England closed out the second Ashes Test at Lords on Sunday, beating Australia by 347 runs to establish a commanding 2-0 series lead.
The tourists, in chase of a mammoth 583 target, were bowled out for 235 by the close of play meaning that the hosts now have clear daylight with three Tests left, the next being at Old Trafford in eleven days time.
In what will be a must win contest for Australia in order to save the series, England will be confident of hammering home another victory to claim the Ashes with two Tests to spare – a situation that they have been on the receiving end of in the recent past on more than one occasion.
The match looked evenly balanced at the end of the first day after England had struggled to 289/7 however their respectable final first innings total of 361 turned out to be crucial as Australia collapsed dreadfully in reply.
Michael Clarke and his men fell for just 128 giving England a 233 run buffer before Joe Root and Alistair Cooke even took to the crease for a second time.
And it was youngster Root who stepped up to the mark to record his maiden Ashes century, his presence still being felt at stumps on day three after anchoring England’s innings alongside, predominantly, Ian Bell who also in fine touch with a 74.
Resuming on Sunday morning, it was clear that an England declaration was pending dependent upon a possible double century for Root – a feat he eventually fell 20 runs short of after being caught by Smith off a Harris delivery.
Root, whose exploits unsurprisingly earned him the man of the match accolade, walked off to a standing Lords ovation as Cook gave the nod and Australia were set the unenviable task of chasing 583 runs for victory, or perhaps more realistically, the prospect of holding out for five sessions to save the Test.
Despite a gritty effort, it was as expected mission impossible and the Aussies were dismissed early in the evening to the delight of the England team who celebrated in traditional style, safe in the knowledge that they now have a day off to reflect on the events of the last four days.
Australia will undoubtedly be doing the same from a ‘what went wrong’ perspective and they will surely need to find the right answers before the series continues a week on Thursday in Manchester.