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Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 4th day
Australia complete the wipeout
January 5, 2007
Ricky Ponting - man of the series
 
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The Ashes finished at the SCG exactly the same they started at the Gabba with England in disarray. Any hope that England might put up a fight and give Australia something decent to chase that would have given the England bowlers a sniff of victory - that was snuffed out in the first over when Glenn McGrath got rid off Kevin Pietersen. Just to cap it off for England we had Monty Panesar run out with a brilliant piece of fielding by Andrew Symonds. Two wickets even before England got their scoring underway.

Chris Read was out, as he was out in the first innings, dabbling outside his off-stump. He is a fine wicket-keeper, but he has got some technical problems that'll sort him out in Australia. So three wickets fell quickly, it eventually got down to Steve Harmison and James Anderson showing a bit of resistance and stretching the runs Australia needed to chase 46. But McGrath, who bowled so beautifully to get rid off Pietersen, produced a clinker and then a slower ball to finish off his magnificent career with a wicket.

So it was Warne and McGrath walking off the field to a standing ovation from the crowd having exceeded the 1000-wicket mark, in Test cricket, as a combination in matches they played together. That's going to be hard for Australia to replace. Virtually, 10 wickets per Test match that pair took between themselves. So Australia required 46, this left the door open for Justin Langer the other retiree to do his little bit in the send off. Langer was on the receiving end of a spirited attack from Harmison and to a lesser degree from Anderson. This prompted a question - why at this time, when it did not matter, why was Harmison taking the new ball? He was the guy England desperately needed earlier in the series to be taking the new ball and cause problems to the Australian openers.

Mathew Hayden had decided that he had had enough of his little mate being pummelled, he went after the bowling, a couple of boundaries, things loosened up for the Australians, and finally it was Hayden with a huge six and a shot to clean up the winning runs and Langer and Hayden marched off triumphantly. Australia won by 10 wickets and completed the 5-0 whitewash. In 2005, every time England needed something Andrew Flintoff answered the call with the bat or ball and this time around Flintoff, the captain, was unable to bring anything out of the team in those critical moments.

A great year in Australian cricket finishes. Langer will be replaced and probably be replaced fairly comfortably but the other two McGrath and Warne, not so easily. McGrath would be missed less than you'd have thought 12 months ago now that we have Stuart Clark, who is doing a terrific job. But there's still that huge hole - Shane Warne. Stuart McGill, yes he's a fine spin bowler, but he'll be the first to admit he's no Warne.

What was in many ways an interesting Ashes series - there was some good cricket played and England contributed to some of that good cricket, but they weren't able to do it consistently enough to push Australia. England go away with their tail between their legs and I don't think they have much to look forward to, so bad has been their one day play in recent times. It's a bleak outlook for those Englishmen who remain behind. Hopefully they'll find some resolve that they weren't able to find in the Ashes series and make the one day series competitive.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist


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