England complete crushing Ashes victory
England 644 (Cook 189, Prior 118, Bell 115) beat Australia 280 (Johnson 53, Anderson 4-66) and 281 (Smith 54*, Anderson 3-61, Tremlett 3-79) by an innings and 83 runs
England ended 24 years of hurt in crushing style at the SCG as they secured an innings-and-83-run victory to take the Ashes series 3-1. The crowning moment came shortly before noon when Chris Tremlett found Michael Beer's inside edge to bowl him leg stump. It was the first time in their history that Australia have suffered three innings defeats in a series and left nobody in any doubt where the balance of power now lies.
The England players immediately embraced at the striker's end and savoured their moment in a tight team huddle. This has been a victory fashioned by exemplary planning and hard work where no stone has been left unturned. The defeat in Perth, by 267 runs, which levelled the series for Australia, only inspired the visitors to hit new heights and they proceeded to crush the hosts in Melbourne and Sydney.
England were frustrated for a while as showers scudded across the ground to cause a 45-minute suspension and then by an 86-run stand between Steve Smith and Peter Siddle. However, Graeme Swann broke through shortly before the new ball and a short time later Tremlett removed the last obstacle.
Smith and Siddle at least showed some fight as they came out and played their shots. Siddle's batting improvement since his return from injury is one of few bonuses to emerge from a terrible series for the hosts, and it highlights their problems that his run-scoring record is not far off that of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.
The England bowlers couldn't quite recapture the intensity of the fourth evening when they claimed the extra half hour to try and wrap up victory. Tremlett appeared a little down on pace after his roaring burst the previous day, but England knew all they had to do was remain patient and their moment would arrive.
Swann had bowled well in the innings without reward so when he had Siddle taken at deep midwicket it was deserved success for giving Andrew Strauss control at vital stages. That was Swann's final bowl, though, as the new ball was taken straight away and Anderson, who will head home for ten days' rest, found Ben Hilfenhaus' edge to give the impressive Matt Prior another catch.
By now the Barmy Army were in full voice. Smith had time to bash his way to a second Test fifty, but he knew the end was close as he swung from the hip. A single exposed Beer to three balls of Tremlett's over and he only needed one delivery. England will party the day and night away in Sydney, yet knowing the focus of Strauss and Andy Flower they will soon be back preparing for the next challenge. Next stop: the best team in the world.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo