A fluent innings of 65 not out by England batsman Ian Bell (pictured) – his second half-century of the match on his Warwickshire home ground – helped Alastair Cook’s team ease to a convincing eight-wicket victory in a little over two-and-a-half days.

Australia now need a minimum return of one win and a draw from the final two Tests, starting at Trent Bridge next week – as holders of the Ashes a 2-2 draw would be sufficient to see them retain the urn. Another ray of hope for the tourists is that key England bowler Jimmy Anderson – the so-called ‘King of Swing’ – has already been ruled out of the Fourth Test with a side strain suffered at Edgbaston.

Michael Clarke’s Aussie were always struggling after a disastrous first-day batting performance saw them collapse to a paltry 136 all out in just under 37 overs. England replied with 281 to take a 145-run lead on first innings, and when Australia flopped again at the second time of asking there was at one stage a realistic prospect of the match being completed in less than two days.

Australia eventually posted a semi-respectable second innings total of 265 thanks to David Warner (77), Peter Nevill (59) and Mitchell Starc (58), but England eased to a winning total of 124-2 midway the end of an extended afternoon session on the third day. England fast bowler Steven Finn – whose eight-wicket haul included 6-79 in the Australian second innings – was named man of the match.

The result continues the topsy-turvy nature of the series. England were convincing winners by 169 runs at Cardiff in the First Test, but the Australians bounced back in style to crush their opponents by an enormous 405-run margin in the Second Test at Lord’s.