Fri | May 26, 2017

England three wickets from regaining Ashes

Published:Saturday | August 8, 2015 | 8:00 AM
England’s five-wicket hero, Ben Stokes (centre), celebrates with teammates after dismissing Australia’s Mitchell Johnson. Johnson was caught by Alastair Cook for five during day two of the fourth Ashes Test cricket match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England, yesterday.

NOTTINGHAM, England (AP):

England was three wickets away from regaining the Ashes and completing Australia's humiliation at Trent Bridge after reducing the tourists to 241-7 by stumps on the second day of the fourth Test yesterday.

The Australians will resume needing 90 more runs just to make England bat again, having started their second innings 331 runs behind following England's positive declaration at 391-9.

Ben Stokes took 5-35 in Australia's second innings, with his first three dismissals coming in 13 deliveries to spark a collapse from 113-0 to 136-4 in a crazy 21-minute spell just before tea. It evoked memories of the first-innings meltdown when Australia was skittled for 60 and Stuart Broad took 8-15.

When captain Michael Clarke departed for 13 for another failure this series, Australia were on course to lose an Ashes Test inside two days for the first time in 125 years.

likely coronation

But Adam Voges and Peter Nevill dug in for a 50-run partnership, helping delay England's likely coronation until today unless there was a major surprise or weather came to Australia's rescue.

After Stokes removed Nevill (17) and Mitchell Johnson (5), Voges (48) and Mitchell Starc (0) were in the middle when bad light stopped play.

The English lead 2-1 in a five-match series they started as underdogs. If they seal victory in Nottingham, they will have won five of the last seven Ashes series and four straight at home.

The fact that Cook was happy to declare with less than 400 on the board, batting second, summed up the Australians' plight and was another ignominy in a Test they want to quickly forget.

Chris Rogers and David Warner initially put up decent resistance, although Rogers was given a reprieve after being caught on a no-ball, and Warner was dropped by both Cook and Ian Bell in the slips.

Stokes' second spell was lethal, this time from Radcliffe Road End, and he dismissed Rogers when a diving Joe Root took a one-handed catch at third slip.

That wicket kicked off a now-familiar batting disintegration. Warner attempted another short-arm pull and scooped a leading edge to Broad at mid-on, Shaun Marsh (2) prodded at a wide one by Stokes and edged it to Root, and Steve Smith (2) drove Broad to Stokes at short point.

Australia limped to tea having lost four wickets in 27 balls. Smith, the world's top-ranked batsman, had four consecutive single-figure scores for the first time in his Test career, with 26 runs in two matches since Australia's win at Lord's.

Soon after the interval, Clarke pushed hard at a full ball by Mark Wood. Cook fumbled at first slip, but managed to flick up the ball for Bell to take the catch next to him.

It left England a couple of hours to polish off Australia, but it didn't happen.