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Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day

Strauss joins Ashes elite, with the promise of more

Douglas Jardine, Len Hutton, Ray Illingworth, Mike Brearley, Mike Gatting... Andrew Strauss. In almost 80 years of Ashes combat, only six England captains have been able to win in Australia

Andrew Miller at the MCG

December 29, 2010

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Contrasting emotions for Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss, Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 29, 2010
Andrew Strauss has sensed the changing of an epoch, and his team has responded like no other England side of the past 40 years © Getty Images
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Douglas Jardine, Len Hutton, Ray Illingworth, Mike Brearley, Mike Gatting... Andrew Strauss. In almost 80 years of Anglo-Australian combat, only six England captains have been able to pack their bags at the end of a trip to Australia, and include in their mental baggage all of the triumph and joy that, almost since the dawn of the sporting age, has been invested in the legend of Ivo Bligh's little urn. Almost every other campaigner of the 20th and 21st Centuries has endured a return journey accompanied by despair, regret, recrimination and anger. Such is the hold of the Ashes, arguably the most storied trophy of them all.

For that reason, the achievement of Strauss's men is one that not only deserves to stand the test of time, but is already ensured of doing so - no matter that Australia still have the chance to square the series at 2-2 and restore a modicum of pride. As Shane Watson conceded on the third evening of this contest, possession of the urn is the only thing that counts, and the manner in which that prospect was shredded as early as the first afternoon at Melbourne was formidable to behold. Regardless of what happens at Sydney, Australia have been beaten by the better side; thrashed by an innings in half of the matches of the series.

It might be claimed in mitigation that the Aussies are not what they used to be - what team could be, given the losses of such champions as Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer? - but to tar the series with any such caveats would do a gross disservice to the ruthless, meticulous nature of England's preparations. Not since Illingworth was chaired off the field at Sydney in 1970-71 has a campaign been more brilliantly orchestrated, and not since Jardine made a mortal of Bradman in 1932-33 has a strategy been more perfectly conceived and carried out.

Australians right now will doubtless feel all the more wistful for the days of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne - in the 24 Tests in which both men were at his disposal, Ricky Ponting never lost a match and averaged 78.73; since their retirements he's lost 13 out of 42, and his average has plummeted to 41.03. But as Ponting himself conceded after the match, sport is cyclical - it is the seizing of opportunities as and when they arise that defines the greatness of a team or a player.

History has demonstrated that an Ashes victory in Australia is a once-in-a-generation achievement, and the general perception in the build-up to the 2010-11 Ashes was that this was England's moment - because if not now, then when? That in itself created a burden arguably greater than anything felt by Graham Gooch, Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain and Andrew Flintoff, the five most recent England captains to try their luck in Australia and depart with ambitions crushed.

With the exception of Gooch in 1990-91, who arrived in the batting form of his life and with the memories still burning of the exceptional challenge that his team had posed to the great West Indians the previous winter, each of those squads were written off almost before they had unpacked. Injuries and ineptitude undermined them from the off - the loss of key bowlers such as Devon Malcolm in 1994-95 or Darren Gough eight years later; the loss of respect through dreadful performances either in the bear-pit of Lilac Hill, or thrashings at the hands of the Australian Academy.

No such pitfalls were permitted on this trip, or rather, the pitfalls that did exist were not allowed to consume the campaign. The loss of Stuart Broad after two-and-a-half innings, for instance, was not only budgeted for, but actively anticipated, with each of the three reserve seamers earmarked a specific Test match in which their skills would come to the fore. Chris Tremlett's height was duly unleashed at the WACA, Tim Bresnan's stamina was set loose at the MCG, and by all accounts, Ajmal Shahzad would have featured on the reverse-swing-friendly Adelaide Oval, had it not been for Steven Finn's six wickets at the hit-the-deck Gabba.

And likewise, losses of the result variety were also expected, because this is Australia, and Australians can never be discounted, no matter how lowly their expectations may be. The Gabba, as it happens, was the venue where the England management had initially anticipated defeat, because of the fearsome reputation of the venue, and because of the danger of stage-fright at the start of such a hyped campaign (which, as they proved on that fretful first day, was a very real factor indeed), while the WACA had been earmarked for victory. But either way, the likelihood of resistance was encoded in England's planning, and with it the challenge and expectation of a weeble-like response to adversity.

