Stuart Broad's stunning late double leaves first Ashes Test on a knife edge ahead of mouthwatering final day | The Sun

STUART BROAD produced one of his incredible, inspirational bursts to keep alive England’s dream of winning this amazing First Test..

In the space of 13 balls, Broad dismissed Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith – ranked the No1 and No2 batsmen in the world.

Broad, making the ball swing and swerve through the air and urged on by a raucous crowd, had the pair caught behind by Jonny Bairstow.

 Knees pumping, conducting the Barmy Army singalong and with his white headband like a motif of battle, Broad was simply irresistible.

What a cricketer he still is – at the age of 37 next Saturday.

Broad’s double strike followed Ollie Robinson’s snaring of David Warner, also caught behind by Bairstow, who will be feeling a whole lot better than after his three costly errors in Australia’s first innings.


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The Aussies plunged from 61-0 to 89-3 and they even sent in bowler Scott Boland as nightwatchman.

Boland somehow edged and jumped his way to 13 not out and they could turn out to be crucial runs. The margins are that tight in this compelling contest.

Cricket miracles are chiselled into the history of Edgbaston and an England win would provide another outrageous slice of drama.

There are almost eerie similarities with the famous Ashes Test here in 2005. In both matches, a total of 407 runs were scored on the first day and now the Aussies were set 281 to win.

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That’s one more run than they needed 18 years ago when England prevailed by two runs.

Day four ended with Ben Stokes and his men needing to conjure seven more wickets and prevent Australia scoring the 174 runs they need.  

It is still pretty much an even call, partly because Moeen Ali’s blistered spinning finger is reducing his effectiveness on a turning pitch that should suit him.

On the other hand, there is rain forecast in the morning and the moisture and overcast conditions could help England’s seamers.

Three England batsmen – Joe Root, Harry Brook and Ben Stokes – reached the 40s in their second innings but none of them made it to fifty.

Their failure to crack on meant the Aussies needed 281 to win rather than something in excess of 300.

But Broad’s double intervention turned the game on its head just when Australia looked to be taking control.  

 On Sunday, England lost openers Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley during a tricky 22-ball spell in the gloom.

But any thought they would divert from their normal tactics disappeared immediately.

 From the very first ball of the day, Root attempted one of his reverse scoops off Pat Cummins. He missed that one but, undeterred, Root tried the shot twice more off Boland in the next over and middled both for a six and a four.

Ollie Pope was yorked by a ripper from Cummins but Brook, who never hangs around, took 13 runs from Nathan Lyon’s first over.

England were flying along but progress slowed after Root was stumped for the first time in his Test career. He was Lyon’s third stumping victim in the match.

Brook clipped a catch to mid-wicket when looking well set and Bairstow, after a shaky start, had put on 46 with Stokes when he was lbw attempting a reverse sweep.

Stokes was watchful at the start of his innings but upped the tempo after lunch. He still winced occasionally when pain shot through his knee and the agony increased considerably when he was lbw to the excellent Cummins.

Runs came all the way down England’s order with Moeen making 19, Robinson 27 and even Broad and Jimmy Anderson sharing a tenth-wicket stand of 17.

The Aussies were once more defensive with their fields, frequently placing five, six or even seven men on the boundary. 

But they will be happy with bowling out England for 273 on a lifeless pitch so captain Cummins will say his tactics were vindicated.

It was looking even better for Cummins and his team until Broad summoned up his skill and star quality with thrilling results.

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