Ryan Harris took his Test-best figures, but Australia were still set a target of 299 to win the fourth Ashes Test against England on the fourth day in Chester-le-Street yesterday.
Queensland fast bowler Harris led Australia’s attack with seven wickets for 117 runs in 28 overs, taking four for 43 with the new ball yesterday after reducing England to 49-3 on Sunday.
His figures, in his 15th Test, surpassed the 33-year-old’s previous innings best at this level of six for 47 against England in Perth, Australia, in 2010.
Although Ian Bell could only add eight to his overnight 105, England’s second innings total of 330 all out was bolstered by Tim Bresnan’s dashing 45 and Graeme Swann’s quickfire 30 not out, made at better than a run a ball.
Australia, who at 2-0 down had already failed to regain the Ashes, were 11-0 at lunch.
First-innings century-maker Chris Rogers was 5 not out and fellow left-hander David Warner 2 not out.
By that stage England had already wasted a review when James Anderson, appealing for leg before wicket, challenged a not-out decision against Rogers when the ball had pitched outside leg stump.
England resumed on 234-5 yesterday, a lead of 202 runs, with Bell 105 not out after completing his 20th Test century and third of the series. None of Bell’s 19 previous Test centuries had been made in a losing cause (13 wins and six draws).
Nightwatchman Bresnan was 4 not out.
Australia took the new ball as soon as they could, with England 250-5 off 80 overs, and it was not long before England were 251-7 with Harris taking two wickets in two balls.
A good length delivery that jagged back and kept low saw Bell bowled off the inside-edge for 113, his highest score of the series after he made 109 in both England’s wins at Trent Bridge and at Lord’s, to end a near five-hour innings of 210 balls with 11 fours.
Then the increasingly variable bounce in the pitch saw wicketkeeper Prior bowled off his elbow for a duck by Harris.
Stuart Broad survived the hat-trick and next ball the left-handed batsman guided Harris behind point for four.
It was the start of a flurry of boundaries interrupted when Harris’ well-directed bouncer had Broad out fending to Steven Smith in the gully.
The pick of Bresnan’s fours came when, giving himself room, he slammed Harris off the back foot through cover-point.
Swann then cover-drove his second ball, from paceman Peter Siddle, for four.
Bresnan’s 90-ball innings featuring six fours ended when he checked a drive and gave a return catch to Harris.
Swann, to the joy of the crowd, was reprieved when Smith dropped a routine catch at long-on off Nathan Lyon’s bowling, before the off-spinner, who finished with three for 55, had Anderson caught behind to end the innings.