Andy Flower's unparalleled record as a player who triumphed over adversity provided the squad with a director who demanded absolute respect, while David Saker's knowledge of Australia's venues armed his bowlers with intimate insights that enabled them to make the best possible use of their warm-up matches, in particular their reconnaissance trips to Adelaide and Melbourne, the scenes of England's two crushing victories.

The influence of Richard Halsall, the fielding coach, was seen in any number of galvanising moments - from Monty Panesar's flying catch in Hobart to the direct-hit run-out that Jonathan Trott pulled off in Adelaide - and he was deemed sufficiently integral to the squad to take over as head coach when Flower's skin cancer scare briefly took him out of the dressing-room in Brisbane. And then there was Graham Gooch, attached to the team only in a consultant role, but whose personal protégé, Alastair Cook, is now on the brink of 600 series runs. Kudos is due in every department, because it's not often that England get it this right.

The net result was that Strauss and his cohorts arrived in Australia with an intent that was the equivalent of Allan Border's invasion of England in 1989. Then as now, Border sensed the changing of an epoch - Ian Botham, the Warne of the 1980s, still endured as a personality, but his last hurrah had been at Melbourne two-and-a-half years earlier - and the challenge he put to his squad was to confound expectations. They did so with a ruthlessness that went on to establish a dynasty, which in itself is the challenge that now confronts England.

Strauss and Flower have said on many occasions that their true goal is to be the No. 1 team in the world. It's an ambition that is very much there for the taking, if the team can maintain its focus and drive on to the next level with the singlemindedness that eluded Michael Vaughan's men in 2005, when the sheer emotional overload of ending Australia's hold on the Ashes proved too much to kick on from.

The first clue that things can and will be different this time came back in 2009, when England's reaction to their home Ashes victory was a quiet night of revelry and an early flight to Belfast for a one-day international. The circumstances of that itinerary were far from ideal, of course, but they nipped in the bud any prospect of over-indulgence. England's celebrations were instead kept to a 6-1 ODI trouncing at the hands of the vengeful Aussies, an instant reality check which reminded the players of that old sporting truism, you're only as good as your last result.

Those are the mantras that keep the great teams grounded. "I think while you're still involved in the England side, if you're not still looking to keep pushing forward, there's something wrong there," said Strauss. Throughout history, for England to triumph Down Under has indeed been a once-in-a-generation achievement, but this squad is so well drilled, they actually believe they can make it a habit. Starting at Sydney in the New Year, of course.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by landl47 on (December 31, 2010, 1:20 GMT)

What makes those of us who actually follow cricket (as opposed to those who clearly don't have a clue) feel that England can be #1 is that England is producing a lot of very good young players at the moment, especially in the bowling department. Bowlers win matches and England has a lot of quality bowlers aged 25 and under: Bresnan, Shahzad, Broad, Rashid, Finn, Woakes and Harris. I don't see similar quality in any other country's young bowlers. There are also some very useful young batsmen, such as Adam Lyth, first to score 1000 runs in England this year at age 22, and Ben Stokes, 2 centuries and an average in the mid-40s at age 19. Strauss and Flower have laid the groundwork. Now it's for the veterans, Anderson, Swann, Tremlett, Pietersen, Trott, Bell and Strauss himself, to keep on the winning path until the young talent matures. The next 10 years look very exciting.

Posted by BillyCC on (December 30, 2010, 22:22 GMT)

Strauss' captaincy needs a bit of work if England want to reach No.1 in the rankings. At the moment, Strauss is captaining like Dhoni who is a naturally defensive captain unless he needs to win a Test match. That method works well for Dhoni because he has the world's best batting lineup in a firepower and technical sense. He also has strike bowlers and spinners who can dry up the runs. Strauss does not have the luxury of economical bowlers and nor does he have the strong batting lineup. He ran out of ideas at the Gabba, gave away too many easy runs in Perth with field placings and declared too late in Adelaide. The top teams won't be so forgiving.

