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Stuart Broad steers England to the brink of Ashes joy

By Stephen Brenkley

There are moments in sporting contests when events unfold in a manner which defies belief. It has become the fashion to suggest in the modern era that this, that and the other fairly commonplace occurrences are the greatest that man has ever witnessed.

What happened in the morning here at Trent Bridge yesterday was remarkable by any standards. Its like had truly not been seen before.

In 18.3 overs which spanned 94 minutes, Australia were dismissed for 60 in the fourth Investec Test.

It was the shortest first innings of a match in Test history, in all 2,174 of them. During it the Ashes were virtually surrendered and by the end of a startling opening day that all but became a certainty.

Stuart Broad took 8 for 15 in 9.3 overs of controlled, smart seam bowling which recognised the conditions on offer and took the fullest advantage of them.

The first of his haul, with the third ball of the match, made him the fifth England bowler to 300 Test wickets, the last of them, with the 111th, brought him level on 307 with the great Fred Trueman, who was the first to achieve the landmark.

Broad said: "We held our composure quite well out there.

"At 10 for three it would have been quite easy to get greedy and try to bowl magic balls, but the talk out there was encouraging the bowlers to stay patient because it would happen for us.

"We've just had a quick chat in the changing room about enjoying the moment now, but when we come here tomorrow we've still got a big job to do because Australia will fight back hard. We've still got a lot of work to do and the game's not over yet."

Such potency, with accurate, intelligent support from the other end, made light of the absence of the totemic Jimmy Anderson.

Handed the role as leader of the attack, Broad seized the moment and found that he was abetted by batsmen unwilling or unable to play on an alien surface.

Australia had not seen anything like this, oh, since the previous Test in Birmingham less than a week ago. They had learned nothing.

By the close, England had established a lead of 214. In doing so, they lost four wickets of their own. But Joe Root, who is rapidly emerging as a giant among batsmen, made a sublime 124 not out from 158 balls and he shared a partnership of 173 with his Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow who was out in a moment of unexpected carelessness shortly before the end.

It was Root's eighth Test hundred, his second of the series, his third against Australia. There was a rare assurance about his work that bespoke a man on the top of his game.

When Yorkshire are strong, England are strong may be a hackneyed observation but down the ages it has usually also been true. Yorkshire are the outstanding emblem of the northern powerhouse and England are benefiting from it.

On Australia's route to disaster, it was perhaps their misfortune that everything they pushed at, or prodded at, or sparred at, or fenced at took the edge of their bats.

There was barely any playing and missing from the moment two minutes into the day that Chris Rogers touched a ball that seamed away from him and ended up in the hands of Alastair Cook at first slip.

With the match fewer than 10 overs old Australia had lost their first seven batsmen, five of them to Broad at that stage, who thus took the quickest five-wicket haul from the beginning of a Test, the first before lunch for England since Sydney Barnes in 1913. To say that he felt at home on his home ground was perhaps an understatement.

Despite the striking contributions at Edgbaston of Anderson and Steve Finn, Broad has regularly been the most impressive of England's bowlers in this campaign. To suggest that he was threatening to do something like this may be a stretch - 8 for 15 in a session is the stuff of fantasy - but it was clear that at some stage in this series he was likely to make a decisive intervention.

Cook won the toss and resistance came only fleetingly.

The Ashes should be home tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph

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