England secured a third consecutive Ashes series win for the first time in 32 years following a stunning Australia collapse late on day four of the fourth Investec Test at Chester-le-Street.
Australia lost nine wickets in an elongated final session, after initially seemingly well-placed in their pursuit of 299, before Stuart Broad (six wickets for 50 runs) removed last man Peter Siddle in descending gloom at 7.41pm. Broad, who completed a second ten-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.
It meant England moved into an assailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series.
Bresnan triggered the collapse when he found extra bounce to catch the edge of dangerman David Warner (71), who had combined in the first century opening stand of the series – by either side – with Chris Rogers (49). Australia, who were 120 for one at tea, were still seemingly favourites when Warner was third man out at 5.26pm with 131 required.
But when Broad bowled skipper Michael Clarke with a peach of a delivery with the first ball after the final drinks break, Australia began their slump towards defeat. In a mad half-hour Bresnan and Broad dismissed Clarke, Steven Smith, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin to expose the tail.
Australia’s bowlers held on long enough to take the game into an extra half-hour, and at one time force England to bowl their spinners as the light faded, before Broad returned to have Siddle caught by James Anderson at mid-off.
Earlier, England lost their final five wickets in the opening 90 minutes but, more critically, added 96 runs in 21.1 overs.
Ryan Harris’ Test-best figures of seven for 113 put the clamps on an England tail that was in a hurry this morning.
Nightwatchman Bresnan (45) led the heavy hitting after Harris removed overnight centurion Ian Bell (113) and Matt Prior from successive balls with the lead at 219.
But Bresnan, with the help of Graeme Swann (30 not out), went on the attack before England were bowled out for 330.
On a surface with plenty of tricks in it, Australia seemed sure to face a tough task batting last as they try to stay in with a chance of levelling the score in these last two matches. But first-innings centurion Rogers and Warner gave them a major confidence boost with a stand of 109.
Rogers needed his fair share of fortune and, between the scores of three and 14, had four various scares.
He escaped a James Anderson review for lbw, then overturned another, looped a short delivery just short of Broad in his follow-through and was then dropped by Graeme Swann – diving to his right from second slip in front of first. The last scrape was an uncanny repeat of a near identical incident in the first innings, with Bresnan rather than Broad the bowler this time.
Warner (57no) completed his half-century from 74 balls when he timed Bresnan away off the back foot past cover for his eighth four to go with a six struck high over wide long-off from only the third ball bowled by England’s danger man Swann.
Rogers appeared set to follow his partner to 50 until he was caught at slip, one run short, when Swann got one to grip.
Harris had taken two wickets in two balls this morning, but Bresnan’s telling counter-attack helped England add a combined 66 for the eighth and ninth wickets.
Harris saw off first Ian Bell and then the out-of-form Matt Prior for a golden duck.
Both were bowled, Bell (113) off an inside-edge as he tried in vain to jam down on a delivery which kept devilishly low from a good length and Prior unluckily off his elbow.
Bresnan responded, however, with a sudden rush of boundaries – striking three in succession off Jackson Bird as 60 runs, and three wickets, came in the first ten overs of the second new ball.
Australia finally managed to finish off the furiously wagging tail but a last-innings chase of 299 looked very testing. Warner and Rogers raised the visitors’ hope but all too briefly.
Meanwhile, Graham Onions, England’s 12th man in Test, will miss the final match at The Oval next week because of a broken finger.
The paceman sustained the injury while playing for Durham in a one-day game against Scotland on Sunday, his club said. Onions broke the little finger on his bowling hand while trying to take a return catch.