England have won the final Ashes 2010/2011 test match at Sydney’s SCG by an innings and 83 runs, giving them a 3-1 series victory in addition to the Ashes retention they had already secured.
The series win is England’s first clear Ashes victory in Australia since 1986/87.
England won this fifth and final test match by first bowling out Australia for 280 in the first innings, before amassing 644 runs courtesy of century scores from Cook (189), Prior (118) and Bell (115). The English team batted right through, however, as Strauss (60), Pietersen (36), Swann (36) and Bresnan (35) all made valuable contributions to the cause, on a day and a half when Australia failed to make any impact with the ball on a steady track.
England then bowled out Australia for 281 in their second innings to take the test match in front of a raucous crowd – with the gates having been opened for free on day five – courtesy of three wickets apiece from Anderson and Tremlett, a brace from Bresnan and one wicket for Graeme Swann.
It was Swann who made the breakthrough on the final day, after a slow morning.
Having resumed play on 213 for 7 wickets, Siddle (43) and Smith (54 not out) batted their way through the first 25 minutes of play, before the rain came, and the players were ushered in for a break.
Just under an hour later, the players came back out, and, with the new ball about to come into play, Siddle’s patience finally gave out and he attempted a slog sweep from Swann, which Anderson pouched.
Within six further overs, the match, and the series, was over.
Anderson took Hilfenhaus (7) caught Prior, before Tremlett finished up by clean bowling Beer (2), to secure England’s 3-1 series win – the third victory by an innings in the series.
England’s win here was a true team effort, as their series victory has been, though superb stand-out play, such as the solid batting performances from Man of the Series and SCG Man of the Match, Alistair Cook, coming in almost every match has pushed them over the line with a little in hand each time they have put things together.
But for one phenomenal Mitchell Johnson bowling spell in Perth, the series could already have been wrapped up, such was England’s dominance for much of The Ashes 2010/2011.
The Australian media has been hyper-critical of its team, perhaps unfairly comparing them to the incredibly successful previous generation of players, but England have proved themselves, both at home and abroad, to be a serious test match outfit.
While England certainly met an Australian side very much in a transitional period, history already shows that this is by far the best English cricket team for more than 20 years.
Australia will be hoping to put together a more competitive squad for the return visit in a couple of years time: if cricket can teach us anything, it is that one star can only shine for so long.
England should enjoy their time in the sun; they have certainly earned it.