Nottingham, United Kingdom: Australia’s Chris Rogers scored his maiden Test fifty before the see-saw Ashes opener against England took yet another twist on the fourth day at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
To what turned out to be the last ball before tea, Australia lost Ed Cowan — who played at Trent Bridge earlier this season for Nottinghamshire — when he edged part-time spinner Joe Root to Jonathan Trott at slip on 14.
Cowan’s exit left Australia 111 for two in their second innings — needing exactly 200 more tuns to reach their daunting victory target of 311.
No side has made more to win in the fourth innings of a Trent Bridge Test than England’s 284 for six against New Zealand in 2004.
Rogers, like Cowan a left-hander, battled hard to complete a 104-ball fifty with eight fours, with the 35-year-old playing his second Test five years after making his debut.
Australia frustrated England in the initial stages of their chase before opener Shane Watson was lbw to a Stuart Broad inswinger for 46.
The all-rounder reviewed Kumar Dharmasena’s out verdict but, with the Decision Review System indicating the ball would have clipped the edge of leg stump, the Sri Lankan’s call was upheld.
It was the latest controversial decision in this match but Watson, restored to his favoured opening position by new Australia coach Darren Lehmann, had to go having failed to add to his meagre tally of two hundreds in what was now his 42nd Test.
And 84 for one nearly became 85 for two when Rogers was given out caught behind off spinner Graeme Swann on 38.
Rogers immediately reviewed the decision and, with replays showing neither an edge nor indicating he was lbw, he was reprieved.
Earlier, Ian Bell’s 109 had been the cornerstone of Ashes-holders England’s second innings 375.
Bell, 95 not out overnight, shared a seventh-wicket stand of 138 with Broad (65).
All-rounder Broad was controversially given not out on 37 on Friday despite edging teenage debutant spinner Ashton Agar to Australia captain Michael Clarke at slip, a decision the tourists couldn’t challenge as by then they’d used up both their reviews.
Apart from a tough diving chance dropped by Haddin off Peter Siddle when he was on 77, Bell batted near faultlessly on Friday after coming in with England only 56 runs in front and three wickets down.
The 31-year-old Warwickshire right-hander has been often accused of not scoring runs when England most needed them but this was arguably the most valuable innings of his Test career.
Broad, 47 not out overnight, completed a 124-ball fifty when he edged a drive off James Pattinson between Watson and Clarke in the slips.
Then a misfield at point by Agar, who on Thursday made 98, the highest score by a Test No 11, allowed Bell to scamper through for a single that saw him to his 18th Test hundred in 237 balls with 13 fours.
Broad was eventually out for 65 when he edged Pattinson to Haddin.
This time Broad ‘walked’ before Bell’s near six-and-a-half hour innings ended when he was caught behind off Mitchell Starc.
Scoreboard at tea on the fourth day of the first Ashes Test between England and Australia at Trent Bridge on Saturday:
England 1st Innings 215 (P Siddle 5-50; J Pattinson 3-69)
Australia 1st Innings 280 (A Agar 98, P Hughes 81 no, S Smith 53; J Anderson 5-85)
England 2nd Innings (overnight: 326-6)
A. Cook c Clarke b Agar 50
J. Root c Haddin b Starc 5
J. Trott lbw b Starc 0
K. Pietersen b Pattinson 64
I. Bell c Haddin b Starc 109
J. Bairstow c Haddin b Agar 15
M. Prior c Cowan b Siddle 31
S. Broad c Haddin b Pattinson 65
G. Swann c Clarke b Siddle 9
S. Finn not out 2
J. Anderson c Hughes b Siddle 0
Extras (b2, lb13, w1, nb9) 25
Total (all out, 149.5 overs, 660 mins) 375
Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Root), 2-11 (Trott), 3-121 (Pietersen), 4-131 (Cook), 5-176 (Bairstow), 6-218 (Prior), 7-356 (Broad), 8-371 (Bell), 9-375 (Swann), 10-375 (Anderson)
Bowling: Pattinson 34-8-101-2 (1nb); Starc 32-7-81-3 (5nb, 1w); Agar 35-9-82-2 (1nb); Siddle 33.5-12-85-3 (2nb); Watson 15-11-11-0
Australia 2nd Innings
S. Watson lbw b Broad 46
C. Rogers not out 50
E. Cowan c Trott b Root 14
Extras (nb1) 1
Total (2 wkts, 36.4 overs, 151 mins) 111
Fall of wickets: 1-84 (Watson), 2-111 (Cowan)
To bat: M Clarke, S Smith, P Hughes, B Haddin, P Siddle, M Starc, J Pattinson, A Agar
Bowling: Anderson 9-1-33-0; Broad 8-1-22-1 (1nb); Swann 15-3-42-0; Finn 3-0-9-0; Root 1.4-0-5-1
Match position: Australia need 200 more runs to reach their victory target of 311 with eight second innings wickets standing.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)