Australia win final Ashes test to clinch series 4-0
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia thrashed England by an innings and 123 runs to win the fifth and final Ashes test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday and complete a comprehensive 4-0 series victory.
The one-sided match ended just after lunch on the fifth day when Australia bowled the tourists out for 180 in its second innings after the England captain Joe Root retired hurt on 58 and his team’s lower order offered little resistance to the hosts.
Australia had already regained the Ashes by winning the first three tests and only missed out on a 5-0 series sweep when last week’s fourth match in Melbourne ended in a draw.
“It’s been a great couple of months. The cricket we’ve played has been outstanding,” Australia captain Steve Smith said.
“All the bowlers have taken over 20 wickets, we haven’t relied on one. Scoring big runs in the first innings has been the key for us.
“England had their foot in the door in all of the test matches, they’ve played some exceptional cricket. We’ve just been able to get back on top in those key moments and not let them back in the game, which is crucial.”
Root was too sick to attend the post-match presentation so Jimmy Anderson deputized for him, telling the crowd his team had been thoroughly beaten over the series.
“To be honest, we’ve been outplayed in the key moments of each game. We’ve been in the games to an extent, but we’ve just not been able to capitalize on the opportunities,” Anderson said.
“Credit to Steve (Smith) and his team, they’ve played fantastically well throughout the series and were the far better side.
“They’ve got a fantastic bowling attack. And all the batsmen have scored runs when the team needed them. Ourselves, that’s where we slipped up. We’ve not scored the amount of runs you need to win a series like this. As a bowling group, not created enough pressure for long periods of time.”
Root missed Monday’s start of play after being taken to hospital before the resumption because of a stomach bug, and although he did come out and bat through to lunch, briefly giving the embattled tourists hope of salvaging a draw, he did not return for the second session.
With Root absent, Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins blew away the lower order after the interval to finish with 4-39 and earn the player of the match award, while spinner Nathan Lyon took 3-54.
“It’s a great feeling within the squad. We’ve been very well led this series. In my eyes, it’s the best bowling attack in the world,” Lyon said.
“As a squad, I think we’ve got all the bases covered well and truly. It’s been an amazing summer. It’s pretty special to be 4-0 up in an Ashes series, get that urn back.”
Moeen Ali joined Jonny Bairstow at the crease at the start of the day, with England resuming on 93-4, after Root arrived late to the ground still recovering after suffering from vomiting and diarrhea.
Ali, who has had a mostly torrid series with bat and ball, survived for 43 balls before being trapped leg before wicket by Lyon for Australia’s only breakthrough before lunch.
It was the seventh time in nine innings that Ali has been dismissed by the Australian spinner, prompting speculation whether he will retain his place in the team for England’s upcoming tour of New Zealand.
Root received a standing ovation from the sparse crowd as he made his way to the middle, and despite feeling unwell, he appeared composed at the crease and quickly raised his fifth half-century of the series came with a flick to fine leg off Lyon for three.
Root and Bairstow safely steered the tourists to lunch, but when the English skipper failed to reappear at the re-start, England’s demise came about quickly.
Cummins trapped Bairstow lbw for 38 to remove the last recognized batsman and then bounced out Stuart Broad (4) and Mason Crane (2).
Josh Hazlewood (1-36) then ended the match by having Anderson caught behind for two, triggering celebrations from the Australians.
Australia’s victory was set up by a dominant performance with the bat.
After dismissing England for 346, Australia made 649-7 in reply, for a lead of 303 runs, after Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Mitch Marsh all scored centuries.
Exhausted after spending two days in the field under a scorching sun, England’s top order collapsed on day four, leaving Australia needing just six more wickets on Monday to complete a 4-0 series win.
Smith was named player of the series after scoring 687 runs, including three centuries, at an average of 137.40.
“I love being out in the middle and doing the job, and trying to lead from the front for my team. My mind is probably in as good a space as it’s been with my batting at the moment,” Smith said.
“Making good decisions consistently. I’m really proud of the way I’ve played throughout this serious and have been able to lead from the front.”