Stokes eager for swift finish after five-wicket England haul

Australia captain Michael Clarke walks off after his second-innings dismissal (Picture: PA).
Australia captain Michael Clarke walks off after his second-innings dismissal (Picture: PA).
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Ben Stokes is savouring the chance to taste Ashes victory after bowling England to brink at Trent Bridge.

Alastair Cook’s side fell three wickets short of consigning Australia to a two-day humbling in the fourth Investec Test but Stokes did his best to speed things along with an impressive return of 5-35.

The tourists will resume this morning knowing their hopes of retaining the urn are all but over, their 241-7 leaving them 90 runs short of making England bat again.

And Stokes is setting his sights on finishing matters with minimal fuss.

The Durham all-rounder, whose first series was the whitewash Down Under 18 months ago, said: “We’re in an unbelievable position here. A really, really good position.

“They’re not quite in our grasp yet, but we hope they’re very close.

“We need three more wickets to get the Ashes back, but we know their tail can hang around and get some runs.

“The most crucial thing is that we go out tomorrow and make sure we don’t have to get the pads on, because their tail end wagged a bit of Edgbaston,” explained Stokes.

“Hopefully we can just knock them over and get the game over and done.

“We know no game is over until the last wicket is taken, so we’ll take that attitude in.”

Stokes turned in arguably his best spell for England, keeping the tourists guessing with a display of controlled swing bowling that would have drawn admiring nods from the injured James Anderson.

He also held the catch that did for Steve Smith just before lunch, the world’s No 1 batsman falling in single figures for the fourth innings in succession.

Smith claimed prior to the series that England would “not come close” to an in-form Australia, and while one could argue the Baggy Greens have been well short of top gear the comment had not escaped Stokes’s notice.

He has been known to get involved in the occasional verbal joust in his time, but on this occasion made do with a broad smile and restrained riposte.

“Yeah, we did see that,” he said.

“I don’t want to go too far with this so...we hope we’re going to lift the Ashes tomorrow...that’s it.”

Stokes’s five-for, his second in Tests following his 6-99 in Sydney, was the latest in a series of important contributions from the home dressing room.

Joe Root has scored two hundreds, out of a meagre four in the series, Broad’s career-best 8-15 will linger long in the memories of anyone who witnessed it and James Anderson and Steven Finn turned in fine contributions at Edgbaston. But Stokes was keen to acknowledge the contributions of the decision-makers, captain Alastair Cook and coach Trevor Bayliss.

“Cookie’s gone through a really tough last two years but since the West Indies tour he’s found the form again that’s made him probably the greatest ever England batsman we’ll see,” he added.

“We’ve always had good team spirit but we’ve got a new coach, who’s sort of different to any other coach I’ve been under.”