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

England dominant in every aspect

Though England lost in Perth, their overall numbers for the series are significantly better than those of the Australians

Madhusudhan Ramakrishan and S Rajesh

December 29, 2010

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Alastair Cook's prolific Ashes series continued as he passed fifty for the third successive time, Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day, December 4, 2010
Alastair Cook: one of the two England batsmen to average more than 100 in the series so far © Getty Images

In their last 25 Tests in Australia before this series, England had won three and lost 18, which puts into perspective just how monumental this success is. The last time England won consecutive Ashes series was in the mid-1980s, when they won at home in 1985 and then repeated the success in Australia in 1986-87. Given England's form this series, they look good to achieve that in Sydney.

Australia, on the other hand, have sunk to new depths: this is the first time they've have lost two Tests in a home series by an innings. The previous occasion when they lost more than one Test by an innings was in England in 1985-86, when they lost at Edgbaston and The Oval. The innings-and-157-run defeat was their eighth-worst defeat in Tests, of which six have come against England. Of those eight defeats, only three have happened since 1980. It is also the second-biggest margin of defeat for Australia at the MCG - after the innings-and-225-run loss to England in 1912 - and their worst Ashes loss since Manchester in 1956, when Jim Laker took 19 for 90 and England won by an innings and 170 runs. Australia's fall from their high perch can be gleaned from the fact that they've lost by an innings three times since the beginning of 2009; between 1992-93 and 2008 it happened only twice.

Australia fought back well in Perth, but over the course of the series, they've been completely outplayed. In the four Tests so far, Australia's batting average is 28.40, and they've scored three centuries and 14 fifties. The last occasion that Australia averaged less than 30 in a home series of three or more matches was in 1996-97 against West Indies, when they won 3-2.

England, on the other hand, have averaged 45.47, with six centuries and ten fifties. It's only the third occasion that a visiting team has averaged over 45 in a series (minimum three matches) in Australia. The inability of the Australians to convert fifties into hundreds has been one of their major problems, and proof that England's bowlers haven't allowed the batsmen to feel settled even when they've got off to starts.

Three of Australia's batsmen - Michael Hussey, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin - average more than 50, but the drop in performance thereafter is drastic: the next best is Simon Katich (24.25), while Steven Smith and Michael Clarke average barely more than 20. The most disappointing, obviously, has been their captain: Ricky Ponting averages 16.14 in his eight innings so far. In series of at least two Tests, only twice has he averaged lesser than this - in the 2000-01 series in India he averaged 3.40 in five innings, while in the Ashes series in 1998-99, he averaged 11.75 in three Tests.

For England, on the other hand, two batsmen - Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott - have averaged more than 100, two more - Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell - have averaged more than 50, while Andrew Strauss has a series average of 41.16. The only worry has been Paul Collingwood, who has scored 70 runs in five innings.

The partnership stats tell a similar story - eight century stands for England, and only four for Australia. The average partnership for each of the top three wickets for Australia is less than 35; for England they're all greater than 70.

Average partnership for each wicket
Wicket Eng - ave 100/ 50 stands Aus - ave 100/ 50 stands
First 75.16 2/ 1 33.50 0/ 3
Second 114.40 2/ 0 31.42 1/ 0
Third 72.20 1/ 2 12.28 0/ 0
Fourth 33.20 1/ 0 54.57 2/ 1
Fifth 39.40 1/ 1 33.14 0/ 2
Sixth 71.25 1/ 1 72.14 1/ 2
Seventh 14.75 0/ 0 11.28 0/ 1

The bowling load has been similarly shared for England, with all their fast bowlers averaging less than 35, with Chris Tremlett's 13 wickets costing him 19 each, and James Anderson's 17 coming at 29.29 apiece. For Australia, only Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle have come to the party. Ben Hilfenhaus has been the biggest disappointment - his four wickets have cost 73.50 each, and have come at a gap of nearly 30 overs.

S Rajesh is stats editor, and Madhusudhan is stats assistant at Cricinfo.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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