Australia 284 (Smith 144, Broad 5-86) and 487 for 7 dec (Smith 142, Wade 110, Head 51) beat England 374 (Burns 133, Root 57, Stokes 50) and 146 (Lyon 6-49, Cummins 4-32) by 251 runs
They came with hope of batting out the final day and leaving Edgbaston intact, but England were blown away by Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins as Australia completed victory by a crushing 251 runs before tea. Lyon lived up the billing as the major fourth-innings threat with 6 for 49, his best figures against England, and finished with nine in the match.
It was Australia's first victory at the venue in any format since 2001 - which is also their last Test series win in England - and this is the first time they have led an away Ashes since 2005. The lead-up to the match was dominated by a multitude of selection debates, but it was two of the nailed-on names who did the wicket-taking work on the final day to ensure that Steven Smith's monumental performances will always be associated with victory rather than a stalemate. Given that Australia were 122 for 8 on the first day, it will go down as one of their finest victories even though England were a bowler down.
Cummins began Australia's march to victory on the final morning, by removing Rory Burns with a well-directed short ball, and finished with 4 for 32, in the process claiming his 100th Test wicket in his 21st match when he removed Jonny Bairstow. That was the second-fastest number of games for an Australian pace bowler, behind Charlie Turner's 17, a game quicker than Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Bill Johnston.
There was a milestone, too, for Lyon as he reached 350 Test wickets with the scalp of Ben Stokes as England's middle order was destroyed. There had been some hope when, despite the loss of Burns - splicing the ball to gully - in the third over the day, they reached 60 for 1 but Lyon was soon getting to work.
His first wicket of the day owed a lot to a horrendous shot from Jason Roy who charged down the pitch, was nowhere near the ball and still went through with a swipe to the leg side. The end result was not pretty. He is early in his Test career and has been picked because he is a dynamic player, but this was a bad misjudgement. Joe Denly started positively with a brace of sweeps off Lyon but everything was in the offspinner's favour and it wasn't long before a bat-pad chance looped to short leg.
Root twice used DRS to overturn poor lbw decisions by Joel Wilson - who had a torrid game - when he was given out to James Pattinson on 4 with the ball missing leg and again on 9 against Peter Siddle when there was an inside edge. The contest between Lyon and Root was absorbing while it lasted, the England captain eager to try and not let Lyon settle, but there was no need for an umpiring decision when he did fall, a thick inside edge being safely held by Cameron Bancroft.
Four down at lunch and England's only real hope was to have a wicketless middle session: six balls into the resumption and they lost their fifth. Cummins had troubled Jos Buttler before the break - reviewing a tight lbw that was umpire's call on height - and Buttler was 1 off 24 balls when he had his off stump trimmed. He played it as though the ball kept low, and perhaps it did a fraction, but he was also beaten by Cummins' challenging length.
On a surface that became slower as the match progressed, Cummins made exceptional use of the short ball throughout the day. Having earlier defeated Burns, he then angled one in at Bairstow's chest and he couldn't lower his hands in time. The ball ballooned to slip and Bairstow reviewed, intimating it had come off his arm, but it had just brushed the wristband of the glove as well. Credit to Wilson for the correct decision.
Next ball, Lyon got one to spin and bounce at Stokes to take the edge with Tim Paine completing another excellent catch up to the stumps. Chris Woakes played his shots as well as anyone on the day, but the end did not take long to come. In one of the more predictable dismissals Lyon snared Moeen Ali again, caught at second slip, for his fifth wicket then put himself on a hat-trick by removing Stuart Broad with another beautiful off-break. The distance by which Lyon out-bowled Moeen in this match was one of the deciding factors despite Smith's run-glut.
James Anderson, whose injury in the opening session created a hole England couldn't cover up, hobbled out and denied Lyon the hat-trick. It was Cummins who started the demolition and Cummins who ended it when another short ball was fended to slip by Woakes. Fittingly, too, the ball landed in the hands of Smith.
The Fortress had been well and truly breached.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo