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August 10, 2009

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Aussies level Ashes series with big win

AUSTRALIA completed a crushing victory over England in the fourth test yesterday to level the Ashes series at 1-1 with one match to play.

The touring side ended England's entertaining lower-order resistance 20 minutes after lunch on the third day at Headingley, Leeds, Mitchell Johnson bowling Graham Onions to dismiss the hosts for 263 and seal victory by an innings and 80 runs.

"We've played some good cricket here and I am very proud of the guys for bouncing back and playing so well," Australia captain Ricky Ponting said.

"All credit to our bowlers. They bowled brilliantly on the first day and that set it up for us. We dominated the match from the first ball."

Graeme Swann, who made 62, had shared a dazzling century partnership with Stuart Broad in the morning session to frustrate Australia and ensure that England avoided a record margin of defeat.

"We have to take this on the chin," England captain Andrew Strauss said. "This is no time to panic. We need to stay calm and make sure we get the game-plan right for The Oval."

England resumed on 82 for five following its collapse on Saturday and night-watchman James Anderson struck the second ball of the day for four but he edged the next one from Ben Hilfenhaus to Ponting at second slip.

Matt Prior played two sumptuous square drives for four but he fell for 22, nibbling at a Hilfenhaus out-swinger and edging the ball to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin who took a brilliant diving catch.

Broad was dropped by Peter Siddle on 18, a very difficult chance at mid-off, and he struck several crisp boundaries, including four in one over from Stuart Clark.

He reached his half-century, made from only 42 balls, with a crashing straight drive for four off Siddle and Swann also went on the attack, the pair adding 49 runs in three overs from Clark and Siddle.

Broad was dropped again on 53 by Johnson running back at long-off and Swann's quick single brought up the 100 partnership off 73 balls.

Broad survived yet again when Simon Katich failed to grasp another tough catch on the boundary but his luck finally ran out on 61 when he pulled Siddle and Shane Watson held the chance at deep square leg.

Hook for six

Swann continued to play his shots, reaching his half-century with a hook for six off Siddle and England took lunch on 245 for eight.

Swann was first to go after the interval, driving at a wide ball from Johnson to give Haddin an easy catch and Johnson clean bowled Onions for a duck to complete impressive figures of five for 69.

The series will now be decided in the fifth test at The Oval in London starting on August 20. England needs to win to regain the Ashes, which are currently held by the Australians after their 5-0 series win in 2006-07.

England was behind in the match after winning the toss and capitulating to 102 all out for its lowest test score against Australia at Headingley in 100 years. The visitors hit back with 445 with Marcus North scoring 110 and Michael Clarke making 93.


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