England clinched victory in the opening Ashes Test by only 14 runs on an unendurably intense final day at Trent Bridge.
Brad Haddin best efforts couldn’t take the tourist over the winning line as James Anderson claimed figures of 5-73 in the Australian second innings and equalled his match tally to ten wickets, setting the tourists a target of 311 which was mostly down to Broad and Bell’s stand of 138 on day four.
After electing to bat first on the first day, Alaistair Cook and Joe Root began the innings well after playing the opening nine overs calmly without any rash shots. James Pattinson bowled a wayward bouncer which was rightly given wide by the umpire to get the series off and running, however he was soon back in the action when Cook edged him behind to wicket-keeper Haddin.
Jonathon Trott came out taking the fight to the Australian bowlers, hitting Peter Siddle and debutant Ashton Agar for consecutive boundaries. Root also looked assured as the pair scored a 51-run partnership before Siddle bowled him out with a swinging yorker for 30, England reached 98-2 at lunch on day one.
Trott (48) played a reckless drive to deflect the ball back onto his stumps and Siddle had Kevin Pietersen caught at second slip for 14. Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow revived the England innings with a counter-attacking stand of 54, Bell fell caught at first slip and Siddle (5-50) claimed his fifth wicket when Matt Prior slapped the ball to point leaving England in trouble on 180-6.
After tea, England lost their final three wickets for two runs as they collapsed from 213-7 to 215-all out. James Anderson survived a hat-trick ball from Mitchell Starc (2-54) and Graeme Swann tamely chipped the ball to cover at the close of the innings.
In reply, Steve Finn had Shane Watson caught at slip and Ed Cowan in successive deliveries. Anderson also picked up two wickets Chris Rodgers first judged lbw and clean bowled Michael Clarke with an inswinging delivery leaving the Aussies 75-4 at the close of the opening day.
On day two it was all about one man, the Aussies Agar, who posted the highest score by a number 11 in test history. Earlier in the morning, Australia added 33 quick runs taking the score to 108 and Steve Smith reached 50 off 72 balls.
Anderson struck with the first dismissal of the day as Smith nicked behind which ignited a collapse. Swann bowled out Haddin, Siddle and Starc were both caught behind giving Anderson (5-85) two more wickets and after Pattinson’s fall the Aussies were 117-9 from 113-6 leaving them still 98 runs behind with only the last wicket remaining.
The fearless youngster Agar scored a brilliant 98 from 101 balls, facing a scare on six didn’t affect him as he struck two straight maximums off Swann and he pulled the ball really well.
His last-wicket stand with Phil Hughes (81 not out) was worth 163 the highest in test history and Australia reached 280 giving them a lead of 65.
Starc removed Root and Trott early in England’s second innings putting the Aussies in control at tea with England 11-2. Trott’s wicket provided a real taking point as umpire Marais Erasmus overturned Aleem Dar’s on field call and replays on HotSpot showed a clear edge off the bat.
Cook and Pietersen batted out the day with care through the evening session steering the hosts to 80-2 and a lead of just 15.
Pieterson started day three aggressively, driving an overpitched delivery by Starc to the boundary to reach his fifty and it was his fourth boundary in the opening half an hour. Once Pietersen and Cook’s partnership reached the hundred mark Pietersen (64) was bowled when he diverted the ball onto his own stumps off Pattinson.
Cook followed Pietersen soon after as Agar’s brilliant debut continued making Cook his first Test victim a turning ball caught the edge of the England skipper’s bat which Clarke took with a fine diving catch.
At lunch England finished 137-4, after the break Agar had Bairstow caught behind for 15 leaving England 174-5 with a lead of just 109.
Just as England were gaining control Siddle dismissed Prior, however Bell took the sting out of the Aussie bowling line-up and with Broad riding his luck a strong stand developed in the middle.
By stumps, Broad closed onto his 13th half-century and the stand of 126 helped the hosts to 326-6.
Bell on 95 overnight, reached his 18th Test hundred in the opening minutes of day four. Starc’s wayward delivery went for five no-balls and a mis-field saw Bell get to his second ton against Australia.
After reaching his 50, Broad fell to Pattinson and Bell’s (109) long innings finally came to an end when he edged Starc behind to Haddin.
Siddle dismissed Anderson and Swann to close the England innings on 375 and in reply Australia reached 28-0 at lunch.
The Aussies opening stand reached 84 before Broad had Watson (46) leg before and Ed Cowan, for just 13, gave Root his maiden Test wicket.
Rodgers fell to Anderson for 52 which left England in command at 124-3, but a 40-run partnership from Clarke and Smith looked to put the tourists in a good chasing position.
Broad struck to send the big man Clarke back to the pavilion after Prior held a catch behind which Dar gave out but Clarke reviewed the decision but it wasn’t to be his saviour.
Swann put Australia in a spin before the close as Smith and Hughes were both sent packing leaving them on 174-6.
Agar (14) the hero of the first innings put on 43 with Haddin, before Anderson already into his eighth over of the day had him caught at slip by captain Cook.
In the next over Anderson had Starc for 1 and after Cook dropped Siddle he then held onto a stunner as Cook and Anderson combined for the third time on the final morning leaving the score 231-9.
Haddin opened up his shoulders just before the lunch break smashing Swann for a boundary and he hit Finn for 15 runs in one over and Pattinson joined in the fun hitting Swann over the top.
Haddin reached his 11th fifty and a 70 run stand on the final wicket assured the crowd at Nottingham was in for a thrilling finale as Australia needed another 20 runs with one wicket remaining.
After lunch the Aussies could only manage five runs as Anderson had Haddin (71) caught behind which was then reviewed and given out by the third umpire and this meant England squeezed over the line by just 14 runs.
The much-anticipated first Ashes Test reached the heights of the intensity that is expected when these two huge rivals meet on the cricket field.
This heated contest continues rapidly as England and Australia play the Second Test on Thursday at Lord’s.