|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
January 5, 2007
Fittingly, it was Glenn McGrath who took centre stage in his final appearance at his home ground, the SCG. After Shane Warne's heroics with the bat, McGrath took over with the ball, grabbing 3 for 38 in 21 typically metronomic overs, before Justin Langer - in partnership with his best mate, Matthew Hayden - rattled off the necessary 46 runs in just 11 overs.
It was Hayden who sealed the win, clubbing Sajid Mahmood for six then, after a consultation with Langer, slapping the next for four past point, but McGrath, Langer and Shane Warne were the inevitable stars of the show. McGrath, ever one to rise above the emotion, started the festivities with his third ball of the day. He scalped Kevin Pietersen, England's last hope, before instigating the run-out of the nightwatchman, Monty Panesar.
In his desperation to score England's first runs of the morning, Chris Read took off for a suicidal single to Australia's best fielder, Andrew Symonds, who pinged the top of middle stump from ten yards, with Panesar still a foot short. Read was himself then blasted from the crease by a Brett Lee lifter deflected to second slip, before McGrath bowled Sajid Mahmood off the pads for 4.
Warne, to a raucous ovation, then entered at the Paddington End for his final spell in Test cricket, and the last rites of England's innings developed into a mini-tussle between Australia's two champions, as McGrath and Warne fought for the honour of claiming the last wicket of the innings, and of their Test careers.
Warne so nearly won the race via a stumping, as Adam Gilchrist whipped off the bails with Steve Harmison's back foot shuffling back towards the crease, and the drama was intensified by a five-minute wait for the not-out verdict, as umpire Peter Parker studied the replay from all angles. And in the next over, the dream conclusion was narrowly missed, as James Anderson edged McGrath inches short of Warne at first slip.
Harmison did at least club a clutch of defiant boundaries to carry England to the drinks break, but upon the resumption, McGrath could be denied no longer. Anderson swished at the sixth ball of his next over, and Michael Hussey at midwicket pocketed the simplest of catches. McGrath had signed off with three wickets in the innings, six for the match, 21 for the series, and 563 for a magnificent 124-Test career. And Australia needed just 46 to win.
They started watchfully, adding just ten runs in the first five overs, but there were no alarms as a dispirited England team went through the motions to the strains of "The Last Post" from the Barmy Army bugler. The scenes at the end were euphoric and poignant, with Warne, McGrath and Langer leading the lap of honour, as a mighty era of Australia cricket ended in the most immensely fitting manner imaginable.
Dismissal of the day
Kevin Pietersen was England's only hope for a miracle, but Glenn McGrath snuffed that dream by catching his edge with the third ball of the morning. It was vintage McGrath and a fitting farewell.
Man of the Match
Stuart Clark's five wickets for the game earned the prize, which was a fine reward for a series in which he chipped in with at least a victim in every innings. He finished with 26 at 17.03, a total he achieved without a five-wicket haul.
Speech of the day
There was a fair bit of competition, but Clark wins easily for telling his wife and young son how much he loved them in front an almost-full SCG.
Tunes of the day
The trumpeter showed his full repertoire today, mixing pop, rock and patriotism. The Way We Were was on the song sheet along with Oasis' Don't Look Back in Anger, Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer, Rule Brittania and The Last Post.
What England didn't need to hear
"It was the best Harmy's bowled all series," Justin Langer said after Australia had knocked off the 46 for the series whitewash. England had been waiting for Steve Harmison to turn up since they arrived in November.
Billboards are calling the series England's Indian Summer, but it is India who are looking for that period of warmth, redemption after the last whitewash, for they have seen how bleak the winter that can follow is
Accommodation for a great player like Jacques Kallis should be made with careful consideration and South Africa cannot get carried away with sentiment
The present Indian bowling line-up will tackle its first five-Test series without the proven guidance of Zaheer Khan, their bowling captain. India had unravelled without him in 2011. Will they do better this time around?
From two embattled captains to the challenge for India's openers against the new ball, ESPNcricinfo picks five contests that could determine the series
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches
Shakib Al Hasan trained with his team-mates as the BCB directors held their meeting in Mirpur, unaware of the massive punishment he was about to be hit with