 fruitless overs, but his sharp turner caught Steve Smith plumb on the back foot on 17.
Two overs later, England used DRS to overturn a rejected lbw against Phil Hughes, still on a duck. There was some surprise that the ball, which turned so sharply, had actually pitched online, but Hawk-Eye showed it had - by a whisker.
Brad Haddin and newly-promoted Ashton Agar got the tourists to the close, but by now the scale of their task was clear. They added 10 runs in 9.1 overs, surviving rather than threatening to get the tourists over the line.
The game is not over, but the odds are heavily in England's favour to take the last four wickets before Australia eke out 137 runs on day five.
THE TEA REPORT
Australia (280 and 111-2 in 36.4 overs: Rogers 50*) trail England (215 and 375 from 149.5 overs: Bell 109*, Broad 65) by 200 runs
Joe Root sprung a surprise to remove Ed Cowan on the stroke of tea and curb Australia’s momentum on day four at Trent Bridge.
Australia had proceeded at good speed in pursuit of 311 runs courtesy of their opening partnership, with Chris Rogers unbeaten on 50 at the interval.
England’s bowlers began well but tired as the openers settled, and though Stuart Broad eventually dismissed Shane Watson lbw for 46, Rogers and Ed Cowan looked to be seeing Australia safely through to tea until part-time off-spinner Root struck.
In two and a half hours of play the target, a record amount to win a Trent Bridge Test, has been whittled down to less than 200, and England, who appeared to have taken a decisive hold of the match in the third innings, suddenly looked fallible again.
Cook settled upon James Anderson and Graeme Swann at first, but despite Anderson threatening to make the ball reverse and Swann getting occasionally erratic turn and bounce Watson and Rogers continued along in carefree fashion.
Wicketless at drinks, England needed a breakthrough, and got it the first ball after the break when Broad trapped Watson.
The Australian reviewed, but Hawk-Eye showed the ball was destined to glance the leg stump, much to his dismay.
Rogers could have followed – he was given out, but his review proved he had not touched a Swann delivery which span sharply.
Cowan, arriving to the crease on a king pair, was streaky and out of form, but Steven Finn, not used by Cook until late in the afternoon, was equally out of touch, and fed him some cuttable deliveries to get him going.
With Finn only trusted for three largely innocuous overs, a punt was taken on Root while Swann continued to bowl tidily but without reward.
And offering Cowan a driveable ball, he ran around in delight as the left-hander fell into his trap, edging to Jonathan Trott who took a smart catch at slip.
THE LUNCH REPORT
Australia (280 and 28-0) trail England (215 and 375 from 149.5 overs: Bell 109*, Broad 65) by 283 runs
Ian Bell’s century helped England set Australia an imposing 311 to win the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
The Warwickshire man’s 18th Test ton was one of his toughest, and though he only added 14 runs to his overnight 95, it helped set the tone as England batted for a further 80 minutes on day four.
Stuart Broad also managed to reach a half-century, but once Australia recovered from Mitchell Starc’s howler of an opening ball – a beamer which whistled away for five wides – they bowled with discipline and made scoring difficult.
Broad was the first to fall, with his controversial non-dismissal last night still dominating conversations. This time when he edged James Pattinson behind to Brad Haddin, the umpire spotted it straight away.
Bell tried to up his scoring with a couple of crisp drives and cuts, but he tickled a sharp, reverse-swinging delivery from Starc behind to end on 109. He was treated to warm applause from the crowd, a reflection of the importance of his innings in the context of the match and also his own career.
Graeme Swann scratched and poked his way to nine from 28 deliveries before Peter Siddle put him out of his misery, and James Anderson’s vigil was all of two balls long.
His primary job is to bowl, however, and his hooping swing produced several plays-and-misses in the first seven overs of the Australian chase. Broad, fit to take the new ball and bowling well, also came close to the first breakthrough, while Jonny Bairstow's quick throw almost produced a run-out.
But Shane Watson and Chris Rogers played their shots too, and will be pleased to have made a brisk start to an improbable run-chase.