Aussies lose Ashes on home soil

Ausfailure sh!thouse even at cricket now

AUSTRALIA 98 and 9-258 (Haddin 55no, Watson 54, Bresnan 4-50) lost to ENGLAND 513 (Trott 168no, Cook 82, Siddle 6-75) by an innings and 157 runs.

ENGLAND’s 24-year wait to leave Australia with the Ashes is over.

The visitors needed just under 20 overs on day four to claim Australia’s final three wickets – with paceman Ryan Harris unable to bat due to a stress-fracture in his left ankle. Tim Bresnan’s fourth wicket of the innings, having Ben Hilfenhaus caught behind for a duck at 11.53am, sealed the fourth Test victory by an innings and 157 runs.

While Australia can theoretically level the series 2-2 in Sydney next week, that would be inconsequential because England only needs to draw the series – which is already guaranteed – to retain the Ashes.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting left the MCG earlier on Wednesday to have X-rays on his fractured left little finger, an injury which he carried into the fourth Ashes Test.

Ponting, who hurt his finger while trying to take a catch in the Perth Test, could be in doubt for the fifth Test starting in Sydney on January 3.

British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated the England cricket team for their ‘‘brilliant performance’’.

‘‘Congratulations to the England team and Captain Andrew Strauss on a brilliant performance Down Under,’’ said Cameron in a statement from his office.

‘‘Retaining The Ashes for the first time in almost a quarter of a century marks a very special end to the year for sports fans and a great late Christmas present for the country.

‘‘I look forward to welcoming them to Downing Street when they return.’’

Australia began day four in Melbourne 246 runs behind with only three wickets in hand. It took only 11 deliveries for England to breakthrough, with Mitchell Johnson playing onto his stumps off his inside-edge off the bowling of Chris Tremlett.

Johnson’s departure exposed the genuine tailenders, although Peter Siddle continued his better-than-expected batting form, putting on 86 runs with Haddin for the eighth wicket.

Australia’s hopeless position in the match did not seem to daunt Haddin. The wicketkeeper played with confidence, particularly the straight drives off pacemen that he is renowned for.

Haddin reached his stoic half-century in the second over after drinks. Siddle gave the home fans another reason to cheer from the very next delivery by clubbing Graeme Swann over the mid-wicket boundary for six.

The England off-spinner’s first 22 overs cost 23; his next four cost 35. But he strike back in his 27th over. Siddle tried to blast him over his head but the did not connect quite as much as necessary, allowing Kevin Pietersen to run around from long-on to claim the catch just inside the boundary. Siddle’s Test-best innings of 40 came from just 50 deliveries and featured four boundaries and that six off Swann.

Hilfenhaus’ dismissal meant Haddin finished unbeaten on 55. Again, he had batted with a level of skill and patience superior to most of his specialist-batsmen teammates.

England won by innings & 579 runs at The Oval, London, August 1938
England won by innings & 230 runs at Adelaide, March 1892
England won by innings & 225 runs at Melbourne, February 1912
India won by innings & 219 runs at Kolkata, March 1998
England won by innings & 217 runs at The Oval, London, August 1886
Pakistan won by innings & 188 runs at Karachi, September 1988
England won by innings & 170 runs at Manchester, July 1956
England won by innings & 157 runs at the MCG, December 2010
England won by innings & 137 runs at The Oval, London, August 1888
South Africa won by innings & 129 runs at Durban, February 1970

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