AUSTRALIAN players celebrate with the trophy after the final Ashes Test on Sunday.—Reuters
AUSTRALIAN players celebrate with the trophy after the final Ashes Test on Sunday.—Reuters

HOBART: Australia underlined their utter Ashes supremacy by crushing England’s hopes of a consolation victory and winning the day-night fifth Test by 146 runs with two days to spare on Sunday to seal a 4-0 series triumph.

Brittle English batting has been commonplace in the 11 years since the tourists last won a Test on Australian soil and the collapse under the Bellerive Oval lights was remarkable only in that it came with victory a possibility.

In the ascendancy for the first time in the series when they were 68 without loss chasing 271 towards the end of the second session, England lost 10 wickets for 78 runs in little more than an hour and a half to crumble to 124 all out.

Australia’s pace bowling was of the same high quality as it had been throughout the five matches, but some of the shots offered by the batsmen indicated that England had given up on any hope of even extending the contest into a fourth day.

Thumping victories in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne had secured the urn for Australia before the turn of the year and only by batting out the final day did England secure a draw in Sydney.

Australia captain Pat Cummins was quick to offer thanks to Joe Root and his squad for touring despite the health protocols in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but naturally his main thoughts were for his own side.

“It’s incredible,” Cummins told reporters. “Everything’s gone to plan, there’s just so many positives to take out of it and for this team to be part of Ashes history, it’s just been phenomenal.”

One of the few highlights of the series for the tourists has been the bowling of paceman Mark Wood and his career best 6-37 helped dismiss the hosts for 155 early in the second session to set England up for a shot at victory.

Wood’s extra pace has troubled a number of the Australian batsmen throughout the series and it proved a big factor during their second innings.

He had nightwatchman Scott Boland and first innings century-maker Travis Head both caught by Billings with only 22 runs added to the overnight score of 37-3.

He then enticed a mistimed hook shot from the dangerous Steve Smith, who hit it straight to Dawid Malan at deep fine leg, leaving Australia 63 for six.

Alex Carey, who top scored with 49, and all-rounder Cameron Green tried to rebuild the innings and took the score to 112 before Stuart Broad was reintroduced into the attack with immediate effect, trapping Green lbw for 23.

Wood then claimed his fifth wicket when Mitchell Starc was caught at short leg by Ollie Pope.

There was more drama next ball when a Wood yorker crashed into Cummins’ foot and he was given out lbw, but on review the ball was missing off stump.

Carey didn’t last long after the lunch break, playing a rash shot and edging to Billings. Four runs later, Wood finished Australia off when he clean bowled Cummins.

Rory Burns and Zak Crawley made a decent start to the chase with England’s highest opening partnership of the series but the match soon reverted to a more familiar script.

Green (3-21) began the rout when he dismissed Burns for 26 to bring up tea, returning after the break to remove Malan for 10 in similar style with the batsman chopping on.

Crawley had made 36 when he became the 22-year-old all- rounder’s third victim, and England were in serious strife when Ben Stokes holed out for five to Nathan Lyon at deep square leg off Starc.

Root got his side over the hundred mark but fell for 11 when a Boland delivery skidded low along the surface and into his off stump, leaving the England captain destined to head home still without a Test century in Australia.

Boland, playing only his third test, took 3-18 and Cummins 3-42 as they shared the last five wickets, leaving veteran England seamer Stuart Broad unbeaten on one in what is likely to be his last Test in Australia on an eventful day that saw 17 wickets tumble for the second successive day in the game.

So dominant were the fast bowlers, off-spinner Lyon did not bowl a ball in the entire match.

Cummins, who grabbed the last two wickets off three balls, led from the front in his first series as Australia captain and grabbed 21 wickets.

“It’s pretty crazy, even as a professional cricketer these are the series you have in your diary a couple of years out,” said Cummins. “Really feels like we are building to something big. To have someone like Cameron Green in his second year to grow as a batter and bowler as well as some of the younger players can’t wait to show our wares overseas, we really judge ourselves in all conditions.”

Australian batsman Head was named Man of the Series for his 357 runs, despite missing the Sydney match after contracting Covid-19.

His two centuries, including 101 in the first innings of the fifth Test, was one more than the whole England team managed on the tour.

Root remained the tourists’ lone fighter with 322 runs, behind only Head and Marnus Labuschagne (335).

“It hurts, it was a poor display with the bat today,” said Root, who said he would like to continue as England captain.

“It felt like we had a real opportunity to go and win this Test match and there were some very poor dismissals in there after a very promising start.

“Disappointing to be beaten as heavily as that when we felt very much in the game. At this level, you’ve got to bang out performances and we’ve not managed to do that at all on this trip.

“As a batting group, far too many times we’ve been bowled out for less than 200 and you’re never going to win Test matches if you don’t get runs on the board [and] too often we’ve not given our bowlers enough to work.”

Scoreboard

AUSTRALIA (1st innings) 303 (T. Head 101, C. Green 74; S. Broad 3-59)
ENGLAND (1st innings) 188 (C. Woakes 36; P. Cummins 4-45)

AUSTRALIA (2nd innings; overnight 37-3):
D. Warner c Pope b Broad 0
U. Khawaja c Billings b Wood 11
M. Labuschagne c Billings b Woakes 5
S. Smith c Malan b Wood 27
S. Boland c Billings b Wood 8
T. Head c Billings b Wood 8
C. Green lbw Broad 23
A. Carey c Carey b Broad 49
M. Starc c Pope b Wood 1
P. Cummins b Wood 13
N. Lyon not out 4

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-3, NB-1, W-1) 6
TOTAL (all out, 56.3 overs) 155
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0 (Warner), 2-5 (Labuschagne), 3-33 (Khawaja), 4-47 (Boland), 5-59 (Head), 6-63 (Smith), 7-112 (Green), 8-121 (Starc), 9-151 (Carey).
BOWLING: Broad 18-2-51-3, Woakes
11-3-40-1 (1nb), Robinson 11-4-23-0, Wood 16.3-2-37-6 (1w).

ENGLAND (2nd innings):

R. Burns b Green 26
Z. Crawley c Carey b Green 36
D. Malan b Green 10
J. Root b Boland 11
B. Stokes c Lyon b Starc 5
O. Pope b Cummins 5
S. Billings c Cummins b Boland 1
C. Woakes c Carey b Boland 5
M. Wood b Cummins 11
O. Robinson b Cummins 0
S. Broad not out 1

EXTRAS (LB-13) 13
TOTAL (all out, 38.5 overs) 124
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-68 (Burns), 2-82 (Malan), 3-83 (Crawley), 4-92 (Stokes), 5-101 (Root), 6-107 (Billings), 7-107 (Pope), 8-115 (Woakes), 9-123 (Wood).

BOWLING: Starc 8-0-30-1, Cummins 12.5-3-42-3, Boland 12-5-18-3, Green 6-1-23-3.
RESULT: Australia won by 146 runs.
SERIES: Australia won 4-0.
UMPIRES: Rod Tucker and Paul Wilson (both Australia).
TV UMPIRE: Paul Reiffel (Australia).
MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (Australia).

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022

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