Posted by ashes61 on (December 30, 2010, 18:24 GMT)

tmd1 : No-one denies that Pietersen and Trott are SA-born. Trott (and I believe KP) is a Brit passport holder, KP also having an English mother. Both have spent almost all of their 1st-class careers in English county cricket. However, I admit that their formative years & their early cricket was in SA & political conditions in SA have been English cricket's gain. However, the Strauss/Prior situation is COMPLETELY different & it would be ridiculous if they played for any other Test team. Strauss's parents brought him back to England aged 6, where he has been educated and has learnt all his cricket, apart from a v. brief Aus spell. Prior is an Englishman's son & was also brought back here as a boy, playing in local cricket here throughout his teens. This doesn't happen so much in Aus for obvious reasons. Remember - everyone wants to live in England & all cricketers want to play county cricket, so we are bound to have empire-born lads who learn their cricket here & become eligible.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2010, 14:44 GMT)

@tmd 1 - It's a fact of multicultural life. It has its good points and it's bad. The UK is - and has always been - a melting pot for many different races, Romans Vikings, Normans, Saxons, Celts. Have a government enquiry if you like. Shows how backward whatever country your from is. How many Maori's play for NZ? How many Aboriginies play for Australia? (Now the great "Dizzy" has retired).How many black players playing for South Africa at the moment?. At last count I saw two! It's just a matter of perspective. It would be illegal (not breaking an ICC or ECB law 0 but the law of the land) to prevent an English passport holder from plying a trade that he was clearly suitable at. The real question is..If Trott and Pietersen are so good...What's the problem with SA that made them want to leave? But Strauss and Trott were raised in the UK from a very early age (6 in both cases) Are you saying they were "born" with some SA gene in them? If you are then you need to do some research mate.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 30, 2010, 12:50 GMT)

ahahahahahahahahahahahahah they havent even won the series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! poms are so pathetic, south africa b is just getting lucky. order will be restored soon i reckon

Posted by WellLeft on (December 30, 2010, 7:20 GMT)

Excellent article, but its sad Andrew forgot to acknowledge Graeme Swann and Mushy's efforts in this article.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2010, 7:12 GMT)

What about Percy Chapman in 28-9 winning 4-1?Not bad....only Clive Lloyd can rival that record as a tiuring captain to Australia.

Posted by AMBH on (December 30, 2010, 5:13 GMT)

hey guys,afterall u had beaten a wounded 4th ranked aussies with one defeat. don jump straight to no 1,u cant do it in near future if like u guys england think then eng did a great mistake for there there downfall there are teams aruond the world developed n developing 100 times faster than england.eg.SL Bang,SA,IND, PAK.,its means consistency and performances.u ppl(ENG) established cricket but never mastered it hahaaha... so don dream with this win u lll get back soon from Aussies... so that time u ll be out of equation.don develop unnecessary rumours of becoming no.1.. its for me a great humour so....:).... 1st win a WC as a team Eng..

Posted by Predator89 on (December 30, 2010, 4:32 GMT)

@Martinc: the series between England and India gonna be a cracker.where India will put up a fight way better than what australia just did.Hope its 5 match series it will be awesome

Posted by   on (December 30, 2010, 3:32 GMT)

@sriram.petit:No. Warne had a finger injury and Hauritz made his debut in that match. So Andrew is indeed right. And the year was 2004 and not 2006.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2010, 3:25 GMT)

@Maximum6 England should also beat India at home or atleast save the series to prove they are number one, just like the English fans compelling India to win or save the SA series. Your comment that Indian attack is less threatening also means that you have not watched yesterday's match(specially the ball to Kallis). Pakistan is getting pinged by a much weaker NZ side and I would be surprised if they win the ODI series!

