Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 5th day December 17, 2013

Cheery Aussies cherish victory

With the Australian XI filled with players scarred by Ashes defeat and some grateful to be playing international cricket, this victory was a momentous moment they thoroughly enjoyed

"Don't piss on the pitch!" someone shouted as the Australians meandered out on to the WACA just before 6pm on Tuesday evening. It sounded like Darren Lehmann, but could have been anyone in the group. Most likely it was someone who was there for the pain of the defeat in England this year, which ended with England celebrating at The Oval in, shall we say, a relaxed style that made the papers.

But so well-behaved was the squad that after the team song was sung and the hugs were hugged, the players filed off quietly, making sure to take their beer bottles with them. Ryan Harris was picking them up from all around the pitch with such diligence that it was like he wanted to cash them for the 10-cent refunds. Well, he is from South Australia originally. But it was just another case of the Australians remembering the little things, the so-called one-percenters.

Nathan Lyon is good at the one-percenters. In England he wore the pink jacket awarded to the best team man and he was the player nominated by Michael Hussey to take over as song master, to stand in the middle of the huddle and lead the squad in Under the Southern Cross I Stand after victories. It was belted out with special gusto on the WACA pitch this time.

Earlier in the day, as Australia stood one wicket from victory, you couldn't wipe the smile off Lyon's face as he walked back to the deep square leg fence. Last time England visited these shores, he was an Adelaide Oval groundsman. Now, he's an Ashes-winning spinner and custodian of the team song. He was one of several players who tried to whip up some cheering from the crowd as the victory drew closer, signalling the fans to clap and shout and get behind them.

Brad Haddin was doing it too. So was Steven Smith. Both have painful past Ashes memories, now eradicated. You'd have been given long odds on either Smith or Haddin being part of this Ashes squad a year ago. Smith had missed his chances, and was well down in the queue, Haddin had been overlooked for the younger Matthew Wade. Quirks of fate gave them both a chance on the tour of India, Smith through the "homework" suspensions, and Haddin through an injury to Wade.

Both have played crucial roles in this success. Haddin has saved Australia from tricky situations in all three first innings and kept brilliantly. His low take to get rid of Ben Stokes as England's chase gained momentum in Perth was pivotal, and it was far from his only outstanding moment behind the stumps.

Smith's hundred in the first innings at the WACA ensured this victory was possible. In many ways, Smith and Haddin personify the way this outfit has been thrown together through circumstance. That other plans - including having Hussey and Ricky Ponting still playing at this point - failed was the only reason either was here.

The same can be said of George Bailey, who took the match-winning catch at short leg, and threw his helmet away as the team flocked towards him. Australia's newest Test player, Bailey, has three wins from three Tests, and is an Ashes victor as well as the world-record holder for most runs in a Test over - alongside Brian Lara. Had the team's plans worked in England, Bailey wouldn't have been here.

Chris Rogers was also fortunate, picked for the England tour because he added much-needed experience to the batting order. Had Ponting and Hussey remained, Rogers wouldn't have been required. He nearly lost his Victoria contract last year, and was writing about the techniques of state batsmen, some of whom have become Test team-mates. He too is now every bit a part of this side.

The sight of the 36-year-old Rogers sprinting and hurling himself to his right to pluck a catch out of the air at mid-off was one of the enduring images of the final day in Perth. It was a super take, and put Australia within one wicket of victory. After Lyon led the team song and the players began to file off the WACA, they all called for "Bucky" to re-enact his athletic catch. He duly did, and was sprayed with booze afterwards.

Mitchell Johnson was the bowler who sealed victory, and Johnson is yet another who has fallen into place in this side through circumstance - in his case, through injuries to James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc. Prior to the series, Michael Clarke said Johnson was bowling so well he could be Player of the Series, but presumably only the Johnson family really believed it. And yet here he was, four wickets in the fourth innings at the WACA, 23 for the series so far, the leader of the attack.

Johnson was on the verge of tears after taking the final wicket, as he shook the hands of the batsmen and umpires. His past humiliations in previous Ashes series are now a distant memory. Harris, too, almost cried when he spoke to Mark Taylor on Channel Nine in the moments after the win. At 34 and with a body racked with aches and pains, Harris knew this was his last chance for Ashes success.

Now Harris, Johnson, Lyon, Haddin, Bailey, Rogers, Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson and Peter Siddle are Ashes winners. So is their coach, Lehmann. After the win, he told of how from day to day he asks a different player or member of the support staff to come up with a joke, to be told before the team takes the field. It relaxes them, ensures the sense of fun remains.

Even today, even with an Ashes victory on the line, that sense of enjoyment remained. The team physio Alex Kountouris was nominated and told what Lehmann declared the worst joke of his time with the squad. It didn't matter. Everyone was laughing later in the day.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    Well played Aussies over and over again - well done Micheal Clarke for an outstanding leadership and just go for a 5 nil white wash. You guys deserve it. You are a well balanced well disciplined side which will not piss in the turf.

  • Nathan on December 18, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    @ The gimp - well put!! It's like we now have an Australian cricket team again. It's been a while coming.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    Could it be that moment.....when a certain team was found "relieving" themselves on a cricket the turning point in the latest curve of this great / epic rivalry!....

  • Steve on December 18, 2013, 12:49 GMT

    I'm glad they took a leaf out of Borders book and picked a team around temperament rather than outright talent. Hughes, Kwahja, Wade and Co have huge amounts of talent but have lacked it in the heart department (so far in their careers) Rogers isn't pretty but has suffered being ignored for ten years and that has made him tough. Bailey bats better in a scrap, when the heat is off he isn't interested. Haddin has shown he could be picked as a bat and has thrived under real pressure and Rhino, Rhino had Pharlap's heart transplanted into his chest at birth. Siddle and Lyon are guys you could share a trench with. Yes, finally a team you could back even if they were losing!

  • Cam on December 18, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    I think we should rest all of the 11 and get the new guys in. We'd still win by a huge margin.

  • Muhammad on December 18, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    We are waiting for 5-0, 5-0, 3-0. Hard work, team unity, +ve thinking can get better results.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    Good job Ausssies.Mitch being trumpcard of Aussie punched England.whitewash may be possible.

  • Nathan on December 18, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    Apparently this is the sixth time in the last seven Ashes series down under that Aus has retained or won the Ashes before Christmas. Of course, this was the only series out of those that the Ashes were won, the other five times the Urn was merely retained, as Aus had defeated Eng in the previous series on foreign soil. A feat (winning/retaining on foreign soil) Eng has managed only once in over 25 years, which was then met by Eng and it's fans in 2011 with such arrogance and hubris that they truly seemed to believe that accomplishing this feat, a feat Aus teams did for fun in the 90s, made them the greatest sporting team ever in the history of this universe and any parallel universes as well. I hope facts such as this put into perspective for some English fans why their talk of 'regular service' is quite ridiculous when they use it to mean England winning, and highlights, even during their 'golden era', just far off they were from being anywhere near past Aus teams at their peak.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    I am not an aussie supporter, but i am happy to see the arrogant English team lose. After winning the ashes series in summer, they celebrated by urinating on the pitch.The same cricket pitch which should be treated with respect. The players who were involved in that incident were filled with arrogance and over confidence. But the game is a great leveller. These cricketers have been hammered by the aussies and its good to see that. A great cricketer is one who respects the game the pitch by his actions on field and off the field whether he wins or loses. The English hopefully have learnt their lessons and behave in a better way.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2013, 4:52 GMT

    An era of domination has begun !