Pat Cummins put Australia on brink of retaining Ashes after dismissing Ben Stokes (Image: GETTY)
A sold out Old Trafford had invested so much hope in the talismanic all-rounder after his heroics to singlehandedly wrench victory from the Aussies grasp at Headingley.
But Cummins exacted revenge for Leeds with his third unplayable spell of the match, first bowling Jason Roy through the gate, then getting a faint inside edge on Stokes bat to dismiss the main man.
England’s ship reached lunch listing badly at 87-4 still trailing Australia by 296 and with the visitors just six wickets away from retaining the Ashes.
Joe Denly was still there on 48 with Jonny Bairstow on two but Tim Paine’s side look to be just a couple of key wickets away from inflicting defeat.
Stokes had insisted after Headingley that victory in Leeds where his 135 not out had dragged the Specsavers Series level would mean nothing if England lost the Ashes.
It explained his dejection as he walked slowly from the field just 20 minutes before lunch.
The all-rounder had not actually been given out by Marais Erasmus but instead had ‘walked’ knowing the nick would show on review with Paine convinced the ball had brushed the inside of his bat.
Cummins intervention cut short building hope inside a packed ground which had started to believe another miracle result might be possible after Denly and Roy had negotiated the first hour with relative comfort.Pat Cummins put Australia on brink of retaining Ashes after dismissing Ben Stokes (Image: GETTY)
But a late change of plan from Paine, replacing Mitchell Starc with Cummins for the 25th over, brought the breakthrough with Roy.
Starc was at the end of his run up when he was hooked for Cummins.
And the No 1 Test bowler did not disappoint.
Cummins, who had bowled three overs at the start of the day, had been the catalyst for a change in fortunes in England’s first innings with a brutal 10 overs spell on Friday evening.
While he may not have taken the glory – Josh Hazlewood picking up the three late wickets – it was his pressure which saw Australia grab control.
On Saturday night it was his two wicket blast to remove Rory Burns and Joe Root had opened up a glimpse of victory for Australia.
Grabbing the ball, Cummins took just six balls to get one through Roy’s ungainly and flimsy defences – a replica dismissal to the one which Hazlewood inflicted in the first innings.
His breakthrough brought Stokes to the wicket to loud applause but it died in the throat some 20 minutes later.