Posted by Rusty_1 on (December 30, 2010, 2:23 GMT)

It would be silly to say that England will never get to number 1 in test cricket, but it seems a pretty far strech. India & SA are clearly ahead of the rest of the pack at the moment. To get to No.1 and remain there, you need a couple of superstars. England's only superstar at the moment is Pietersen. Anderson, Swann and Trott are the next tier down - Trott needs to watch out that he does not do a Hussey and tank in his 2/3rd year. India have Tendulkar, Dhoni, VVS, Sehwag & Dravid - all superstars. Probrably the only thing letting them down is a superstar bowler, although Khan is close. SA have Steyn, Kallis, Smith & AB - all superstars. SA & India will continue to fight it out for the next 2-3 years until the Indian greats retire. England are clearly 3rd at the moment & Australia deserves 4th/5th. Regardless of recent form, Ponting is still Australias only superstar. A move down the batting order & dropping the captaincy will uncloud Pontings mind and restore his form.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 30, 2010, 1:21 GMT)

@Marcio; you can get 2/1 on an Australia win at Sydney. I can get 11/8 on England. The draw is 2/1 (LOL). Talk is cheap and you claim you like scaring bookies - so how much did you put on your team? Bookies seldom go out of business. "The key: get silly ego out of the way, trust ability, conditions and intuition". Perspective.... yes indeed, perspective.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2010, 0:54 GMT)

thianavi -- Once again, England is now the 3rd-ranked team, not 4th. Do keep up!

Posted by tmd1 on (December 30, 2010, 0:51 GMT)

It mind boggles me that everyone is so hyped about England.If Australia fielded 4 overseas born players there would be a government enquiry as to why they can't produce local born cricketers.It would appear to me that there is something wrong with the English system for producing local talent and victories gloss over it.At the moment in test cricket there are 15 South African born players,12 Australian born players 11 indian,Pakistani and only 7 English born players.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 29, 2010, 22:22 GMT)

If England win in sydney and can beat a Murali-less SL in the summer(surely they should) then India will be well within the compass of this team. The English have the better attack, and the batting is catching up. This is a long time away but time moves quite fast. To be honest the Pakistan attack did the england batting a whole heap of good because they seem quite a lot more threatenng than the Aussie one. The Indian attack is not better than Pak-just a little less controversial. The problem will be the indian batting-but Ponting Clarke have so far been reduced to also rans, so T'Kar etc may also come under deeper scrutiny.Logically if not numerically we are SA's equal at least. so No 1 is hardly a fantasy.

Posted by MartinC on (December 29, 2010, 22:18 GMT)

Andy

Re your comment re Cook being the only English batsman to score consistently in this series Jonathan Trott has scored two big hundreds and averages over 100 for the series. As for our attack lacking match winners it's a very balanced attack with the best spinner in the world, a top class swing bowler in Anderson , a couple of guys who can hit the deck in Broad and Tremlett and a developing talentnin Finn who might end up being the best of the bunch.

Morgan will replace Collingwoodnat number 5 or 6 soon and that will actually strengthen the batting.

It's going to be a really interesting series against India and I'm looking forward to it almost as much as the current Ashes series.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 21:01 GMT)

Great Achievement by Andrew Strauss's men. Flower and Strauss together have gelled together a very good, fighting team. Probably the 1st time since Ashes 2005 in England did we see England outclassing the opposition in every department.

On the serious note, its good to target the no. 1 position, keeping in mind the challenges of playing in the subcontinent. But surely an Ashes victory in Australia cannot be discounted so easily given how harshly have the previously visiting English captains had their ambitions crushed in the hands of a once-dominant Aussie Team.

Go England GO!!

Posted by Sportz_Freak on (December 29, 2010, 19:07 GMT)

One thing I dont think anyone has mentioned is that Ponting as of now stands at 99 test victories as a player. If the Aussies can pull off a victory at Sydney it will be no 100. it might be his last chance to do so as a loss or even a draw might spell the end for his great career. Even a win may not be enough. I dont think anyone else will every reach a 100 test wins. Cook or Greame Smith might come the closest. Aus need to rebuild before they start winning. An English player can do it if he isnt dropped suddenly ( pertains more to the english team of the 90s). India play too many draws. SL dont play enough tests. WI/NZ will never win a 100 tests. Pak will implode before they do it. In short, this is our ast chance to see someone to do. Go Ricky.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (December 29, 2010, 18:52 GMT)

I agree with several contributers that it is definitely premature to consider England as contenders for the no1 test playing spot. Whatever that means..... Frankly I'm a little tired of obvious India fans turning everything that happens in the cricket world into Indian news! Who's more likely to bounce back and thrash the opposition in the next tests..... Australia or South Africa? I know what I think....

