England 391 for 9 dec (Root 130, Bairstow 74, Starc 6-111) beat Australia 60 (Broad 8-15) and 253 (Warner 64, Rogers 52, Voges 51*, Stokes 6-36) by an innings and 78 runs
England regained the Ashes 10.2 overs into the third day at Trent Bridge as they completed a thumping win by an innings and 78 runs in the fourth Investec Test. It was 599 days since England fell apart in an Ashes whitewash in Australia. The rebuilding has been painful, but Alastair Cook's young England team has beaten an experienced Australian side that will now be dismantled.
The last act was down to Mark Wood - Australia's last man Nathan Lyon considering a leave and instead dragging the ball back into middle and leg stump. But with Australia seven down at start of play the smiles had crept onto England's faces from the moment they took the field and, on the players' balcony, Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace did a passable impression of the Jollity Brothers.
Ashes cricket can turn its combatants into heroes, and often it can destroy them too. Up on the Australian balcony, Michael Clarke, a captain who had failed again to win the Ashes in England, mournfully watched the final stages from the Australian balcony as Cricket Australia confirmed that he will retire at the end of the series.
"Time has caught up with me," said Clarke. "As a player you build yourself up for big tournaments - the World Cups and the Ashes. It's not easy but it's the right time to go." Everybody loves winning - and winners - but there is something especially noble about a great player recognising the time to go, and departing with grace and good spirit. The applause he received - in England too - was heartwarming.
Cook, a younger man, and stubborn with it, had survived his own tough times to live a happier chapter, becoming the third England captain to win the Ashes twice on home soil. "I couldn't be happier," he said. "After what we've been through in the last 18 months to play like we have in three out of four Tests against a very good Australia side - we haven't lost many days of cricket - is just incredible. I'm just so proud of this young team and the way they've taken their opportunity."
Two captains briefly in tears at the prize giving ceremony told of what the Ashes means.
England have now won four home Ashes series in a row, a sequence not matched since the 19C. Now 3-1 up in the series, they go to the Kia Oval with the pressure off, but a smarting Australia side will remain desperate to summon a response to give Clarke a rousing send-off. In the Ashes, there is no such thing as a meaningless Test.
And, in south London they may experience a surface a good way removed from the traditional England surfaces that have given them so much grief in Cardiff, Edgbaston and Nottingham in turn.
Ben Stokes has been England's talisman when it mattered. Swinging the ball lavishly, he took another wicket to finish with his best Test figures of 6 for 36. With James Anderson, one of the greatest proponents of swing bowling in history, looking on from the dressing room, Stokes made light of his absence in a manner that Anderson could admire.
It might have been an old ball, 63 overs into its lifespan at start of play, but it had swung prodigiously for Stokes late on the second day and when he returned to the fray after what was no doubt a night of anticipation it proved to be as obliging as ever. At 241 for 7, still 90 behind, Australia faced up to an impossible task.
Stokes has feasted on Australia's left handers. He had bagged four the previous day, three with outswingers delivered from around the wicket and, with the last ball of his second over, he added Mitchell Starc to the list. It was a virtual replica of those dismissals, an outswinger catching the edge on its way to Ian Bell at second slip, but this time he had gripped the ball cross-seam in an attempt at variety and found it booming away to the slips all the same.
Stokes is not particularly renowned as a swing bowler at international level, but in Durham they will tell you a different story. England's most northerly county outpost encourages swing bowling and, on his day, Stokes swings it more than anybody.
Some of his finest Test displays have been against Australia, his competitive instincts sharpened by the bristling nature of the contest. Red headed, raw boned and busily tattooed on muscular biceps, he has been in his element.
A yorker from Wood soon did for Josh Hazlewood, leaving Australia's last pair at the crease. Adam Voges, on a ground he knows well from county stints at Nottinghamshire, negotiated his way to a three-hour half-century, an effort which received warm appreciation.
England did not turn to Stuart Broad, whose 8 for 15 had as good as settled the Test on the first morning. "Cookie will tell you that on the first morning I wanted to bat," he said. He would have been glad of the rest. It remains to be seen whether he rests out The Oval. Anderson is definitely expected to sit it out.
But that will become apparent in the days to come. For England, the first task was a celebration with the destination of the urn settled in a series that has been brisk, entertaining for all the one-sided nature of the matches, and at times nigh on incomprehensible.