Watch highlights of the afternoon session on day five
A dramatic Test that had swayed this way and that from the first wayward ball to the decisive delivery was settled three overs into the afternoon session of the final day – and it took a special bowler to win it.
Australia had started the day on 174 for six requiring 137 runs to win. A new-ball burst from Jimmy Anderson, during a marathon 13-over spell in the morning that sent him from the field with cramp, led to three of them going with 80 runs still required. And then for the second time in the match, the tail did not just wag but put to shame the upper order.
Marshalled superbly by the grizzled wicket-keeper Brad Haddin, a man with two Ashes centuries to his name, and with a different No11 for company in James Pattinson, Australia got themselves within 15 runs of victory, before Anderson (it had to be) returned to the fray after lunch and took Haddin’s wicket for 71 to dismiss the tourists for 296 and spark the celebrations.
Inevitably in a game that had already had its controversies, there was one more to add. Haddin had driven at a well-pitched-up delivery from Anderson that beat the inside edge and went through low to Matt Prior, who immediately claimed the catch. Anderson appeared more reluctant to appeal and Aleem Dar ruled not out. Perhaps any noise had not carried to the bowler’s end.
Alastair Cook had little hesitation in putting his final review on the line (he had little to lose at that stage one might say, but it did seem to be done with conviction), and after some lengthy consideration, Marais Erasmus, the South African third umpire who has had a trying match, ruled that a combination of Hot Spot and noise from the stump mic suggested that Haddin had managed a thin inside edge, something later born out by the Snickometer. Trent Bridge was packed to the rafters, a fifth day sellout, and the crowd erupted as the England team engulfed Anderson.
Can there be anyone now who does not believe that Anderson is not only one of the finest England bowlers of his time, and one of the best in the world, but one of their finest ever? Haddin’s wicket, and the three earlier in the day, each to a catch by Cook at first slip during a spell of three for six in 24 balls, gave him figures of five for 73, and 10 for 158 in the match, the first such tally by an England bowler in an Ashes Test since Andy Caddick took 10 for 215 in Sydney in 2003, the best since Phil Tufnell took 11 for 93 at The Oval in 1997, and the best by a seamer since Richard Ellison’s 10 for 104 at Edgbaston in 1985.
Watch highlights of the morning session on day five
When push came to shove, Cook went to him and stayed with him. But he, above all the England bowlers, needs preserving carefully if he is to last all 10 Ashes Tests in the space of six months. In the circumstances it was only appropriate that the man-of-the-match award should go to him, which was hard on Ian Bell, whose finest innings for England will go unrecognised in that regard, and indeed Ashton Agar, without whose first-innings fairytale this Test would have fizzled out days ago.
This defeat, their fifth in as many Test matches, should lend heart to Australia, for they battled to the end and showed qualities that could sustain this series and the next into something memorable. They managed to take 20 England wickets but were let down by an abject failure to capitalise on the conditions on the first morning and – although it really should have no bearing on the outcome of the game as a statistic – Michael Clarke’s inability to come to terms with the strategy of using the decision review system, something in which England were demonstrably better.
On the back of nine reviews sought by Australia, only two resulted in a decision being overturned and, crucially, by the end of the 69th over of England’s second innings, less than halfway through as it transpired, they had none left. England managed to overturn three decisions out of four referrals and still had one in hand as the game came to its conclusion, a deciding factor in the outcome quite possibly.
Australia were also sustained by two last-wicket partnerships that gave them a combined total of 228 runs for two wickets (226 runs more than the combined total from their England counterparts) against 348 for 18 from the rest of the batting which remains flimsy. In the quality of their lower order they are beating England at what was once their own game.
Haddin played his hand superbly for nearly three and three-quarter hours. Against the old ball, he, and, at the start, Agar were content to defend knowing that the harder new ball, which England would be compelled to take, would come better on to the bat and get the score moving.
Yet Cook’s decision to take it two overs after it was due – earlier than he would have liked but necessary because of the softness of the old one – all but won the game for England, as in rapid succession he took catches to dismiss Agar, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle (the last one to a flying stunner of a snaffle), and in between times also dropping Siddle off Anderson as well.
A decision to replace Anderson, when he withdrew from the fray, with Steve Finn rather than Stuart Broad was flawed. Finn had bowled a good spell the previous evening but is lacking confidence or consistency and Haddin, sensing his fallibility, went for him: 24 runs came from two overs, all but four off the bowler, before Cook pulled him out of the attack and replaced him with Broad.
Pattinson, too, was playing with the same measure of accomplished ease as Agar had displayed in the first innings, hitting Graeme Swann for six. Gradually the partnership blossomed, the target came down and nails got shorter. Lunch came at a good time to regroup for England.
England did have their previous chances to finish the match, two of them, as the game drew towards its climax. With 29 runs still required, Haddin played the ball into the covers and set off for a quick single only to be sent back by Pattinson. Had Jonny Bairstow’s throw from extra-cover hit the stumps, Haddin would have been run out by a yard.
In the following over, Haddin swept Swann hard and low to the left of Finn at deep square-leg and although the fielder made good ground and got his hands comfortably to the ball in his dive, he failed to cling on. On such things can matches and series be decided.