Australia has scored a morale-boosting victory and sent retiring duo Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers out as winners, crushing England by an innings and 46 runs inside four days of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.
It was not enough to prevent a 3-2 series defeat, but the result finished a overwhelmingly dismal tour on a bright note.
England resumed at 8/107 on Day 3, but after some resistance from Moeen Ali (30) and Mark Wood (24) – the innings’ two top scorers coming in at No.8 and No.10 – both fell to Mitchell Johnson in consecutive balls, the hosts all out for 149.
With a 332-run lead, Clarke went against his usual strategy and enforced the follow-on. Adam Lyth (10) capped a dreadful series by falling to Peter Siddle with the score on just 19, before Ian Bell (13) and Joe Root (11) produced their second failures of the Test, out to Mitchell Marsh and Johnson respectively.
Alistair Cook was holding down one end admirably, but Nathan Lyon bagged the wickets of Jonny Bairstow (26) and Ben Stokes (0) in the space of five balls to put England right on the heels at 5/140.
Agonisingly, Cook was caught by Adam Voges at short leg off Steve Smith’s first over since the second Test of the series, with only two overs of the day remaining.
England started Day 4 at 6/203, needing another 129 runs just to make Australia bat again. A belated handy knock from struggling Jos Buttler came to an end at 42 courtesy of Marsh, before Siddle trapped nightwatchman Wood for 6.
The rain provided the hosts with a stay of execution, but Siddle wrapped up the win by removing Stuart Broad (11) and Ali (35) after lunch.
Clarke deservedly finished as the captain of a winning side, but he had to hand over the Ashes urn Australia had won so emphatically on home soil less than two years ago.
Stud of the day
Peter Siddle enjoyed a sparkling return to the Test arena after his contentious recall, taking 4/35 in England’s second innings to finish with match figures of 6/67.
Stud of the match
Steve Smith’s sparkling 143 laid the platform for Australia’s relentless march towards a face-saving victory.
Smith’s capture of Cook’s wicket late on Day 3 virtually snuffed out any miniscule chance England had of digging their way out of trouble on the last two days.
Australia has more than two years to brood over their Ashes defeat, with the next series set down for the 2017-18 summer – and it safe to say only a handful of the current line-up will still be there when that rolls around. Expect big changes for the upcoming series against Bangladesh and New Zealand. The series triumph also papered over some cracks for England, who will also be looking to replace some underperforming members of their batting order ahead of October’s series against Pakistan. But for now, it’s on to the limited overs stuff between Australia and England, with a one-off T20I next Monday and an intriguing five-match ODI series.
- England has won five of the last seven Ashes series dating back to 2005.
- Day 5 was not required in any of the five Tests in this series – the first such occurrence in Ashes history.
- Incredibly, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad notched the most partnership runs for England in the series (270). Ian Bell and Joe Root were next with 246.
- Alistair Cook averages 126.3 in follow-on innings.
- Adam Lyth’s series average of 12.77 was the second-worst by an Ashes opener that has batted at least eight times; Graham Gooch (12.12 in 1981) holds the unwanted record.