Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day December 29, 2010

England retain the Ashes with innings win


England 513 (Trott 168*, Prior 85, Cook 82, Strauss 69, Pietersen 51, Siddle 6-75) beat Australia 98 (Tremlett 4-26, Anderson 4-44) and 258 (Haddin 55*, Watson 54, Bresnan 4-50) by an innings and 157 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

England have retained the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years, after inflicting one of Australia's heaviest losses, with a margin of an innings and 157 runs on the fourth morning at the MCG. It took less than 90 minutes for England to collect the three wickets they needed for victory, and when Tim Bresnan picked up his fourth wicket, an edge behind from Ben Hilfenhaus, the celebrations began.

Bresnan finished with 4 for 50 and was mobbed by his team-mates when the final wicket fell, and the big collection of England fans at the MCG burst into full voice. It was a wonderful moment for England, who will now aim to turn their 2-1 lead into a series victory at the SCG next week, but as the holders of the Ashes before the tour they have done enough to retain the urn.

For the first time in history, Australia have lost two Tests in a home series by an innings, and the margin was their worst defeat in Australia in 98 years, and their eighth-worst of all time. There was some fight from Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle, who put together an 86-run partnership after the early loss of Mitchell Johnson, but it was only ever a matter of time for England.

During the Haddin-Siddle stand, both men cleared the boundary off Graeme Swann, providing something to cheer for the Australian fans who had turned up despite the certain result. Haddin's half-century came in 86 balls and Siddle posted his highest Test score, before the end came in a rush with Siddle and Hilfenhaus falling in quick succession, and the injured Ryan Harris unable to bat.

Johnson was bowled by Chris Tremlett in the second over of the day for 6 and it seemed like the morning's play would be over in a rush, before Haddin and Siddle came together. It took a while for the next wicket, Siddle (40) caught on the boundary straight down the ground when he slogged Swann, and England knew their goal was almost achieved.

Now, the questions turn to Sydney and what each team can achieve with the Ashes already decided. For England, the goal is obvious - win or draw and ensure they take the Ashes outright, rather than simply retaining them.

For Australia, the series can still be drawn, but they must decide whether to make changes, including whether to risk Ricky Ponting with his broken finger. Ponting had x-rays during the morning, and when he spoke straight after the defeat he didn't know the results, but was still hopeful of playing at the SCG.

"I've got a point to prove to myself and the team, with my performances in the past four Tests," Ponting said. "I will be doing everything I can to be ready for Sydney. I still think I've got a lot to offer the Australian cricket team."

"It's pretty hard to accept," Ponting said of the loss. "We haven't deserved it, that's the bottom line, haven't played well enough. It was tough, but wasn't a 98 all out wicket. They showed us how to bat. We can still level the series, which has got to be the motivation for us. Get to Sydney and salvage some pride. We've let ourselves down and our supporters down."

After the past 18 months were all geared towards regaining the Ashes, Australia's future must involve some changes. Andrew Strauss and his England team can celebrate a much-deserved triumph.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Marc on December 31, 2010, 16:30 GMT

    @ Racer_Gally Correct me if i'm wrong, but i've never seen Strauss say England ARE the no 1 team, just that that is what they are striving to become. Two very different things. If we want to become no 1 then yes, we'll have to beat India. Looking forward to that this summer.

  • Mark on December 31, 2010, 2:02 GMT

    @longdonkey I"m not saying the talents of the other states aren't good. It's just that NSW have better young talent.

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    If England have to be the top ranked test side in the world, they should replicate this performance in India and South Africa as well.

  • Mohamed on December 30, 2010, 12:35 GMT

    @ Trickstar, TheHoneymonster, philipm3 i would appreciate ur cricket knowledge... I m sorry to mention innings defeat in my comment.... But Strauss Won barely two tests and he talks about world no 1 team now.... wow give me a break.... Let us see how his team will perform in INDIA.... Ha ha ha.... World No 1 team England!!!!!!!!

  • Verleus on December 30, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    I think this victory against a sub standard Australia is being over hyped by the English,even talks about England being a possible No1 are going around..But really...England..!No 1!...Lets see if they can even get through at home against a good bowling attack like Sri Lanka...Some good bowling from Johnson in the 2nd test and they fell like a pack of cards...What'll they do when they face Malinga and Co.?And then the wizard Zaheer when India tour there..!Really,neither English bowling nor batting is comparable to that of India or SAF.Even Sri Lanka are better.And Graeme Swann-the best spinner in the world...??!!Lets see how he fares against the Indian team in July....people who can actually play against spin...As for ponting,sad to see him go after one series failure...what would have happened if we had removed Tendulkar in '05-'06..??Its unfair,and the poms deserve some payback,and they gonna get it from India and Sri Lanka this summer..!!

  • Nizam M. on December 30, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    Time for England to rise from the ashes like the Phoenix! Strauss and his knights have now gelled together as one team, rather than individual performers. That's a real good sign for the future of English Cricket. I wish though that Paul Collingwood recovers his form to show the world the worthy cricketer that he is, and has been all along in the past.

    Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan have come into their own during the current Ashes Series, and it would be worth noting now onward how England vies not only for the ICC World Cup, but also for the number one slot in the Test rankings. Good luck, England.

  • liam on December 30, 2010, 1:43 GMT

    Well bring on sydney and lets see if the aussies can win but i would like to see ponting dropped and bring in someone like khawaja or brad hodge who has been in great form for victoria and the player for harris i would have either bollinger or copland but england dersvered to win in melbourne when your out of 98 it is hard to make a comeback from there australia cant just reley on Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin to get then out of trouble but sometimes i feel sorry for the boys they al ways try there hardest i will be interesting to see who they pick today.

  • David on December 30, 2010, 1:35 GMT

    BigGeorgeMehemood said " Forget about all of that; Listen, this guy Bresnan from England- I never see for a long time a bowler like him; this guy remind me of Malcolm Marshall. Bresnan is a vicious bowler who can rip the ball off a good length. He is a dangerous bowler, I hope Eng. never drop him from the team. Wow." Listen Tim if you want to post on the forum I think you should do it under your own name and you know know yourself you're not fit to shine Malcolm Marshall's boots. As for all this talk about England being Number 1 - I think Australia being so poor has made them look a bit better than they are. Batting only Pieterson scares me although Trott is getting close but much more workman like reminds me of MArk Waugh on his legs but with a better temperament. Bowling none of them scare me but collectively get the job done.

  • David on December 30, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    Australia17594 moans " Stop complaining about NSW players. The reason they are chosen is because they are the best in Australia. Name a batsman that has better talent than khawaja?? Name a bowler better than Starc, HAzlewood, copeland? YOu can't." If they are so good how come they have won the Sheffield Shield 3 times in the last 16 years! I don't think anyone is saying that Khawaja shouldn't be next batsman in line for a Test place but listen to the NSW cricket mafia and you have the best 6 opening batsmen and I notice there are 6 NSW bowlers in the World Cup squad and NSW cricket mafia arguing that Bracken and Hazelwood should be in as well. Who is better than Starc, HAzlewood, copeland? Here's a list Johnson, Harris, Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Bollinger, Faulkner, Swan, Butterworth, Pattinson, George, Wright, McDonald, Dorey and on his record Duffield is close too.

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    "In the last two years, England have won five of the eight series they have played (including the current one), drawn one and lost one. Looks good, doesn't it? But who have they won against? Twice against Bangladesh, once against Pakistan and once against Australia. And yes, the one they lost was against West Indies.

    Not impressive. Not enough."

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