ASHES 2015

Dominant England regain the Ashes

09 August 2015

Australia all out for 253 as England win fourth Test by an innings and 78 runs to reclaim the urn

Ashes 2015, Fourth Test


England regained the Ashes at 11.39am (8.39pm AEST) on a sun-struck Saturday morning at Trent Bridge, kicking off a party that will stretch the length and breadth of the islands until the urn is formally handed over at The Oval in London in a fortnight.

The series was technically decided when Nathan Lyon had his stumps spreadeagled in emblematic fashion, dragging the ball back on to his stumps in trying unsuccessfully to withdraw his bat.

QUICK SINGLE: Clarke retires from Test cricket

Although the result had been effectively known since the competing teams went to lunch on day one in Nottingham with Australia nursing a nasty bout of biliousness having been bowled out for a school team total of 60.

Having fought for more than four years to notionally wrest the tiny trophy - so precious and frail it's been confined to its London home for more than a century - from its progenitor and two years planning its retention on British soil, Australia have 'held' the Ashes for just 599 days.

And squandered them in less than 10 full days of Test cricket at Cardiff, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.

Watch: All Australia's second-innings wickets (restrictions apply)

Reports that swirled the ground prior to play resuming on the third and final morning suggested that Australia's failure had led to the decision of captain Michael Clarke to stand down from his post and the game at series end.

The skipper duly confirmed that to be the case in an interview with Shane Warne on Nine's Wide World of Sports, on the Trent Bridge sidelines.

England v Australia Trent Bridge Test 2015 // Getty Images

An away Ashes series win will elude Clarke again // Getty Images

Australia has now lost four consecutive Ashes series away from home, the worst trot on British soil since the late 19th Century when their colonial masters whipped them six times in a row.

A decade earlier, Australia had lost the Ashes for the first time in almost 30 years at the same venue against a similarly incredulous reaction at home as well as in England, and they have not looked like mounting a successful tour of the UK since.

And today's defeat by an innings and 78 runs was the heftiest Australia has suffered in an Ashes Test since the Sydney Test of the dire 2010-11 home summer that led to a sweeping review and root-and-branch change to Australia's cricket.

Despite those glaring statistics, the planning, preparation and – at times – propaganda (Steve Smith's pre-series trumpet that "if we play at our best (England) won't get near us" still echoes) gave no hint of the debacle that was to follow.

Voges posted a half-century on the third morning // Getty Images

Australia's tailenders, in company with their final remaining batsman Adam Voges, gave the impression they were hanging in there this morning to drag the foregone game as deep as they could.

The 35-year-old provided an isolated highlight for brave Australia fans who had turned up for England's celebration by posting his first half-century of the series, albeit four innings too late.

But in reality, the fact that they held out for six overs before finding a run off the bat this morning was because they struggled to lay bat on ball as it continued to hoop around, an element of the game that Australia has shown little capacity to negotiate.

Highlights: Voges half-century (restrictions apply)

Mitchell Starc, who spoke at the end of day two about the fact the sun would come up in the morning and that life would go on, lingered for 14 minutes before he waved his bat in the manner of so many who had come before him.

Three overs later, Josh Hazlewood went for the same score as Starc and in the same manner that his fast-bowling teammate had collected most of his day two wickets when a late swinging yorker from Mark Wood flattened his middle stump.

And the party started officially when Lyon dragged on, leaving the Australia spinner to rest crestfallen on his haunches for almost a minute while the England players formed a tight circle and danced a jig less than 50m away.

Nathan Lyon was the last man out // Getty Images

As Lyon rested his forehead on his bat handle and his stumps lay scattered like an upturned knitting bag, Voges stood stock still in his crease at the non-striker's end not sure whether to console his mate, congratulate the winners or blend silently into the crowd.

Even though the narrative of this campaign had been writ in larger and larger print since the defeat and Edgbaston and the day one capitulation in Nottingham, the scope and swiftness of England's triumph seemed to have rendered the Australians dumbstruck.

Perhaps they simply didn't want to return to a gloomy, dispirited dressing room.

But the story of the series rather than the footnote of the final day can be told in some select numbers that explain why the balance sheet drips so heavily in red ink on Australia's side of the ledger.

The loss of England's best-ever Test bowler Jimmy Anderson from this Test at the venue where his Test record is spectacularly peerless was supposed to bridge any gap that seemed to open up between the sides in the previous Test in Birmingham.

Australia set to return the urn

Darren Lehmann watches on at Trent Bridge // Getty Images

Yet Australia was embarrassed more severely than in any Test of the recent past by Stuart Broad on day one, and seam bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes – who admitted he rarely gets a chance to bowl in such advantageous conditions because he's not a frontline bowler – on days two and three.

Australia had chosen to sacrifice their seam-bowling all-rounder Mitchell Marsh in a pre-emptive strike to bolster their fragile batting, replacing him with his older brother Shaun who contributed 0 and 2 and seems destined to tread the same path as Clarke.

Broad's shrinking prowess with the bat was pilloried by some of the Australians in the lead-up to the series, his fallibility against the short ball even conceded by the man himself.

Yet he has scored more runs in the series than Australia's captain, and from two fewer innings.

Of course, Clarke is not the only player to finish this series with his star dimmed.

Australia's top three batsmen have scored heavily at times – mainly at Lord's on a flat pitch – but not when needed most.

Their pace bowlers have swung the ball but found control and pressure far more difficult to attain.

And the sense of panic within the camp has been palpable as personnel were shuffled at every opportunity and an inability to slow momentum when it built in the home team's favour a problem that built its own downhill speed.

Clarke may be the first victim of such a well planned yet spectacularly unsuccessful campaign, but others will surely follow

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