AN explosive bowling display from Stuart Broad saw England record a historic series win in the first Ashes Test at Durham’s Emirates ICG.
A thrilling final session saw Australia capitulate from a position of command to a stunning failure.
And Broad was the catalyst behind as exciting an end to a Test match as you are ever likely to see.
At 120-1 at tea, Australia seemed well set for victory, with England struggling for a breakthrough.
Yet they somehow turned up the heat to claim a third consecutive Ashes series win for the first time in 32 years.
Broad, who completed a second 10-wicket haul of his career, and Tim Bresnan did all of the late damage as Australia were bowled out for 224 to seal a 74-run win.
David Warner (71) and Chris Rogers (49) combined for the first century opening stand of the series – by either side – before the latter was caught by Jonathan Trott off the bowling of Graeme Swann.
Swann also claimed the scalp of Usman Khawaja, and when Tim Bresnan struck to remove the dangerous Warner, the tourists still needed just 131 to win.
But Warner’s departure was to signal the start of a major Australian collapse under Broad’s assault.
The paceman produced a wonderful delivery to bowl Aussie skipper Michael Clarke with the first ball after the final drinks break.
After that, wickets continued to fall with alarming regularity for the visitors.
And Broad, who took six wickets for 50 runs in that dramatic last session, was delighted after what he admitted was an ‘amazing’ experience.
He said: “I just found a rhythm at that end. I had the wind helping me get the ball moving away from the right-hander.
“I just wanted to be more aggressive, I think we lacked a bit of intensity in the middle and Cookie (captain Alastair Cook) threw me the ball said ‘let’s spice it up a bit’.
“Bres (Bresnan) and I got a good partnership going, hitting the wicket as hard as we could.
“‘In’ batsmen scored well, but it was hard to start on there and once we got a wicket, we could put pressure on the Australia batsmen.”
England claimed the extra half-hour available at the end of the day, and turned to spin for a short spell to avoid having to leave the field for bad light.
Lady Luck smiled slightly as the clouds cleared long enough for Jimmy Anderson and Broad to return to the attack.
Broad said: “At the end there, we prayed for a little bit of sunshine and it worked well for us.”
England skipper Alastair Cook paid tribute to his side for their fighting qualities and admitted he was still coming to terms with being an Ashes-winning captain.
He said: “It still hasn’t sunk in. Since I took over about 12 months ago, I wondered what it would be like to win an Ashes series as captain.
“Maybe that’s a little bit selfish, but it’s because of the players that I have been able to do and it is a real honour to do so.”
Speaking about Broad’s heroics, Cook said: “It was a great spell, he turned the game on its head.
“I can’t praise him enough, words can’t really do it justice. When he gets it totally right like that, he’s very hard to play.”
There was also praise for Ian Bell (113), who took his tally for the series to more than 500 runs, and Tim Bresnan, who hit 45 as nightwatchman.
Ryan Harris’ was the star of the show for the Aussies, recording Test-best figures of 7-113, as England were bowled out early yesterday for 330 – a lead of 299.
That looked at one point like it might not be enough, but then Broad took centre stage to condemn Clarke’s side to a morale-sapping 74-run defeat.
England’s heroes – how they rated
ALASTAIR COOK - Three half-centuries in eight innings are short of his usual ultra-reliable output. Cook has not had to take too many chances with his captaincy, but has made few mistakes either. 7
JOE ROOT - Mixed returns at the start of his career as a Test opener. His 180 at Lord’s was outstanding, but came after a stroke of good fortune when he edged between wicketkeeper and slip on just eight. He would have had a paltry Ashes without that innings, but his temperament and technique suggest he will be around for a while. 6
JONATHAN TROTT - Ducks at both Trent Bridge and Lord’s were followed by two failures in Manchester. What came in between and afterwards suggests Trott remains in good form, but he has not made the runs expected this summer. 5
KEVIN PIETERSEN - A poor Lord’s Test, and ongoing physical frailties, contributed to the gathering theory that England can perhaps get by without their game-changer these days. But Pietersen’s first-innings century at Emirates Old Trafford was a triumph of will to disprove the doubters. 7
IAN BELL (pictured) - England’s form batsman. Bell’s technique is always a class apart, and he has made it count with three centuries - as well as twice putting even Pietersen in the shade during their stands in Manchester and Durham. 9
JONNY BAIRSTOW - His runscoring is approaching par from number six. There is still something unconvincing about Bairstow’s batting at present, but he looked a little more assured in the second innings in Durham. 6
MATT PRIOR - England’s player-of-the-year has had a lean time with the bat, and a few slips with the gloves, since receiving that recognition. His record says he is expert at number seven, but he is badly out of form at present. 5
TIM BRESNAN - He replaced Finn to desired effect in England’s wide-margin Lord’s victory, digging in admirably as nightwatchman alongside Root. Australia still seem to think he might be the weak link with the ball. But Bresnan is a redoubtable competitor, and proved it in both disciplines in the fourth Test. 7
STUART BROAD - His rewards were hard-earned before Durham, but he was a match-winner there with two more of those irresistible spells on which his reputation has been made. Broad’s batting is hinting at a revival too. 8
GRAEME SWANN - Cashed in at Lord’s, and bagged another five in the first innings in Manchester. He was unplayable at neither, but England could not ask for too much more than his 23 wickets in the series so far. 8
JAMES ANDERSON - England’s most complete bowler was the difference between victory and defeat in a thrilling first Test, with his 10-wicket haul. Struggled on his home ground in Manchester, and again in Durham - but has still more than done his bit. 7
STEVEN FINN - His unexpected loss of form has been alarming this summer. Finn was on a hat-trick in the first innings at Trent Bridge, but what followed meant England were unable to pick him for his home Test a week later. 3