England have taken an unsurmountable 2-1 Ashes 2010/2011 series lead and, with only the Sydney test to play, therefore retain the Ashes they held going into this series following a crushing win in Melbourne’s MCG.
England lifted the fourth Ashes 2010/2011 test match by an innings and 157 runs after bowling out Australia for just 258 in their second innings.
The damage was primarily done on day one of this test match, when Australia were removed for just 98, thanks to four wickets apiece from James Anderson and Chris Tremlett, who were ably assisted by the contentious selection, Tim Bresnan, who bowled tight lines from his end, collecting a brace of his own in the process.
England’s batsmen then set about recording a painful 513 runs, with a half century or better coming from Strauss (69), Cook (82), Trott (168 not out), Pietersen (51) and Prior (85). Top scorers Trott and Prior showed good class, particularly following their culpability with the bat in England’s surprise humbling at Perth one match earlier.
This score meant that Australia had a chase of over 400 to stay in the series, and a draw looked like their only – dim and distant – hope.
It was to be a forlorn hope, as England, led by England’s most economical and most prolific second innings bowler, Bresnan, set about steadily picking off Australia’s batsmen. When Ponting (20), Clarke (13) and Hussey (0) fell in quick succession on Tuesday, the writing appeared to be on the wall. Bresnan accounted for Ponting (bowled) and the dangerous Hussey (caught Bell), en route to collecting 4 wickets for just 50 runs from 21.4 overs.
It was fitting, therefore, that it should be Bresnan who secured the win for England, as he collected Hilfenhaus, caught Prior – the wicketkeeper’s seventh catch in this test adding to his solid batting performance – prompting rapturous celebrations from the fielding side as Harris could not bat.
Australia were All Out for 258, still 157 runs short of England’s total, even added to their first innings score of 98.
Australia will hope to see more inspiration from their bowlers and more resilience from their batsmen in Sydney, if they are to prevent a first home ashes series defeat since 1986/1987. However, in doing so, they must meet an England side with their tails up, and full of confidence following their retention of this little urn that means so much.
England is celebrating retaining the Ashes, though there is a feeling that this is a job half finished, as England’s batting coach, Graham Gooch indicated:
“[England] won’t be thinking that this is over yet. They will want to go to Sydney and finish Australia off and win the series. That was the aim at the beginning of the tour.”
Australia have an immediate opportunity to avenge this humbling defeat. There could well be fireworks in Sydney in the New Year.