|Scorecard:||Australia v England|
|Event:||England in Australia 2013/14|
DateLine: 5th January 2014
By Andy Jalil at the SCG In association with ETIHAD AIRWAYS
Sydney – A truly magnificent performance by Australia who were given little hope before the start of the series, saw them emerge comfortable winners in the final Test, inflicting a 281-run defeat on England within just three days. With this brilliant display Michael Clarke’s side regained the Ashes which they had surrendered in 2009 before going on to lose the next two series as well. But now they fought back to become only the third Australian team to complete an Ashes whitewash in the game’s 140-year history.
For England the series produced a most humiliating display lacking in application and discipline and indeed at stages when there were opportunities to press home the advantage gained they showed no determination. Even in this fifth Test they twice had the chance to take control with the opposition reduced to 97 for five and 91 for four in the first and second innings but they failed to capitalise.
When things go wrong, as they have so drastically, it’s the captain mainly who takes the responsibility and there will, as a result, be immense pressure on Alastair Cook. Asked what went wrong and if that was as bad as it could possibly get, having arrived in Australia as favourites and with such high hopes, he said: “Yes, that’s fair to say, if I knew the answer I would be telling the guys (players).”
He added: “Today was a culmination of being under the cosh for four and a half games. And credit to Australia, I can’t even count how many sessions we won in the series. That’s a pretty daunting stat to take but a very realistic statistic so that batting (collapse) in the end was a culmination.”
On his thoughts of wanting to continue as captain after such a defeat and make a turnaround in the team’s performance, he said: “Hopefully I can make that change. I am desperate to turn it around. I feel I am the right man in the job to do it but if people higher up want a change then I have to take it on the chin because the result suggested.”
Having conceded a huge first innings deficit of 171, England needed 448 to win in two days plus a little under two sessions. But Australia’s superb bowling particularly by man-of-the-match Ryan Harris who finished with five for 25 had the batsmen struggling throughout the innings. Only Michael Carberry put up some resistance with 43.
Ben Stokes hit a quick 32 from just 16 balls and some lusty hitting by Stuart Broad whose 42 came from 36 balls with four sixes and three fours took England to 166. They lost the last seven wickets in ten overs within an hour into the final session in a most lamentable effort with the bat.
Earlier, it took England well over an hour after play resumed on the third day to break the fifth wicket stand after Australia had resumed their second innings on the overnight score of 140 for four. During that time Chris Rogers and George Bailey picked up runs steadily in a partnership of 109 at the rate of a-run-a-minute. Rogers, 73 overnight, brought up his second consecutive Test century from 145 balls with a lovely square cut for his 14th boundary.
Bailey lost his wicket on 46 when a poor stroke resulted in a catch at square leg and with Brad Haddin bowled by Scott Brothwick for 28, Australia were 239 for six. After Mitchell Johnson – who was named man of the series with 37 wickets from his magnificent fast bowling – departed five runs later Rogers was finally dismissed for 119, giving a return catch to Borthwick and that was 255 for eight. The leg spinner then struck again in the same over with the wicket of Harris before the innings was wound up on 276.
Australia’s delighted captain, Clarke, at being asked how it felt, said: “Extremely special, for a number of reasons. It’s a fantastic achievement by the same eleven (throughout the series) and the support staff.”
He added: “A lot of hard work has gone in, after the rollercoaster ups and downs of 2013 to get us up to where we are today and I couldn’t be prouder of my team-mates for the performance they put in throughout the whole series.”
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2013 Andy Jalil)