Tourists sent packing

England took a giant step towards regaining the Ashes for the first time in 19 years at Trent Bridge over the weekend. Despite a rain affected first day, Trescothick and Strauss combined for a century opening stand, Vaughan adding a further 58 runs as the hosts ended on 229-4.

Pietersen went for 45 as play resumed on Friday but Andrew Freddy Flintoff, the Beefy Botham of our time, stood firm, smashing his way to a spectacular 102. Geraint Jones weighed in with a huge 85 and England reached a commanding first innings total of 477.

Matthew Hoggard then reduced the Aussies’ run makers, removing Langer, Hayden and Martyn from the top order for only 35. Simon Jones followed up with England rampant, taking out Ponting before decimating the tail-enders, finishing with five wickets to his name. Australia were all out for 218, suffering the humiliation of having to follow on. By the time the light went, the cowed tourists had reached 222-4, still 37 runs behind England’s first innings total. Flintoff, instrumental in restricting the Australians, claimed the scalps of Hayden and Martyn.

On Sunday, Australia’s batting had a more composed look about it. 276-6 by early afternoon was turned into a respectable 387 all out by tea. This left England with what looked to be the simple task of making 129 to win. The stroll in the park turned into yet another cliffhanger, however. 90-4 still looked safe, 116-7 half an hour later certainly did not.

Shane Warne was weaving his magic, taking wickets at will, to leave only Flintoff to defy the onslaught but even he could not weather the storm. That left Giles and Hoggard with the task of somehow dodging the bullets to get from 116-7 to 129 and thus victory. Hoggard hit a brave four, leaving only four to win. Hoggard got two and Giles made the vital, final runs to secure a famous win over the old enemy. England now lead the series. The fifth and final Test will be played at the Oval from September 8-12.