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The Ashes: Crash, bang, wallop! Break out the champagne

Alexander Penny
alastair cook james anderson 2010 12 2 22 20 8 150x150 The Ashes: Crash, bang, wallop! Break out the champagne

James Anderson and Alastair Cook have tormented the Australians with bat and ball

It has been 24 years of hurt but no more as an all conquering England dispatched the Australians by an innings for the third time in the series. Not only was this a demolition, but a humiliation for Australia delivered to them by their old foes and is one that will be cherished by all England fans who witnessed the destruction.

The imminent victory was never going to be put on hold, despite the elements and Steve Smith (54 not out) taunting the English faithful to delay the inevitable. It is most certainly a day to savour if your an Englishman, while Cricket Australia has had a dark cloud hanging over it for some time now.

Despite the futile efforts, it was a brave and efficient performance by Smith who played his natural game with a couple of lusty blows included as the end drew near. To have remained unbeaten will be a personal bonus but there was never going to be any stopping a rampant England unit. Once Peter Siddle (43) holed out in the deep for his highest Test score, the wickets tumbled without mercy; Ben Hilfenhaus (7) nicked through to Matt Prior before Michael Beer (2) had his stumps rearranged by Chris Tremlett to begin the celebrations.

If you look at the facts, England have outplayed the hosts on all fronts; batting with discipline, bowling with precision and fielding with confidence, whereas the ’saggy greens’ as local media are branding them, have seen Australia fail to produce consistency in all these departments. The beleaguered Ricky Ponting averaged 16 over eight innings, Mitchell Johnson was as clueless to his next delivery as the rest of us, and even Graeme Swann averaged more with the bat than stand-in skipper Michael Clarke.

For a proud cricketing nation that had not been beaten by an innings at home in 17 years, this series has brought the team to their knees, a horrible feeling that will take some time to get back up from. A total of 16 players were used by Australia throughout the five Tests compared to England’s 13, only two through injury; a team simply cannot gel and build confidence if the selectors panic under every poor performance.

Marcus North, Xavier Doherty and Doug Bollinger never got going by any means, but the manner in which the constant chopping and changing took place, it is no wonder confidence and faith was lost within the side. A long, hard look in the mirror is needed if positive rectifications are going to be made.

But where Australia failed England produced in the shape of Alastair Cook and James Anderson. The Lancastrian bowler’s return of 24 wickets set Andrew Strauss’s side up with a base for victory that the batsmen backed-up in extraordinary fashion, none more so than Cook who topped the run charts by a clear 196 runs over Mike Hussey.

What more could Strauss have asked for? His side have done what few had thought possible and he now joins Sir Len Hutton and Mike Brearley as England captains who have won the coveted urn in both countries.

On a near perfect day for England, Australian bowling coach David Saker extended his contract with the ECB for a further three years, banishing the memories of Troy Cooley who left for Australia after the 2005 Ashes campaign. So after knocking back one Beer it’s time to crack open the bubbly and usher in a new era of English cricket.

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