Bell steers England to Ashes series lead over Oz
Ian Bell delighted a capacity crowd at his Warwickshire home ground with a sparkling unbeaten fifty as England beat Australia by eight wickets to win the third Test at Edgbaston on Friday. Victory, achieved with more than two days to spare, saw England go 2-1 up in the five-match Ashes series.
England, set a modest victory target of 121, finished on 124 for two after lunch on Friday’s third day.
Bell was 65 not out and Joe Root, who struck the winning boundary off Mitchell Marsh, 38 not out.
There was a moment of concern for England when captain Alastair Cook (seven) was bowled by a superb swinging delivery from left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc to leave the hosts seven for one.
But Bell, roared on by England fans in a sun-drenched crowd, then took charge with a flurry of four fours in seven balls off Starc, including one down the ground and a classic cover-drive.
Bell, arguably England’s most elegant batsman, then late cut off-spinner Nathan Lyon to the third man rope.
He was, however, given a reprieve on 20 when, with England 35 for one, he edged Starc to second slip only for Australia captain Michael Clarke to drop the two-handed catch.
It summed up a miserable match for Clarke, whose run of low scores in Tests continued with innings of 10 and three at Edgbaston. England opener Adam Lyth has also been struggling with the bat and when he was lbw to Josh Hazlewood’s inswinger for 12, it meant the hosts were now 51 for two.
Root, Lyth’s Yorkshire team-mate, showed few signs of nerves, however, in cutting his first ball, from Hazlewood, for four. Bell’s late-cut boundary off Starc saw him to his second fifty of the match, off 68 balls with seven fours.
It was a fine performance by the 33-year-old Bell, who came into this match -- his 113th Test -- with a question mark against his place after several meagre innings.