Cricket-Brilliant Broad gives England slight edge in Ashes thriller

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) -An inspired Stuart Broad revived England’s hopes of winning an enthralling opening Ashes test with a superb late burst just when Australia appeared to have taken the upper hand on Monday.

After bowling England out for 273 just before tea on a fluctuating fourth day, Australia set about their 281 victory target serenely but ended the day wobbling on 107 for three.

Australia’s openers David Warner and first innings centurion Usman Khawaja looked rock-solid, putting on 61, before Warner edged a beauty from Ollie Robinson having made a fluent 36.

With England off-spinner Moeen Ali struggling with a cut hand and the pitch offering little for the fast bowlers, Broad then returned for a scintillating second spell to swing the momentum back towards the hosts.

Whipping the raucous crowd into a frenzy, he had world number one test batsman Marnus Labuschagne caught behind for 13, having removed him for a duck in the first innings.

Steve Smith (6) then edged another swinging Broad delivery into the waiting gloves of England keeper Jonny Bairstow.

Khawaja, who scored his first century in England in the first innings, remained unbeaten at the close though on 34 with night watchman Scott Boland on 13 not out.

Rain is expected early on Tuesday before drier conditions and, with Australia requiring a further 174 runs and England needing seven wickets, a classic is brewing.

Broad, England’s second most successful test bowler behind team mate James Anderson, took three wickets in Australia’s first innings and returned to haunt the visitors who need the joint second-highest successful chase at Edgbaston to win.

A spellbinding four days now looks like having a fitting fifth-day climax with echoes of the 2005 Ashes test at Edgbaston when Australia fell three runs short of chasing down 282.

“Any time you have David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith back in the pavilion you are happy but it will be a thrilling day tomorrow,” Broad predicted.

“I was delighted to get (Smith) and Labuschagne because they average in the fifties, so when you are defending a gettable total it’s huge.”


England began the day precariously placed on 28 for two in their second innings after Sunday’s rain-shortened action, a slender lead of 35.

But instead of a cagey start, Joe Root immediately went into full ‘Bazball’ mode, attempting a reverse scoop off the first ball of the day bowled by Pat Cummins, missing it and seeing the ball whistle over his stumps, before breaking into a smile.

Root then reverse scooped Scott Boland for a four and an outrageous six in the next over before he pummelled a more conventional boundary as England went on the attack.

Initially bamboozled, Australia struck back with Cummins flattening Ollie Pope’s off stump with a superb inswinger to remove him for 14.

Root was joined by Harry Brook and they put on a swift 52 in 49 balls with Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s opening over of the day going for 14.

Lyon hit back though and deceived a charging Root who was stumped by wicketkeeper Alex Carey for 46 — the first time in 131 tests he had been dismissed that way.

Brook also fell four short of his half century, attempting to sweep Lyon through the leg side but only picking out Labuschagne who took a low catch.

England led by 162 runs at lunch and with Ben Stokes and Bairstow together they looked set for an afternoon onslaught which could have taken the game away from Australia.

After a fortuitous start in which they both survived DRS reviews, Stokes’s and Bairstow’s partnership moved to 46 before Bairstow (20) tried to sweep Lyon and was out lbw.

Cummins then angled a beauty into the pads of Stokes whose review of an lbw decision was futile.

Moeen (19) also got a good start but was out caught behind trying to swipe away a short Josh Hazlewood ball.

Robinson (27), Anderson (12) and Broad (10) then added more precious runs but with Lyon and Cummings taking four wickets apiece, the pendulum had swung Australia’s way.

They began their chase in textbook test fashion, punishing bad balls and offering few chances, but the late Broad show changed all that.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon)