Stuart Broad took eight wickets as England skittled out Australia for 60 in a historically quick 111 balls and moved within sight of an Ashes-clinching win on the first day of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
Fast-medium bowler Broad took eight for 15 in 9.3 overs as he smashed through the 300 Test wicket mark in a scintillating performance he acclaimed as “unbelievable”.
Australia’s innings was wrapped up in just 18.3 overs — the quickest any team has ever been bowled out in the first innings in the 138-year history of Test cricket.
Joe Root’s unbeaten century then compounded Australia’s misery as England reached stumps on 274 for four, a lead of 214 runs.
Root was 124 not out after putting on 173 for the fourth wicket with Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow (74). Nightwatchman Mark Wood was unbeaten on two.
For the second match in a row England, 2-1 up in the five-match series and needing one more win to regain the Ashes, had all but assured themselves of victory with their first-day performance following last week’s eight-wicket success at Edgbaston.
Initially cloudy conditions offered some assistance to the bowlers and doubtless prompted Alastair Cook’s decision to field first upon winning the toss.
But they were not ‘unplayable’.
Broad bowled well, maintaining an excellent line and length on his Nottinghamshire home ground.
However, several of his wickets owed much to poor shots by Australia batsmen who again cemented their reputation as ‘flat-track bullies’ unable to cope with sideways seaming and swing movement.
Eight Australians were caught in the slip cordon — all off Broad.
Mitchell Johnson (13) and Australia captain Michael Clarke (10) were the only batsmen to make double figure scores in the innings.
Australia’s total — with extras the top score on 14 — was the lowest by either side in an Ashes innings since England were dismissed for 52 at The Oval in 1948.
“It’s pretty unbelievable. It’s not sunk in,” Broad told Sky Sports after drawing level with England great Fred Trueman’s career tally of 307 Test wickets.
“We knew Trent Bridge would offer us something but we had to bowl well and take our catches.”
The 29-year-old Broad, leading the attack in the absence of the injured James Anderson — England’s all-time leading wicket-taker — needed just three balls in Thursday’s first over to take his 300th Test wicket when opener Chris Rogers, on nought, edged to Cook at first slip.
It was the first duck of Rogers’s 46-innings career in Test cricket.
Three balls after becoming just the fifth England bowler after Anderson, Ian Botham, Bob Willis and Trueman to take 300 Test wickets, Broad struck again when Steven Smith, aiming legside, was held by Root at third slip for six.
Durham quick Wood, in for Anderson, needed just two balls to take his lone wicket when David Warner was caught behind off the inside edge.
Left-handers Rogers and Warner became the first Australia openers to both fall for ducks in an Ashes Test innings since Arthur Morris and Jack Moroney at Brisbane in 1950.
Broad removed Shaun Marsh, brought in to replace dropped younger brother Mitchell, for nought as well before he had Adam Voges (one) brilliantly caught one-handed by diving fifth slip Ben Stokes.
Clarke’s desperate run of form continued when, driving loosely outside off stump against Broad, he was well caught by a leaping Cook at to leave Australia 29 for six.
The 34-year-old’s exit meant Clarke had now managed just 104 runs in seven innings this series.
Broad ended the innings when he had last man Nathan Lyon caught by Stokes.
Australia left-armer Mitchell Starc took three wickets to leave England 96 for three.
But from then on the 24-year-old Root and Bairstow piled on the runs as an increasingly sunny day made conditions easier for the batsmen.
Root completed a 128-ball century, his eighth in Test cricket and second of the series following his 134 in England’s 169-run win in the first Test in Cardiff, when he cut occasional medium-pacer Warner for his 17th four.
But there was no maiden Test century for Bairstow, whose innings ended when he clipped Josh Hazlewood off his pads straight to Rogers at square leg.