CARDIFF: Chasing an unlikely 412 to win, Australia lost four wickets for nine runs in 35 balls either side of lunch on the fourth day and were bowled out for 242 one hour after tea to hand out a 169-run win to England in the first Ashes Test played at Cardiff.
Stuart Broad was England’s inspiration, taking the wickets of three of Australia’s top four batsmen.
And, following a brief lower order rally, Joe Root showed his golden touch to take two of the last three wickets, including Mitchell Johnson for a spirited 77.
The win is a huge fillip for England, who lost the last Ashes series 5-0 down under and have only won one of their last five Test series.
Having been reduced to 43-3 on the first morning, they rebounded to produce four days of high-class, aggressive cricket in their first match under Australian coach Trevor Bayliss.
Australia, strong favourites to retain the Ashes before the series, now have only five days to recover and reassess their tactics before the second Test starts at Lord’s on Thursday.
After a relatively frustrating morning in which the ball flew repeatedly past the edge, England were contemplating going to lunch with only the wicket of Chris Rogers to show for their efforts.
But Alastair Cook’s decision to toss the ball to Moeen Ali for the final over before the interval proved to be a masterstroke.
David Warner, who had dismissively launched Moeen for six over mid-wicket in his previous spell, played around a ball that slid straight on and was out lbw for 52.
The wicket brought palpable relief to a jittery home crowd and dampened the growing optimism among the Aussie-supporting contingent.
Worse was to come for those in green and gold.
In the first over after lunch, Broad drew Steve Smith into an ugly poke away from his body, and for the second time in the match the world’s number one Test batsman was out for 33.
As England’s relentless accuracy dried up Australia’s scoring, captain Michael Clarke succumbed to temptation. Aiming an airy drive at Broad, he picked out Ben Stokes at backward point.
And on it went. Adam Voges nicked his fellow Ashes debutant Mark Wood to Jos Buttler before Cook took a brilliant catch at the second attempt to complete Brad Haddin’s miserable match.
When Shane Watson fell lbw to Mark Wood, and once again tossed away a review, Australia were 151-7.
To their credit, Australia launched a mini-recovery as Johnson showed his abilities with the bat in hand.
His partnership of 72 with Mitchell Starc briefly threatened to push the game into a fifth day, only for part-time off-spinner Root to provide the crucial impetus for England.
Having just been smashed for 14 runs in three balls by Johnson, he stayed on to have Starc and Johnson caught at slip by Adam Lyth in successive overs to leave Australia nine down.
And when Josh Hazlewood lofted Moeen to long-on, England and their fans launched into celebrations.
Broad showed himself to be England’s man for the big occasion with another influential Ashes performance.
He set the tone with an exceptional opening burst, which started with three consecutive maidens and featured the breakthrough wicket of Rogers, caught at slip to end a run of seven consecutive Test fifties.
Returning after lunch for another probing spell of full, fast seam bowling, Broad gestured to the crowd to raise the noise levels.
And as they roared his run-up from the Cathedral Road End, he responded to remove Smith and Clarke to rip the heart out of Australia’s batting.
Seeing Broad in such inspired form carried echoes of 2009 at The Oval, when he took 5-37 on the second afternoon to set up England’s Ashes series-winning victory. Then, two years ago, he was England’s match-winner in Durham, with a spell of 6-20 in 45 balls as England sealed the series.
Australia, who had won 11 of their previous 16 Tests, suddenly have issues to address as they look to wrestle back the initiative and get back on course for a first Ashes win in the UK since 2001. – [BBC]
Scores: England 430 and 289;
Australia 308 and 242 (David Warner 52, Steve Smith 33, Mitchell Johnson 77, Stuart Broad 3/39, Moeen Ali 3/59, Mark Wood 2/53, Joe Root 2/28)