Ian Bell hailed the “amazing game” of Test cricket after the Ashes swung England’s way once more.
Hammered at Lord’s after an impressive opening win at Cardiff, England turned the tables in equally decisive fashion to win by eight wickets inside three days at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire batsman Bell made 53 and an unbeaten 65 on his home ground as he and Joe Root rounded off a chase of just 121.
But he was quick to share the credit round after James Anderson took six wickets in the first innings and Steven Finn did likewise in the second.
“It’s an amazing game, isn’t it?,” Bell said.
“It was a tough week after Lord’s, Australia showed after Cardiff the way to bounce back and we’ve done that.
“The bowlers set the tone on day one, it’s been a great week for us but there’s a lot of hard work for next week as well.
“I’ve been part of a few of these series and it’s always tough. I fully expected today Australia were going to fight all the way – I never expected to be chasing 50, I was expecting 150-plus.”
Bell’s runs were particularly welcome given the pre-match scrutiny on his place, coupled with a move up to number three in a revised top order.
He said: “With how I got out in the first innings – Geoffrey Boycott told me this morning how bad a shot that was! – so I wanted to be there at the end.
“I hope that’s the start of me getting back in form.”
England captain Alastair Cook was also glad to see Bell among the runs.
“We have to remember class is permanent,” Cook said. “He’s had a tough few games but you’ve got to keep backing the right horses and Ian Bell is certainly one of them.”
Regarding the performance of his bowlers, who dismissed the tourists for 136 in their first innings to set up the win, he added: “I don’t think the pitch quite had as much in it as 140 all out but the way Jimmy bowled, backed up by Stuart (Broad) and Steven, was fantastic.
“For Steven to do what he’s done in this game after two years out was absolutely fantastic.
Anderson will be unavailable for the fourth Test on his favoured hunting ground of Trent Bridge due to a side strain which forced him out of the attack in Australia’s second innings.
Cook said: “It’s obviously a huge miss, but whoever’s selected, it’s going to be hard but it’s an opportunity for somebody to stand up.”
Opposite number Michael Clarke sympathised with Anderson – but likened the incident to the freak pre-match injury suffered by Australia’s star seamer Glenn McGrath at Edgbaston in 2005.
“You don’t wish injury on anybody – as much as you want to win the game, you don’t want to play against a weaker team,” Clarke said. “Jimmy showed his class in the first innings of this game and his record at Notts is very good so maybe it’ll be a bit like 2005 when Glenn McGrath went down.”
Scores of 10 and three continued Clarke’s poor series – he has yet to reach 50, with the Australian middle order struggling as a unit.
“The form of number four certainly concerns me,” he said. “We’ve been playing with 10 players and the captain’s got to come off the plane and contribute.”