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The first three days of this Ashes series so far has produced some outstanding, at times unpredictable cricket and several momentum swingers. From Australia removing England for a measly 215 inside the first day, to a superb spell of bowling that saw Australia fall from 75-4 at the close of the first day’s play to 117-9 – trailing at that stage by 95 – to the incredible record breaking innings by debutant Ashton Agar who played brilliantly for his 98 batting at number 11 which helped Australia to 280 all out and a lead of 65.

England were wobbling too until Ian Bell and Stuart Broad (day three controversy aside when he should have been given out on 37 by umpire Aleem Dar) came to the crease hitting 109 and 65 respectively to guide England to 375 all out just before lunch on day four, setting Australia 311 to claim victory at Trent Bridge.

The hosts had resumed this morning on 326-6 – a lead of 261 – and it was first Stuart Broad who raised his bat aloft with a streaky four through the slip region that could of easily have been taken – that brought up his 10th fifty in Test Cricket.

It did not take Ian Bell much longer to add five to his overnight score as he became the first man in series to reach three-figures – and surely one of his best in an England shirt. Timely runs for a man who averaged only 18 against New Zealand in the spring, and someone who only made 25 in the first innings here .

Broad was removed shortly after however with a loose shot off the bowling of James Pattinson that carried through to Brad Haddin. Bell was then removed with a delivery by Mitchell Starc (3-81) that swung away at the last moment as he too was caught behind by wicket-keeper Haddin.

Graeme Swann’s eyes must have lit up at the prospect of bowling later on in the match on such a dry surface, but his time at the crease with the bat was to prove to be a brief one as he came and went for 9 having been caught by captain Michael Clarke off of the bowling of Peter Siddle.

James Anderson – who took a five wicket haul with a devastating spell of bowling on Thursday – then chipped one to mid-wicket off Peter Siddle who took 3-85 to leave England all out for 375.

The Australians undoubtedly will be aware that victory – despite the fact there is still a lot of time left in the game – will require something very very special. In fact the record scored successfully chased down at Trent Bridge was by England against New Zealand when they successfully chased down 284 to win back in 2004.

Australia have made a positive start to the run chase with both Shane Watson (18) and Chris Rogers (10) surviving before lunch as Australia reached 28-0 at the interval, requiring a further 283 to go 1-0 up in the five match series.

More to follow….

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