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 18:46 GMT)

Those who think Indian batting line up is ageing ..the three musketeers will play fr 3 years more...easily n by that time...the young indian pacers in sreesanth n sharma would hv come of age to be a force anywhere in the world...3 years before zaheer khan was also not what he is today...

Anyways the bubble of teh English will burst in July next year..when India tours there..last time we defeated the Brits 1-0..this time 3-1.

Posted by thianavi on (December 29, 2010, 18:38 GMT)

So much talk for a #4 ranked team? Haha!

Sure you guys won the ashes...and for the record, I was rooting for England winning it too...But cmon, the way you are re-writing history, forgive me for thinking that this is the 1930's and the Sun is yet to set on the British Empire! Get some perspective, man.

Posted by atul292 on (December 29, 2010, 18:11 GMT)

I am amazed ...not after seeing the results Australia have got but before that, Why was Shaun Marsh not picked in the first place..and not even after the injury to Katich..its just mind boggling

nothing against that kid Hughes..but Marsh is a class player who should have been in the team WITH Katich as opener.

the other player i am shocked was ommitted is Cameron white..he's an incredible talent who has been shockingly relegated the LOI level only..hes far too good and should be in the test side immed

i am not aware of other Aussie talents..esp in bowling..and i think Smith was a wasted selection ...and the likes of Warner and D Hussey should have been considered and some stage

Posted by Point4 on (December 29, 2010, 17:39 GMT)

Andy ohh..Andy... your batting never got due recognition because you were part of a side which was almost always loosing..and your coaching skills too escape headlines because you head a side which ends up winning almost always...coaches like umpires are like geysers..people note them when they dont work properly.....Andy has transformed a side which had its captain resigning because of feud with the coach,coach being sacked due to....(not documented reasons),players distrusting each other etc etc to a top class side......cheers !!!!!Andy keep going..lage raho....this from India

Posted by sriram.petit on (December 29, 2010, 17:35 GMT)

I have a doubt Andrew Miller ?? Weren't Mcgrath and Warne part of the Mumbai Test which Australia lost in 2006 when Ponting was the captain !!

Posted by karthikr315 on (December 29, 2010, 16:22 GMT)

England's aim of becoming No1 is partly justified given the fact that India's fab four will run out of steam soon (retirements starting end of calendar year 2011). Also we do not see at this point in time any suitable replacements for the so called fab four (still struggling to find a replacement for Ganguly who retired 2 seasons ago). India heading OZ way, 2012 will tell. All Indian youngsters lack technique bcas they are interested only in 20-20. The only tough team they will have to face will be SA and looking at their team the makeup of which is not expected to change given the fact that Smith, Amla, AB will be there for another 6 years atleast. Kallis too expected to last another 3 years. Also SA bowling looks good on paper although England have an edge in that area as they have bench strength there. The next 5 years will be interesting. We will see SA as No1, followed by England, then its a toss up between a weak OZ, weak India, home tigers SL to make up the top 5.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 16:14 GMT)

England is "same old England" which defeated "new Aussies". The is the poorest Aussie bowling attack in last decade. No wonder why England could go on to make five hundred runs. Cook is the only one who batted consistently for England averaging above hundred. KP's double ton won them one test. England is in no shape for No. One rank right now. There are no real match winners (bowlers in particular) in the English team. Same old england.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 15:51 GMT)

ENG can be a top team, but not no. 1, They probbebly will get in2 semis of 2011WC , but not beyond that.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 29, 2010, 15:38 GMT)

@Anand Vasantharajan,

"But it is really premature for England to think about No 1 Test Rank and they have a long way to go"

