Ian Bell’s hundred left Australia having to rewrite the record books to win the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
Australia, at lunch on yesterday’s fourth day, were 28 without loss and needing a further 283 runs to reach their victory target of 311 after Bell’s 109 had been the cornerstone of Ashes-holders England’s second-innings 375.
No side has made more to win in the fourth innings of a Trent Bridge Test than England’s 284 for six against New Zealand in 2004.
James Anderson’s first ball of Australia’s second innings whistled past Shane Watson’s outside edge and Chris Rogers, on zero, nicked Stuart Broad just short of England captain Alastair Cook at first slip.
Both batsmen survived, with Watson 18 not out at lunch and Rogers unbeaten on 10.
Bell, 95 not out overnight, made 109 and shared a seventh-wicket stand of 138 with Broad (65) after the all-rounder was controversially given not out on Friday.
Broad enjoyed a massive slice of luck on 37 when experienced Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar ruled in his favor after Australia appealed for a catch by captain Michael Clarke at first slip off teenage debutant spinner Ashton Agar.
Broad stood his ground and, with Australia having used up their two permitted reviews in the innings, the tourists ultimately had to accept the verdict even though television replays showed a thick edge that came off the gloves of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to Clarke.
Bell, on 34, was given out by Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena after an LBW appeal by medium-pacer Shane Watson before successfully challenging the decision on review.
Apart from a tough diving chance dropped by Haddin off Peter Siddle when he was on 77, Bell batted near faultlessly on Friday after coming in with England effectively 56 for three following a first innings deficit of 65.
This innings, which saw him pass 6,000 runs in his 89th Test, was an especially important one for Bell as the 31-year-old Warwickshire right-hander, often accused of not scoring runs when England most need them, played arguably his best innings for his country.
Yesterday’s play started in extraordinary fashion when left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc bowled a beamer so wide it had Clarke in the slips jumping out of the way as Dar called a no-ball for a dangerous delivery.
Bell then steered a Starc full toss through gully for four to go to 99.
At the other end, left-handed batsman Broad completed a 124-ball fifty when he edged a drive off James Pattinson between Watson and Clarke in the slips for his sixth four.
Australia’s shoddy start yesterday continued when a misfield at point by Agar, who made 98, the highest score by a Test match No 11, in the tourists’ first innings, allowed Bell to scamper through for a single that saw him to his 18th Test hundred in 237 balls with 13 fours.
Broad was eventually out for 65 when he edged Pattinson to Haddin.
This time Broad, in for nearly three-and-a-half hours, walked off without waiting for the umpire’s verdict before Bell’s near six-and-a-half-hour innings ended when he was caught behind off Starc.