MELBOURNE: England retained the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years by completing an emphatic innings and 157-run win over Australia before lunch on Wednesday’s fourth day of the fourth test.
England’s victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground means it travels to the final test in Sydney starting Sunday with a 2-1 series lead, but as the Ashes-holder, England needs only to draw the series to keep the urn.
Tim Bresnan claimed the final wicket and his fourth of the innings when Ben Hilfenhaus was caught behind for a duck to dismiss Australia for 258. Last batsman Ryan Harris could not bat due to a foot injury.
”We’re very excited right now. It’s a special occasion the MCG game. And to come out here and retain the Ashes will live long in all our memories,” England captain Andrew Strauss said.
The England team completed a lap of honor to the cheers of a vocal MCG crowd dominated by England’s ‘Barmy Army’ fans.
Brad Haddin brought up a gutsy half century in an 86-run eighth-wicket partnership with Peter Siddle, but they could only delay the inevitable. Haddin ended the match on an unbeaten 55 with four boundaries and a six.
After Australia resumed on 169-6, Chris Tremlett dismissed Mitchell Johnson in the second over of the day when the tailender edged a seaming delivery onto his stumps without adding to his overnight score of 6.
Siddle was caught by Kevin Pietersen at long-on off a Graeme Swann ball for 40. His aggressive innings came off 50 balls with four fours and a six.
The Australian lineup was reduced to ten batsmen after paceman Harris broke down with a stress fracture to his left ankle Tuesday. Harris, 31, is almost certain to require surgery.
Australia’s loss looked inevitable from day one when it was dismissed for a paltry 98 in two rain-shortened sessions on the first day.
A capitulation became inevitable early on the third day when England replied with a first-innings total of 513 for a massive 415-run lead.
”It’s pretty hard to accept,” Australia captain Ricky Ponting said of the Ashes defeat. ”They showed us how to bat in a test match.”
Bresnan claimed the vital wickets of Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey after tea Tuesday to become the architect of yet another poor Australian batting performance.
Bresnan, who replaced Steven Finn in England’s bowling attack for the fourth test, ended the innings with figures of 4-50. Tremlett had 1-71, Anderson had 1-71 and Swan finished with 2-59.
Shane Watson provided Australia’s second highest score of the match with 54, while the England lineup featured knocks of 168 from man of the match Jonathan Trott, 85 from Matt Prior and 82 by Alastair Cook, proving the MCG wicket had plenty to offer the batsmen.
Siddle’s bowling provided the only highlight for the Australians, taking 6-75.
Johnson, who took 9 wickets in Australia’s 267-run win at Perth in the third test, was far less effective in Melbourne, conceding 134 runs for his two wickets.
Australia captain Ponting’s future has come under intense scrutiny in the light of the series loss, his failure with the bat, a finger injury and his unseemly remonstrations with the on-field umpires Monday after having a reviewed decision ruled not out.
After making just 10 runs in Australia’s disastrous first innings, Ponting was unable to make amends and managed 20 in the second.