That is rubbish. It is premature only if someone claims that England are currently #1. It is not premature to think about achieving the #1 ranking. And, to claim that SL has one of the best test teams at the moment shows that you know zilch about cricket. India has a great, albeit aging, batting line-up and one good bowler. South Africa possess a good batting line-up and the best fast bowler in the world. England are getting better too. It is true that England have a long way to go to become #1. Unless England beat both India and South Africa, they cannot claim to be the best. But, if they do that, they become strong contenders for the top spot.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 15:15 GMT)

i want australia to win the sydney test so it will be his 100th test victory and he deserves it (i dont see he will play again in tests)

Posted by atanukashyap on (December 29, 2010, 14:57 GMT)

England were determined to win the ashes right from the beginning which are evident from : the intelligent schedule being arranged involving 3 warm up games, inclusion of reserve seamers which proved handy when broad got injured and finn became out of touch and their faith in cook who became their trumpcard. Kudos to ice cool captain strauss who proved as england's best captain in modern day cricket. Their victory is a lesson especially for the BCCI to organize important series to win matches and not lure for money. If BCCI had acted the way the english cricket board did, then indian tean would never have struggled in South Africa. !!!!

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 14:36 GMT)

Before we crown England as the undisputed winners remember there are teams like India and South Africa which are still ahead and are not going too roll over easy.

MS Dhoni is one if the wisest men to have ever have captained an INdian team and they just rebounded back defeating Africa...so let the hosannas wait for awhile

Posted by soulstation on (December 29, 2010, 14:08 GMT)

Hearty congratulation to the English. This is the perfect example of how science can work for cricket. The entire England team is not a gifted cricketing side, like the Tendulkars, but through brilliant coaching, solid practice have come to be where they are. Looking back at strauss 4 years back, dropped from the England team, to Cooks inconsistency to Anderson brilliance without much in the wickets column. The only person it would be negatively affecting is Pieterson as he is all a natural, but he will come around as we saw in his 224. Andy flower can take as much credit from victory as anyone else. Working a perfect science, practice what you have to do and do it as well as you can. England can certainly go to the sub continent more confident then whenever now. Perfect example, clarke like width, look at all his dismissals, dont think he unleashed one of those bullet cut shots in 4 matches. feilding brilliant. I reckon as once the aussies were, pick any 11 form the country.. WINNERS.

Posted by uknsaunders on (December 29, 2010, 14:02 GMT)

Regarding 2005, England didnt kickon because:

Tresco,vaughan, giles,flintoff retired within the space of 4 years and spent most of those 4 years injured.

Jones has never been fit enough to play again. 5 key players lost and the aussies complain about warne and mcgrath...

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 14:02 GMT)

When I see people talking about big guns retiring at the same time i.e Glen McGrath, Shane Warne, Haydens, Langer, Gilchrist.... how come nobody mentions about Brett Lee. I think Brett should have never have retired and Australia should even now consider to bring him back. Not only he was a high class bowler but was a very handy batsman and extremely good fielder. He so deserve to come back to the team.

Posted by RameshSubramaniam on (December 29, 2010, 13:58 GMT)

True test awaiting for England in summer of 2011. "India in England". It will be the last time India touring England with Fab Four. Who ever comes in top will take the pole position in test cricket.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 13:43 GMT)

We should keep in mind that this is the weakest Australian bowling attack in a last decade, They still have world class batsman in form of Pointing, Clarke and Hussey, their main concern is their bowling, you cannot win the test unless your bowling unit is capable of taking 20 wickets. Australian selectors should groom the players to find the successor of megrath and Warne. Bollinger has shown some potential, he should play regualrly. You cannot judge a bowler on one test match

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 13:19 GMT)

Good stat by Akshay....Yes, it will be England's 100th win over Aussies..I am hoping that they do it in Sydney......Great win by England...But still a loooooooong way to consider themselves as Number 1 in test...India is currently the best in test cricket as they have proved it once again by beating South Africa in their own backyard...Well Done Team India...Continue your good work.....

