Australian skipper Michael Clarke exchanges words with Stuart Broad shortly before he was given out. Photo: Getty Images
- Scorecard / As it happened
- Arthur's theme plays loudly
- Both DRS and Australia's judgment flawed
- Clarke defends use or review
NOTTINGHAM: The dismissal of Michael Clarke, amid further umpiring drama, triggered another batting collapse that left Australia on the path to defeat in the first Ashes Test.
After three days packed with drama, the fourth was tight with suspense until Australia lost three wickets, including that of the captain and best batsman, for three runs in 18 balls.
Promoted: Ashton Agar remains not out at stumps. Photo: Ryan Pierse
England had set Australia 311 to win - which would be a record at Trent Bridge - and the touring team still needed 137 at stumps on day four, with Brad Haddin and wonder boy Ashton Agar, promoted to No.8, at the crease.
After staggering to 6-174, Australia has only the tail to bat and no more DRS challenges in case of emergencies on the final day.
Clarke, so important to the chase, used the last challenge after Stuart Broad launched a passionate appeal for caught behind. First, umpire Aleem Dar asked the TV umpire to check whether the catch had carried to Matt Prior. It had, so Clarke was given out, but the Australian captain then asked for a review to check the edge. A faint white mark appeared on Hot Spot, and Clarke had to go for 23.
Day four, first Ashes Test
A collapse late in the day leaves Australia on the back foot. Photo: Getty Images
Steve Smith succumbed to the next ball from Graeme Swann, which turned sharply into his pads. The off-spinner, revving the ball harder now, then thumbed Phillip Hughes on the pad. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena turned down the appeal, but England challenged and decision was overturned.
The Australians had been in good shape at 2-111, now they turned to a 19-year-old debutant with nothing to fear to salvage the innings.
As the players' faith in the umpires and the DRS continued to be tested, Ed Cowan put his Test career in grave doubt. The Australians had established a solid platform when, on the stroke of tea, Cowan played a lavish drive at part-time spinner Joe Root and was caught at slip for 14.
Brad Haddin (L) and Ashton Agar will lead Australia's run chase on the final with the tourists needing 137 runs for victory with four wickets in hand. Photo: Getty Images
Cowan has endured a horrid Test. He was floored by a stomach bug for much of the match, made a golden duck in the first innings and dropped a difficult catch at short leg in the second.
Having relinquished his opening spot to Shane Watson, the 31-year-old is now under immense pressure from reserve batsman Usman Khawaja to hold his place in the team for the next Test at Lord's.
Chris Rogers and Shane Watson struck just the right balance of patience and intent for an opening stand of 84, and Rogers posted a hard-fought maiden Test 50.
Half of Watson's dismissals against England have been lbw and so it was again although he, too, had reason to feel disillusioned with the rules governing the DRS.
He had played well for 46 but played across the line to Broad and was given out leg before.
Sensing the ball was missing leg, Watson challenged, but because Hawkeye showed a fraction of the ball shaving leg stump, Dar's original decision was upheld.
This was not a howler of the sort for which Dar was pilloried the previous day but it provided another example of the flawed use of DRS. In the first innings Rogers was given out in similar circumstances, and he dropped his bat in dismay when the Watson verdict flashed up on the screen.
Rogers battled on but tumbled into a trap prepared by Jimmy Anderson and England bowling coach David Saker. When the veteran opener clipped a simple catch to mid-wicket, Anderson pointed to Saker on the balcony of the dressing room, from where Saker gave him a thumbs-up.
Earlier, the Australians took the four remaining wickets to wrap up England's second innings for 375 before lunch.
Ian Bell scored an excellent 109 and later rated it among his best. In the six and a half hours Bell spent at the crease, as controversy erupted around him, he turned England's position from desperate to dominant.
Tellingly, he was the first batsman in the game to pass three figures on a slow pitch that must remind the Australians of their recent misadventures in India. Ominously for Australia, England has never lost a Test in which Bell has made a hundred.