England survived a superb Shane Warne spell to win the fourth Test against Australia and go 2-1 up in the Ashes in a dramatic finale at Trent Bridge…
Set a modest 129 to win, after Australia made 387 following-on, England collapsed to 57 for four as legendary leg-spinner Warne took three wickets for seven runs in 29 balls.
That soon became 116 for seven before Ashley Giles (seven not out) and Matthew Hoggard (eight not out) saw England home, with Giles clipping Warne legside for the winning runs.
Warne, who bowled unchanged, finished with four for 31 from 13.5 overs while Brett Lee finished with 3-51.
Victory, with more than a day to spare, left England ahead in the five-match encounter with just next month’s final Test at The Oval to come and meant they’d ended a run of eight successive series defeats against Australia.
But Australia could still retain the Ashes with a win in London.
"There were plenty of nerves in the dressing room," admitted England skipper Michael Vaughan.
"It was an epic match and it shows what this series has been all about. We managed to get over the finish line and now we have to make sure we go to The Oval in our best form.
"I’m sure that, like the three previous matches, it will be a nailbiting affair."
Australian skipper Ricky Ponting admitted that his side have a lot of work to do despite the fine efforts of Warne and Lee on Sunday.
"We have a lot of work to do and we have to improve our batting. We are just staying in the game and we hope to rectify that next time.
"We had our backs against the wall and we just couldn’t get the wickets we needed."
England, whose first innings total of 477 was built around a sixth-wicket stand of 177 between man of the match Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones, saw the duo take them close to the winning post before Flintoff was bowled by a superb Lee delivery for 26.
At 111 for six, England were still far from home and there was another twist in the tail when Jones, in a moment of rashness, tried to hit Warne over the top only to hole out to Michael Kasprowicz at mid-off for three.
That left England still a tantalising 13 runs short of their target.
Then a no-ball from Lee left England 10 shy.
Hoggard, to the delight of the capacity crowd, then struck a Lee full toss to the cover boundary to leave England four away before Giles finished the job.
England, who last won an Ashes series in 1986-87, were facing an attack minus fast bowler Glenn McGrath, missing from this match with a right elbow injury.
And with Australia captain Ricky Ponting attacking England, whose first innings featured Flintoff’s maiden Ashes hundred of 102, took 19 runs off Kasprowicz’s first two overs.
That saw Ponting introduce Warne with England 32 without loss after five overs and he struck first ball when Marcus Trescothick was caught at silly point by the Aussie skipper for 27.
Warne then captured the prize wicket of Michael Vaughan for nought, the England captain edging a sharp leg-break to Matthew Hayden at first slip.
Vaughan’s side were now 36 for two and Warne, England’s nemesis for the last 12 years, then had opener Andrew Strauss, on 23, caught low down by leg-slip Michael Clarke.
Strauss stood his ground before the third umpire gave him out and two balls later England were 57 for four after Ian Bell (three) hooked paceman Lee to Kasprowicz at fine leg.
England’s slump was reminiscent of Australia’s at the famed 1981 Headingley Test where, chasing 130, the tourists were dismissed for 111 in an 18-run loss.
Lee, after taking one for 35 from eight overs, was replaced by debutant fast bowler Shaun Tait.
But after a Tait spell of four overs for 24 runs, Lee returned and his first ball back saw Kevin Pietersen caught behind by Gilchrist for 23 to end a stand of 46 with Flintoff.
Earlier, Hoggard took two wickets either side of lunch to reduce Australia to 277 for six, a lead of just 18, after Clarke and Simon Katich shared a grafting stand of exactly 100 in nearly 50 overs.
Crucially, the Yorkshire swing bowler then had dangerman Gilchrist lbw for 11.
Katich completed a painstaking 160-ball fifty but on 59 he was LBW to fast bowler Stephen Harmison.
However, 314 for seven should have become 314 for eight when Lee, who made a dashing 47 in Australia’s first innings 218, was dropped on nought by diving keeper Jones when the ball was heading to Trescothick at first slip.
And Lee, still yet to score, saw the Kent gloveman give him another life by knocking the bails off the stumps before Strauss’s throw from point hit.
But Jones, in the side for the batting that saw him score 85 in the first innings but whose error-strewn keeping has been much criticised, did finish with four dismissals in the innings including stumping Warne for 45 off Giles.
Durham quick Harmison, (three for 93) ended Australia’s reply by bowling Tait, walking across his stumps, for four. Lee was 26 not out.
Australia resumed Sunday on 222 for four, 37 behind.
England were handicapped by the loss of fast bowler Simon Jones who sustained an ankle injury after taking five for 44 Saturday as Australia were made to follow-on, something they’d not experienced for 191 Tests since losing to Pakistan by an innings and 188 runs in Karachi in 1988.