Posted by Anneeq on (December 29, 2010, 13:14 GMT)

Id be so worried if i was an Aussie, just where can the selectors turn? Fair enough the likes of North, Ponting, Clarke, Johnson etc were in horrible form but is there anybody who can replace them? People may say 'get rid of Ponting' but who will replace him? Again well done England, people have actually overhyped this Aussie team, the writing was well and truly on the wall even during the Pk series down under. Pk were were more aweful than Australia were good. The same problems were there, Ponting was misfiring, Johnson was pretty poor, Michael Clarke wasnt particularly brilliant, Watson still could convert his starts to big hundreds. This test particularly was fantastic for england cos they lost badly in Perth. Im not overawed by the English performance, i expected this. England like Pk i believe are a much better side than Australia in every department the difference was, Pk were corrupt and mentally fragile. England were mentally superior and clinical.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 12:19 GMT)

If England win the fifth Test of the ongoing series, I believe it will be their 100th victory over their traditional arch-rivals. Now that would be a moment Andrew Strauss would really cherish!

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 12:14 GMT)

Hats of to England. And for those yearn for Aussies victory, situation is very gloomy. Past record says Sydney wicket helps Swing bowlers earlier (Only Anderson truly falls in that category).has comaperatively lower bounce (not suitable for Siddle, while their most threatening bowler Harris is out of equation due to injury), Ball starts turning after a day or two and last couple of days are like X-mas days for spinners(Unfortunatley Aussies only have a blonde toy in the name of spinner, while England has best spinner of test cricket of recent times) Aussies have an attack with hurt confident, while Englands second string quickies like bresnan are creating havoc.Sorry Ricky, you have no chance with those weak reflexes, which are only EFFECTIVELY used against a very decent judgment of best umpire of the world.

Posted by VIPGoyal on (December 29, 2010, 12:08 GMT)

They outplayed Aussies...Dropping Finn was the excellent decision. He was the only weak point in last game otherwise England would have won that one also.

Posted by chiggers on (December 29, 2010, 12:00 GMT)

If England avoid defeat in the last test then Australia drop to 5th in the ICC rankings. If England win, and India beat SA in the deciding test of their series, then England actually go above SA and into 2nd place. So there's plenty of motivation for England irrespective of the fact that the destiny of the Ashes has already been decided. To leave Australia with the urn still rightfully theirs, and a possible three places above the Aussies in the rankings, would tell the true tale of this tour

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 11:47 GMT)

Well Done England!!! Both Strauss and Andy FLower needs to be credited for this victory. Cheers!!! But it is really premature for England to think about No 1 Test Rank and they have a long way to go.As of now, India and South Africa (and also Sri Lanka) are the best Test teams and England needs to play against them at home. The Indian Line-up (Sehwag, Gambhir, Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Harbhajan, Zaheer), South African Line-up (Smith, amla, Kallis, Steyn, Morkel) had more firepower than English lineup.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 11:45 GMT)

England simply cannot allow themselves to take their eyes off the ball; and with the whole 2005 hangover still fresh in their mind...I'm sure Strauss will be cracking the whip once again. If the climb to #1 is like climbing Everest, then England is only halfway up the mountain.

1. Win a series in India, and; 2. Win a series in Sri Lanka, and; 3. Win a series in South Africa, and; 4. Maintain their grasp on the Ashes for the foreseeable future (~10 years); 5. Win the World Cup.

Those are the tasks remaining before the summit beckons. The skeleton of a great team is there; it's now all about putting the flesh and blood to it.

Posted by voma on (December 29, 2010, 11:41 GMT)

Well England have won 2 test matches by an innings , and the test that we drew . We batted for 3 days , England have taken 67 wickets compared to Australias 46 . But according to some people the sides are evenly matched ! . Aussie fans simply cannot accept they are being hammered into submission , this is the worst Auatralian team for 30 years ! .

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 11:17 GMT)

Great win for England - even if this series ends in a draw, England have outplayed Australian team. Good to know that all eggs are not in one basket - other countries like England, South Africa and India are being the greats.

