Brilliant Bell puts England in charge of fourth Ashes Test
Ian Bell became just the third Englishman to score three centuries in an Ashes series – following on from after Maurice Leyland in 1934 and David Gower in 1985 – as he put England in the driving seat on the third day at Chester-le-Street.
The 31-year-old finished the day 105 not-out as his superb knock left the home side on 234-5 at stumps and 202 ahead, making them the 8/11 favourites to win the Test and ultimately claim the series.
The hosts started the morning needing five wickets and rattled through the Australian batting line-up taking those necessary victims for just 48 runs, eventually bowling the tourists out for 270; a 32-run lead.
The openers struggled again for England with Joe Root undone by a beauty from Ryan Harris and Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott also falling to Harris leaving Andy Flower’s men 49-3.
Kevin Pietersen came in and formed a strong partnership with Bell before the South African-born man became frustrated with the bowling of Nathan Lyon and was caught after an ill-advised shot produced a leading edge to leave his team 155-4.
Jonny Bairstow came to the crease and attacked the Australian spinner, smashing successive boundaries over the bowler’s head, ensuring England remained in the ascendancy.
The flame-haired batsman fell for 28 before the end of the day as Bell went on to get his ton. Tim Bresnan ended the day on four not-out as he was sent in ahead of Matt Prior.
It looks a little ominous for the 9/4 Aussies, with Bell looking immovable at the crease and the batting of Prior and the aggressive Stuart Broad still to come.
The hosts will aim to build a lead as close to the 300 mark as possible and with a deteriorating pitch will most likely look to Graeme Swann to cause the visitors batsmen trouble and secure a series victory.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.