Matthew Sherry at the Emirates Durham ICG
Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad basked in the glory of a “very special afternoon” following England’s dramatic victory at the Emirates Durham ICG that sealed a third successive Ashes triumph.
On a day of intoxicating excitement, England ultimately prevailed by 74 runs as Australia failed to chase 299 to keep their hopes of a series draw alive.
Broad was the star, producing a stunning spell in the evening session to claim 6-50 and dismiss the tourists, at one stage favourites having reached 147 for one, for 224.
Those efforts completed match figures of 11-121 and ensured England made it three consecutive wins over the old enemy for the first time since 1981.
"It was a very special afternoon,” said Broad. “Once we got one wicket the crowd got behind us and with that the team were really lifted.
“As players we have a real determination to win Ashes series. The guys are very proud in that dressing room; there is a group in there who have won three from three and there is a real hunger in there that you want to achieve more.”
Asked whether it felt like time to celebrate, his skipper Cook replied: “Yeah, I think so.
“Getting nine wickets in a session with the crowd, the excitement and the nerves (was a moment for celebration).”
The result means England find themselves in rare territory having already won the series with a game to spare – not that Cook is quite satisfied just yet.
“We are going to get greedy and try and repeat that at The Oval,” he said. “But we can think about that with sore heads tomorrow.
“We'll enjoy what is a very special day and one that I'm going to look back on with huge fondness.”
Unsurprisingly, Cook was full of praise for Broad, who once again showed a remarkable ability to turn a match in one thrilling spell.
“It was a fine spell of bowling,” said the captain. “That's probably not the right adjective either.
“As a captain and knowing how important how that session was; if we lost that session we would have been struggling.
“Broady knew that and the lads knew that. He really charged in. When everything clicks and he is bowling in the high 80s with the control Broady has, it's incredibly hard to bat.
“I said that against New Zealand when he got that seven-for at Lord's (earlier this summer).
“It was similar to that. Here was more important in terms of the situation of the game and in the Ashes. Words cannot justify how good a spell of bowling that was.”
The fast bowler’s intervention was certainly necessary, particularly after Australia openers David Warner and Chris Rogers put on 109 for the first wicket.
Questioned whether he was worried at any stage, Cook replied: “You go out wanting to put them under pressure and get a few early wickets but fair play to Chris and David.
“As we know, when you are chasing 300 runs in the last innings you have to keep the belief.
“If you put two wickets on the score it changes things very quickly and we did keep saying that. At one stage you are thinking is it ever going to happen.
“It was more that second wicket and we then had the two right-handers and the 'big man' here did his stuff.”
The big man certainly did, in an utterly enthralling couple of hours that nobody in attendance will ever forget.