Australia, with victory in sight, collapsed from 120-1 to 224 all out in a crazy post-tea spell as England won the fourth Test by 74 runs to clinch the Ashes outright and go 3-0 up in the five-match series on Monday.
A pugnacious innings from David Warner (71) put Australia in complete control, but Tim Bresnan produced a peach of a delivery to remove the opener and that seemed to sap the tourists’ confidence as they lost eight wickets for 56 runs.
Stuart Broad (6-50) picked up his second five-wicket haul of the match with another dynamic burst of fast bowling as he and Bresnan (2-36) ripped the heart out of the Australian batting.
“That was a very special afternoon,” Broad told reporters. “We gathered ourselves at tea with Australia having won that session without doubt.”
“The great thing about this side is we have a lot of experience in the changing room. The guys put their heads together calmly and decided the best way forward,” he said.
“We needed to make the Aussies play off the front foot a little bit more,” Broad said. “Once we got the ball fuller we got the ball to move and we were massively in the game.”
With a drawn series meaning the holders keep the urn, England had retained the Ashes in the drawn third Test at Old Trafford, but were desperate to win them outright.
A thrilling game, in which the Durham wicket produced an even contest between bat and ball, ended in the gloom at 7:40pm after the umpires had fidgeted around with their light meters amid boos from the crowd.
With one wicket left to fall, Broad came back on to seal England’s third straight win in an Ashes series by removing Peter Siddle for 23.
England’s triumphant players gathered together in a huddle in the middle and danced up and down in joyous celebration.
It all looked so different a few hours earlier as Warner and first-innings century-maker Chris Rogers put together an opening stand of 109.
Rogers played the tortoise to Warner’s hare as the two left-handers, chasing a victory target of 299, carried the attack to England.
Warner hit several crunching strokes as he scored at almost twice the rate of his partner.
Rogers had two lucky escapes via the Decision Review System and was also dropped by Graeme Swann at second slip before the spinner finally had him caught low at first slip by Jonathan Trott for 49.
Warner, who welcomed Swann to the attack by lofting him over wide mid-on for six, continued to play with freedom when he was joined by Usman Khawaja.
Khawaja was trapped LBW by Swann for 21 before England captured the key wicket of Warner when he edged a brutish, lifting ball from Bresnan to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Broad then ran through the Australian order, removing captain Michael Clarke for 21, Steve Smith for 2, Brad Haddin for 4, Ryan Harris for 11 and Nathan Lyon for 8.
With play finishing later than normal following a 70-minute rain interruption earlier in the day, England briefly took the quicker bowlers off as the light deteriorated.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the gloom gave way to bright sunshine and that was the signal for Broad to deliver the coup de grace by having Siddle caught by Anderson at mid-off.
Asked if he felt like celebrating, England captain Alastair Cook replied: “Yeah, I think so. Nine wickets in a session, the crowd, the excitement and the nerves — it was the moment.”
“We are going to get greedy and try and repeat that at the Oval [in next week’s final Test], but we can think about that with sore heads tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll enjoy what is a very special day and one that I’m going to look back on with huge fondness.”
Earlier, the home team were bowled out for 330 in their second innings, with in-form Ian Bell hitting 113 and Australia paceman Ryan Harris taking seven wickets for the first time in his Test career.
Clarke was in disconsolate mood when he looked back at the day’s play.
“A lot of things are hard to swallow at the moment,” he said. “Obviously our middle order find different ways to get out which is extremely disappointing, but I have to pay credit to Stuart Broad — I think his performance was exceptional.”