Electric England blow Australia away
Stuart Broad supplied the inspiration as England dismantled Australia to seize control of the decisive final Ashes Test at the Brit Oval.
The all-rounder produced the finest, and most important, spell of his career to help bowl Australia out for a paltry 160 in front of a jubilant crowd.
He claimed five wickets for 19 runs in 7.5 overs, sparking a collapse that saw 10 wickets tumble for just 99 runs on a pulsating day which threatens to define the outcome of the series.
Though England lost Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood in extending their advantage, which stood at 172 after the first innings, to 230, there can little doubt that the hosts can harbour realistic hopes of winning the match and the Ashes.
Broad bowled unchanged for all but one over of the second session, the key wickets of Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke coming during a blistering burst of 21 balls which altered the complexion of an enthralling contest.
He finished with 5-37 - his second successive five-wicket haul - while off-spinner Graeme Swann capitalised on a surface which continues to deteriorate to take 4-38, the standout performances in an England display that surpassed expectation and almost defied belief.
Watson and Simon Katich had coped admirably with the occasional vagaries in bounce, surviving for the majority of the morning session after Australia had mopped up the England tail this morning.
But Broad’s intervention ended any notion of a sizeable first-innings total as Australia slumped from 73 without loss to a below-par total which threatens to undermine their chances of retaining the urn.
He broke an ominous opening stand when he trapped Watson lbw, and brought the crowd to their feet by removing Ponting, Hussey and Clarke in successive overs.
Brad Haddin’s stumps were rearranged by a wonderful outswinger after Swann had accounted for Marcus North and Simon Katich, who made an obdurate 50, and the spinner continued to prosper on as helpful a second-day surface as he is likely to find.
Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark and Ben Hilfenhaus offered minimal resistance, and Australia were thankful for a doughty unbeaten 26 from Peter Siddle, one of only four double-figure contributions on a sorry looking scorecard.
The tourists had, in fact, enjoyed a profitable morning’s work, claiming the last two England wickets inside half an hour to bowl them out for 332.
James Anderson fell for his first duck in Test cricket after 45 innings, Broad added just nine to his overnight 26, and Watson and Katich survived the best the home attack could throw at them before the interval.
Watson drove fluently and Katich accumulated unfussily off his legs, but the rain which forced lunch to be taken slightly earlier than scheduled and delayed the resumption by almost an hour, unquestionably worked to England’s advantage.
Broad, brought on to replace Swann, finally won an lbw verdict against Watson, who was trapped on the crease for 34, before Ponting played on to a delivery which jagged back sharply.
Hussey also succumbed to movement back in off the seam - he was late on a forward lunge and struck in front of off stump - and Clarke, the leading run-scorer in the series, drove to short cover, where Jonathan Trott took a smart low catch.
If Andrew Strauss’ decision to replace Swann with Broad immediately after lunch proved inspired, so too did the introduction of Swann at the Pavilion End.
He needed just three deliveries to find a way through North’s defence - he was adjudged lbw on the back foot despite the hint of an inside edge - and found sufficient bounce in his next over to have Katich taken at short-leg by Cook via inside edge and pad.
The sight of Haddin’s stumps splayed as he tried to work Broad to leg was a fitting image on an afternoon of almost unfettered England dominance, and there was still time for Swann to find Johnson’s edge to cap a marvellously entertaining session.
Clark became a second bat-pad victim for Swann, who was denied the chance of a five-wicket haul of his own when Andrew Flintoff pegged back Hilfenhaus’ leg stump.
North belied his status as a part-time off-spinner to locate Cook’s outside edge in the 13th over of England's second innings, and Katich once again showed superb reactions to catch Bell at short-leg as he worked the ball off his hip.
When Collingwood fended one of many Johnson bouncers to Katich, England were wobbling on 39 for three, but Trott demonstrated his composure by accompanying the impervious Strauss through to the close.
Please note: there are London Underground weekend engineering works that may affect your journey to the Brit Oval on days 3/4 of the Test - for the latest information see the Tfl website