The Ashes 2013: Keys to Victory for England in 4th Test vs. Australia

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2013

CHESTER-LE-STREET, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  Ian Bell of England bats during day three of 4th Investec Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Emirates Durham ICG on August 11, 2013 in Chester-le-Street, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

England entered Day 4 of the fourth Ashes Test with a lead of 202 runs. The hosts have already retained the tiny trophy and are on track to win the series outright after building a healthy lead at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street.

Alastair Cook's side haven't always looked so comfortable throughout this Test. With expectations of another win mounting, the home side have dug deep to put themselves in a favourable position.

What are the keys to victory for England? Let's take a look.


Ian Bell Continuing to Score

It will take the blindest of critics to suggest Ian Bell is anything less than the defining player across this Ashes series. His ability to continually put centuries on the board has massively helped an England team that has, for the most part, underwhelmed with the bat.

Bell has remained resolute. His third century in four Tests kills the assumption that he only performs when his teammates are doing the same, as reported by Jonathan Agnew of BBC Sport:

We are all familiar with the old theory that Bell only scored runs when his team-mates had done the same. Not any more.

In this series he has done the opposite: come in with his team in trouble, as they have been in almost every innings, and rescued them with the sort of calm, poised performances that denote a player of the highest standard.

Bell enters Day 4 on 105 from 189 balls. His hard work is done at this point, as even if he loses his wicket from the first ball, he has put the host nation in control. It is a run of performances that will go down in history.


Australian Bowlers Failing to Work in Tandem

A recurring theme of the series has seen Australia's bowlers failing to hit form at the same time. The likes of Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and yes, even Steven Smith have all produced brilliant individual displays, but their hard work hasn't been reinforced by a team that struggles for consistency.

The fourth Test has been no different.

Despite all five bowlers grabbing at least one wicket during England's first innings, the Aussies have struggled to sustain the pressure. Michael Clarke has utilised six bowlers in an attempt to halt the home attack during the second innings, but only Nathan Lyon and Harris have managed to take wickets with two and three respectively.

Siddle, Smith, Jackson Bird and Shane Watson have barely threatened to ease Australian worries. Each has bowled a significant number of overs and highlight a team of bowlers who just haven't hit form at the same time this test, or indeed, the entire series.


Struggles of the Baggy Greens' Top Order

Similarly, much of England's success has been amplified by the Baggy Greens' inability to capitalise on mistakes. England posted a poor 238 during the first innings, but the visitors did not take full advantage.

Michael Clarke's top order is largely to blame for this. The captain managed just six runs, while Usman Khawaja and David Warner added the same amount between them. Watson's 68 threatened to give Australia a healthy lead, especially alongside Chris Rogers' stunning 110, but there was simply not enough support from the rest of the team.

Australia finished the first innings on 270 and allowed England back into the game. Just one more effective display from Clarke, Khawaja or Warner could have bagged this one for the Aussies. Once more, the top order's inability to apply pressure handed England yet another opportunity to secure the series.