Quick morning wickets and a superb ton from Ian Bell helped England turn the tide on Australia on day three of the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street.
The tourists resumed on 222/5 at the start of the morning session, 16 runs adrift of England’s first innings total of 238 and hopeful of potentially building a significant lead with Chris Rogers returning to the crease 101no alongside Brad Haddin.
It wasn’t long however before England began making their move and the Aussie wicketkeeper was removed for 13, bowled plum lbw by Swann who then also found the edge of Rogers’ bat to send the centurion packing for 110.
England’s seamers polished off the Australian tail, Stuart Broad finishing with a five wicket haul as Michael Clarke’s men had to settle for a 270 total and 32 run advantage going into the second innings.
A faltering start ensued for the hosts in reply, Joe Root (2) first helpless to defend a Ryan Harris belter that hit off stump, before skipper Cook was caught behind off the veteran pace man for 22.
Jonathan Trott became Harris’ third victim for just 14, leaving England toiling on 51/3, but their charge kick-started as soon as Bell and Kevin Pietersen met in the middle.
The pair have often enjoyed fruitful partnerships in Ashes Tests and they did so again here, adding a vital 106 runs to the home tally before Pietersen found himself caught by Rogers off Nathan Lyon for 44.
Bell continued to pile on the runs with Jonny Bairstow until the Yorkshire man also fell to Lyon for 28, however Bell maintained his composure to reach 100 much to the delight of the Durham crowd who sensed an England victory may now be on the cards after such a result looked unlikely during the first two days.
England finished on 234/5 at stumps, 202 runs ahead of Australia who will be eager to remove the hosts remaining five wickets as quickly as there’s fell on Sunday morning.
If they can do just that, all is still very much to play for in the 4th instalment of the series.