Jan 7, 2011

2nd ashes win for England after 24 years

England claimed a first Ashes series triumph in Australia in nearly a quarter of a century in the most emphatic style on Friday (7th January 2011) after wrapping up a third dominant innings victory in five Tests.

The tourists, who had already ensured they would retain the Ashes, needed a little more than 17 overs to remove Australia's last three batsmen on day five of the final Test to win the series 3-1 with an innings and 83-run victory.

Free entry had ensured a 19,000 crowd watched the tourists perform the final rites and it was dominated by the red and white clad England fans of the Barmy Army, whose songs and chants echoed around the famous Sydney Cricket Ground.

They celebrated wildly as England, just twenty four years after suffering a first Ashes clean sweep in 86 years, matched the achievement of Mike Gatting's touring party of 1986-87.

The England players did a lap of honour after being awarded the crystal trophy that symbolises the tiny urn, deemed too fragile to travel the world.

"We can ... be proud of what we've achieved because not many teams have come out here and won and certainly not many as emphatically as we did in the end," said England captain Andrew Strauss.

"So it's going to be a dressing room full of pride and probably a bit of alcohol as well."

Australia have lost series by bigger margins but in more than 130 years of Test cricket they had never conceded three defeats by an innings or more in a series against any country.

Michael Clarke, whose own form in the series was patchy at best, could have asked for a better time to assume the captaincy, albeit temporarily, from the injured Ricky Ponting.

The 29-year-old conceded his team had been outplayed "in every facet of the game" over the last two months, but did not think it was a time to panic.

"I don't think there's a crisis in Australian cricket at all," he said. "We need a lot of improvement in our game, in all areas. But I do believe we have the talent and potential in that change room to do it.

"We've seen through this series that guys have stood up at different times, but we're way too inconsistent to win a big series. That's what England have shown as a team, they have outplayed us, not one or two individuals."

One individual who did make a difference was England opener Alastair Cook, who was named Man of the Match for the Sydney Test and won the Compton-Miller medal as Man of the Series.

Cook made 189 in Sydney and 766 runs at an average of 127.66 over the fives Tests, the second highest by an Englishman in an Ashes series.

"I honestly can't believe what I've just done, or the team. We'll sit and enjoy what we've done today and think about tomorrow tomorrow," said the 26-year-old.

It was Cook's unbeaten 235 in the first Test in Brisbane that rescued England from a perilous position to force a morale-boosting draw and, the Perth defeat aside, England never looked back.

"Thankfully as the series has gone on we've become more dominant and certainly the last two Test matches were as good as an England side I've played in has performed," said Strauss.

After the drawn first Test in Brisbane, England won the second in Adelaide by an innings and 71 runs before Australia fought back to claim the third in Perth by 267 runs.

England again dominated the fourth Test in Melbourne with an even more comprehensive victory, an innings and 157 runs, to ensure they would retain the urn they won back from Australia last year in England.

After four dominant days in Sydney this week, just three wickets were required to secure victory on Friday morning.

Resuming their second innings on 213 for seven, still 151 runs behind England's gargantuan first knock of 644, Australia needed to bat out the last day if they were to claim a draw.

Morning rain showers looked like being their best hope but once they cleared after a 40-minute delay, England's march to victory was only a matter of time.

Peter Siddle, who had taken six wickets including a hat-trick on a rampant first day of the series at the Gabba, was the first to go for his highest Test score of 43.

The seamer was furious with himself after spinner Graeme Swann tempted him into a sweep which James Anderson caught at the boundary in front of the ranks of jubilant England fans.

England took the new ball two overs later and an Anderson fizzer soon had Ben Hilfenhaus caught behind for seven for the outstanding quick bowler's 24th wicket of the series.

Debutant Michael Beer was the final wicket to fall, bowled by Chris Tremlett for two to leave Steve Smith unbeaten on 54 and Australia all out for 281, one run more than their first innings tally.

"I think when you look back at the history of Ashes confrontations, I think what we've achieved here will be remembered pretty fondly," said Strauss.

Australia drops to 5th place after ashes defeat to England

Australia have dropped to fifth place in the Test rankings after losing the Ashes series to England, who edged closer to second-placed South Africa on the latest official list issued on Friday (January 7, 2011).

Third-placed England went into the series with 112 ratings points and have added three to their tally following their comprehensive 3-1 victory in Australia, the International Cricket Council said in a statement.

England now trail South Africa by two rating points after Graeme Smith and his men drew the three-match home series against table-topper India 1-1.

For Australia, their first Ashes defeat on home soil in 24 years cost three ratings points and dropped them behind Sri Lanka.

South Africa started against India on 116 ratings points and gained just one while the drawn series cost India one point but they continue to lead on 128.

New Zealand have an opportunity to rise to the sixth place if they can beat Pakistan in the two-Test series that started in Hamilton on Friday.

Australia is totally outplayed by England, says Shane Watson

Australia's Shane Watson says his team have been "totally outplayed" by England as the tourists close in on a 3-1 Ashes series win.

With one day of the fifth and final Test in Sydney remaining, Australia are 213-7 in their second innings, still 151 short of making England bat again.

"We had so much to play for in this game but we've been totally outplayed again," said opening batsman Watson.

"They've continually stood up, all of their players, throughout the season."

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior enjoyed what he called "the best day of my career" as he hit 118 of England's 644 runs, then took four second-innings catches.

"It was phenomenal," he said. "It will go down as one of, if not the, best day of my career.

"The atmosphere and support we've had from the Barmy Army all tour has been phenomenal and this has been a great day for England.

"The guys did all the hard work [on day three] and I was able to come and take the initiative, play some attacking shots and ride my luck, and thankfully it was my day."

Before the start of day four, England batsman Paul Collingwood revealed he would be retiring from Test cricket at the end of the series, aged 34.

The 34-year-old Durham batsman, who has scored 4,259 runs in 68 Tests, had one of his quieter days as England looked to secure a third victory by an innings over Australia in the series.

"It's been a fantastic day and hopefully we'll finish it off," said the Durham batsman.

"It was another great effort by all the bowlers on what is quite a flat pitch.

"We have played some exceptional cricket throughout the series and put them under a lot of pressure.

"We got a great score on the board and scoreboard pressure does a lot of funny things to the opposition.

"We knew we had to bowl well and the boys got the ball reversing again which was crucial."

Courtesy: BBC

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