Fourth Test at Trent Bridge: Hoggard and Giles hold on as champions refuse to go quietly

ENGLAND 477 & 129-7 AUSTRALIA 218 & 387 England win by three wickets

The three-wicket win, clinched when Giles clipped Shane Warne through mid-wicket for two, moved England into a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series. The nail-biting victory means that England need only a draw in the final Test at the Oval if they are to regain the Ashes for the first time in 16 years. However, by winning here England have ensured that they will at worst draw the series, a performance that surpasses anything they have achieved in the previous seven Ashes encounters.

But, my, did Australia make England fight for the 129 runs they required, and, my, did England nearly blow it. At times it hurt to watch,. Never in the 129-year history of Test cricket can three consecutive matches have reached such a dramatic conclusion.

Hoggard joined Giles when Geraint Jones rashly holed out to deepish mid-off. Vaughan's valiant troops were 15 runs away from their target at the time. But the pair nudged, edged and even handsomely drove their way to the target in the tensest circumstances imaginable.

That the match reached such a nerve-shredding conclusion was largely due to the brilliance of Warne, who took four wickets and caused problems for every England batsman. He was given brilliant support by Brett Lee and the pair nearly pinched the match.

After bowling Australia out for 387 in their second innings, most would have expected England to win quite comfortably, especially when Marcus Trescothick set off cutting, carving and driving the new ball to all parts of this ground.

But his cameo ended when Ricky Ponting threw the ball to Warne and asked him to bowl the sixth over. Trescothick played a regulation forward defensive to Warne's first delivery but the ball spat out of the foot-holes, struck his bat and carried to Ponting at silly point.

The crowd fell silent, but it was not until the first ball of Warne's second over, when Vaughan edged a beautiful leg-spinner to Matthew Hayden at slip, that the prospect of the unimaginable happening became a possibility.

Andrew Strauss was caught at leg slip off Warne. Strauss questioned whether the catch had carried to Michael Clarke, and the decision was referred. The third umpire correctly gave him out.

Ian Bell did little to relieve the state of dread when, two balls later, he top-edged a hook at Brett Lee and was caught by Michael Kasprowicz at fine leg. The departure of Bell left England reeling on 57 for 4, still 72 runs short of victory.

Bell's ill-advised stroke brought together the two biggest names in English cricket - Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen. But with less than 30 runs needed for victory, both fell to Lee. Pietersen edged the fast bowler to the wicketkeeper; Flintoff was bowled by a superb off-cutter. But Hoggard and Giles then secured a famous victory.

Angus Fraser's highlight

Andrew Flintoff's fifth Test century highlighted his maturity, but it was the 177-run partnership with Geraint Jones that swung the match England's way. England were delicately placed on 241-5 when the pair came together on the second morning yet they took their side to 418, from where they could dominate the game and show the way to victory.

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