BIRMINGHAM (Reuters) - A breezy sixth-wicket partnership of 89 between Andrew Flintoff and Matt Prior lifted England to 316 for seven at tea on the fourth day of the third Ashes test on Sunday. Flintoff top-scored with 74 and England, 1-0 up in the series, moved 53 runs ahead of the touring side with four sessions remaining. Stuart Broad was unbeaten on 20 at the interval with Graeme Swann on four. Resuming after lunch on 159 for four, England soon lost Ian Bell for 53. The right-hander had just reached his fifty when he was trapped lbw by Mitchell Johnson for 53, a wicket the left-arm seamer deserved after having a similarly strong appeal turned down in the morning.That brought in Flintoff and the all-rounder started watchfully with the ball still swinging around. He warmed up with a couple of sweet straight drives and took an immediate liking to medium-pacer Shane Watson with a series of crashing drives through the covers. Prior also joined in and the pair added 89 off 97 balls to give England the initiative. Prior fell for 41, mis-timing an ambitious pull off Peter Siddle and giving an easy catch to substitute Phillip Hughes at mid-on. Flintoff stayed positive, however, and lifted off-spinner Nathan Hauritz over long-on for six before sweeping him for four to reach his half-century. Flintoff, whose bowling inspired England to victory in the last test, raised his bat and received a standing ovation from the crowd. He found another willing partner in Broad and was eyeing his sixth test century when he tried to leave a ball from Hauritz which spun sharply out of the rough and clipped his glove on the way to Michael Clarke at slip. Earlier, the start of play was delayed by an hour due to a wet outfield and with England resuming on 116 for two the Australian seamers began well in favourable conditions. Captain Andrew Strauss was subdued and he fell for 69 trying to cut a short ball from Ben Hilfenhaus that was too close to him and edging a catch to wicketkeeper Graham Manou. That ended a third-wicket partnership of 81 and Australia were further lifted by a hostile burst from left-armer Johnson, who had struggled in the first two tests. Bell played two sweet cover drives to the boundary and Paul Collingwood took three fours in one Hilfenhaus over. But the bowler took revenge just before lunch when Collingwood, on 13, drove at a wide delivery and Ricky Ponting held a good high catch at second slip. The third day's play was washed out without a ball being bowled. SCOREBOARD AUSTRALIA, 1st Innings: 263 (S Watson 62; J Anderson 5-80, G Onions 4-58) ENGLAND, 1st Innings: (overnight: 116-2) A. Strauss c Manou b Hilfenhaus 69 A. Cook c Manou b Siddle 0 R. Bopara b Hilfenhaus 23 I. Bell lbw b Johnson 53 P. Collingwood c Ponting b Hilfenhaus 13 M. Prior c sub (Hughes) b Siddle 41 A. Flintoff c Clarke b Hauritz 74 S. Broad c and b Siddle 55 G. Swann c North b Johnson 24 J. Anderson c Manou b Hilfenhaus 1 G. Onions not out 2 EXTRAS: (b2, lb4, w6, nb9) 21 TOTAL: (all out, 93.3 overs, 409 mins) 376 Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Cook), 2-60 (Bopara), 3-141 (Strauss), 4-159 (Collingwood), 5-168 (Bell), 6-257 (Prior), 7-309 (Flintoff), 8-348 (Swann), 9-355 (Anderson), 10-376 (Broad) BOWLING: Hilfenhaus 30-7-109-4 (4nb) Siddle 21.3-3-89-3 (5w) Hauritz 18-2-57-1 Johnson 21-1-92-2 (5nb, 1w) Watson 3-0-23-0 Australia: Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Marcus North, Graham Manou (wkt), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus Toss: Australia Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (RSA) and Aleem Dar (PAK) TV umpire: Richard Kettleborough (ENG) Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)