England lead the 2013 Ashes series 1-0 after overcoming Australia on the final day of the first Test at Trent Bridge.
Alistair Cook and his men sealed a tense and nervy 14 run success just after the lunch break following a gripping morning session that saw Australia fight to within reach of the 311 target that they required for a famous victory.
Resuming on 174/6, it looked highly unlikely that the tourists would be able to turn things around but they found themselves in a much better position after an hour thanks to Brad Haddin and first innings hero Ashton Agar, who was moved up to number eight in the order as a result of his stunning 98 on Thursday.
After frustrating the hosts well, the seventh wicket partnership was at 43 when Agar bit the dust for 14, the youngster jabbing a catch into Cook in the slips from yet another potent James Anderson delivery.
Haddin reached fifty for the eleventh time in his Test career to keep the Aussies creeping closer but Anderson maintained a fierce counter attack by claiming the wickets of Mitchell Starc (1) and Peter Siddle (11) who were both caught again by Cook – who began to sense triumph with only one wicket left to take.
Remarkably however, Australia pulled out yet another amazing last wicket stand as Haddin and James Pattinson hit a swift 50 in just 46 balls to leave only 28 runs needed for a major reversal.
But shortly after lunch, England struck the killer blow and it was Anderson once more who produced the goods.
The 30-year-old, who earned a warranted man of the match for his final figures of 10-158, seemed to find the edge of Haddin’s bat but umpire Aleem Dar deemed the ball to have gone straight through to the gloves of wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
However after appeal to the third umpire, video evidence clearly showed a knick and to most people’s surprise, the contest was finally over after five thrilling days of action.
Haddin, who finished the innings on 71, will have been disappointed at his dismissal after coming so close but he will be credited overall for anchoring Australia back into the match with two solid innings.
The final ball will pile yet more pressure on official Dar however who has already come under much criticism from pundits following his recent mistakes which included the ‘is he or isn’t he’ moment involving Stuart Broad on the opening day.
For England, it was always going to be crucial to secure the first test harbouring the favourites tag, a rare thing for them in Ashes series’ and they will now be confident of kicking on going into the second Test at Lords which begins in earnest on Thursday July 18.
Australia are, nevertheless, likely to take a lot of positives from the performances of Messrs Agar and Haddin and will feel that they can square up the series with an improved batting display in London.