Posted by CaptainPedant on (December 29, 2010, 11:11 GMT)

"Every other campaigner of the 20th and 21st centuries"... you were maybe forgetting Percy Chapman's side on the 1928-29 tour? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_cricket_team_in_Australia_in_1928%E2%80%9329

Posted by Vindaliew on (December 29, 2010, 11:03 GMT)

The headline says "win in Australia" - but the series is still 2-1 with 1 to play. England have retained the Ashes through not being able to lose, but they still haven't won the series. Or does retaining the Ashes with a drawn series count as "winning in Australia"? Does anyone know the margins of the first four wins? Thanks!

Posted by Cricket.Nellore on (December 29, 2010, 10:27 GMT)

Great work done by Strauss 11. It looks to be England is on top among all teams and will also be a favourites along with India for world cup. ----------By the way, Australia will stil look to complete Ashes with 5-0 ? --------

Posted by   on (December 29, 2010, 10:27 GMT)

I'll believe that the 'new' England are as ruthless as the hype suggests if they drop Collingwood for Sydney. They were halfway there with the 'resting' of Finn: what an inspired decision that turned out to be! The Australian selectors could learn a thing or two...

Posted by Pacelover on (December 29, 2010, 10:19 GMT)

I dont wish to get carried away but the number one ranking really is possible for England. I cannot see the likes of Sri Lanka and India getting a result in England, and for series In those Countries I feel that the way the English controlled the reversing ball in Melbourne and our best Reverse swinger Shazhad an option (not to mention the best spinner we have had in my lifetime) we could get series draws or even victories there. All that may let England down is the batsmen on faster wickets.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (December 29, 2010, 10:16 GMT)

Andrew, it would be more telling to note that without Warne and McGrath, Ponting has only won 21 out of 42 Tests. We talk about him as the most successful captain ever... but those figures show the truth. He has an ordinary record with a team that includes genuine match winners in himself, Clarke, Hussey, Johnson. His record post-Warne/McGrath could and should be better. Although.. the selectors have let him down too often (The Oval 2009 and MCG 2010 spring to mind). Regards England, their preparation has been very impressive. It's like they've introduced a whole new professionalism that i expect other teams will copy. Test cricket will be taken to a new level.

Posted by anver777 on (December 29, 2010, 10:08 GMT)

A huge achievement for a simple & modest character like Strauss !!!!!!! Cheers!!!!

Posted by Marcio on (December 29, 2010, 9:52 GMT)

England draws a test series in Australia: = England are Masters of the Universe. Australia draws a test series in Australia = Australia "retain a modicum of pride." If England beat Australia in Sydney then they can say they are significantly better. Unfortunately for them, it's not going to happen. You can't whip your opponents in two games and get whipped by them in the other two and only choose to acknowledge the ones where you were doing the whipping, not being whipped. Oh, I forgot, the 5th test hasn't happened yet. Seems I'm not the only one celebrating prematurely.

Posted by Hooves on (December 29, 2010, 9:36 GMT)

I think the over indulgence after 2005 home series was required. Required by the nation too, it had been nearly 20 years of Ashes absentia and the sheer thrill of the whole event was quite a festival feeling. The fact that the nation, or City of London at least, turned out on the streets to appreciate the team stands as testament that everyone felt the same. It was a great occasion but a one off. I do wonder what the Aussies felt about the whole thing though. That evryone reacts like that just becayse they were beaten must have made them feel quite good too.

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Andrew MillerClose
Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
Tour Results
Australia v England at Perth - Feb 6, 2011
Australia won by 57 runs
Australia v England at Sydney - Feb 2, 2011
Australia won by 2 wickets (with 4 balls remaining)
Australia v England at Brisbane - Jan 30, 2011
Australia won by 51 runs
Australia v England at Adelaide - Jan 26, 2011
England won by 21 runs
Australia v England at Sydney - Jan 23, 2011
Australia won by 4 wickets (with 24 balls remaining)
More results »
Ashes Videos
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Tremlett not blaming fatigue
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Andrew Strauss: 'Fatigue no excuse'

Andrew Strauss: 'Fatigue no excuse'
(00:39) | Jan 23, 2011
Ashes post mortem

Ashes post mortem
(04:13) | Jan 18, 2011
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