Ashes 2015: Dominant England closes in on regaining the Test seriesNottingham, England (AP): Eighteen months after a regime-changing whitewash Down Under, England is on the cusp of winning back the Ashes.And they are humiliating Australia in the process.England fell just short of a series-clinching
Nottingham, England (AP): Eighteen months after a regime-changing whitewash Down Under, England is on the cusp of winning back the Ashes.
And they are humiliating Australia in the process.
England fell just short of a series-clinching victory inside two days at Trent Bridge when bad light stopped play Friday with the Australians 241-7 in their second innings, needing 90 more runs just to make the hosts bat again in the fourth test.
Instead, Alastair Cook's men must wait until Saturday to regain the little urn they relinquished so meekly at the start of 2014 after a 5-0 thrashing.
"They are not quite in our grasp," England allrounder Ben Stokes, who took 5-35 in Australia's second innings, said of the Ashes. "But they are very close."
Australia openers Chris Rogers and David Warner were frustrating England and had moved the score to 113-0 when Stokes produced his most telling contribution of the series.
In a crazy 21-minute spell just before tea, Stokes took three wickets for four runs in 13 deliveries to spark an Australian collapse to 136-4. It evoked memories of Australia's first-innings meltdown when it was skittled for 60 and Stuart Broad took 8-15.
And when captain Michael Clarke departed for 13 for another failure this series, Australia was on course to lose an Ashes test inside two days for the first time in 125 years.
Adam Voges and Peter Nevill dug in for a 50-run partnership, ensuring the loss of Nevill (17) and Mitchell Johnson (5) both to the rampant Stokes came too late enough for England to avoid having to return Saturday.
Voges (48) and Mitchell Starc (0) couldn't get off the field quicker when the umpires offered the light.
"It's been a tough couple of days of cricket but we are still alive," said Starc, who was Australia's standout bowler with career-best figures of 6-111. "We'll come out again tomorrow and fight as hard as we can that's the Australian way."
Starc was staying positive but Australia is facing a third big loss this series, after a 169-run defeat in Cardiff and an eight-wicket hammering at Edgbaston last week.
The English lead 2-1 in a five-match series they started out as underdogs. If they seal victory in Nottingham, they'll have won five of the last seven Ashes series and four straight at home.
The fact that Cook was happy to declare with less than 400 on the board, England batting second, summed up the Australians' plight at Trent Bridge. It was another ignominy in a test they want to quickly forget.
Rogers, out off a no-ball from Mark Wood, and Warner, dropped twice in the slips, were riding their luck before Stokes returned with a lethal second spell from the Radcliffe Road End.
Rogers departed for 52 when a diving Joe Root took a one-handed catch at third slip.
Warner (64) attempted another ill-advised short-arm pull, only to scoop a leading edge to Broad at mid-on. Shaun Marsh (2) prodded at a wide one by Stokes and edged to Root.
After Steve Smith (5) drove Broad to Stokes at short point, Australia limped to tea having lost four wickets in 27 balls. Smith, the world's top-ranked batsman, had four consecutive single-figure scores for the first time in his test career, with 26 runs in two matches since Australia's win at Lord's.
Soon after the interval, Clarke pushed hard at a full ball by Mark Wood. Cook fumbled at first slip, but managed to flick up the ball for Bell to take catch next to him.
It left England a couple of hours to polish off Australia, but it didn't quite happen.
Earlier, England resumed on 274-4 and added 117 runs in 20.2 overs before declaring, with overnight centurion Root getting out early as he became Starc's first dismissal of the day.
Root (130) added only six runs when he was caught behind prodding at Starc.
Moeen Ali struck seven fours and a six for 38 off 24 balls, with his entertaining 58-run stand with Broad (24 not out) piling misery on Australia before Smith took a flying catch at second slip to remove Ali. That was Johnson's only wicket of the innings.
Starc beat his previous best of 6-154 against South Africa in Perth in 2012.
"Taking six wickets was special," Starc said, "but I'd rather we were heading into Day 3 in a better position."