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They waited 24 years, then they hit real hard

cricket Updated: Jan 08, 2011 01:19 IST

AP
Highlight Story

England clinched its first test series victory in Australia in 24 years by wrapping up the fifth and final match by an innings and 83 runs today to take the Ashes series 3-1.

The Sydney Cricket Ground triumph gave England an unprecedented third victory by an innings in a single series against Australia, which has been condemned in the domestic media as the country's worst ever test team.

It was also the first time since 1978-79 that England had won back-to-back test matches in Australia and the first time since 1987 that the English have won a test series Down Under.

England captain Andrew Strauss praised his squad, which humiliated an Australian lineup which only four years ago swept the Ashes 5-0 at home.

"We came over here desperately wanting to win the series.

In Melbourne we retained the Ashes, but in Sydney we really wanted to finish with a bang," Strauss said. "We're delighted with what we've done. We're certainly going to enjoy this evening."

It was just a matter of time Friday for the series to be wrapped up on the last day, with England only requiring three wickets and Australia having no chance of leveling it.

Steve Smith (54 not out) and Peter Siddle (43) prolonged Australia's resistance for an hour around a couple of suspensions for rain, but Graeme Swann broke the 86-run, eighth-wicket stand when he had Siddle caught on the boundary by Jimmy Anderson.

Anderson (3-61) then had Ben Hilfenhaus (7) caught behind to collect his third wicket for the innings. Chris Tremlett (3-79) picked off No. 11 Michael Beer (2), just as the trumpet player for the Barmy Army started "The Last Post" for the Australian team, to finish it off before lunch.

In one of the few highlights for Australia, young all-rounder Smith raised his second test half century with a stylish late cut to the boundary off Anderson.

Critics have called for a complete overhaul of Australian cricket, starting with the administration and the national team.

"Pretty disappointing and a hard pill to swallow," said Mike Hussey, Australia's leading batsman in the series. "But you've got to give credit to England. They deserved the 3-1 scoreline."

The English batsmen and bowling unit dominated at the SCG as they had done in the series. Only two Australian batsmen scored centuries in the series, while three English batsmen produced hundreds in this match, in England's highest ever total in Australia of 644.

Alastair Cook became the most prolific English run scorer in an Ashes series in eight decades with his 189 in England's innings giving him 766 for the series - only Wally Hammond's 905 in 1928-29 has been better for England. Cook was voted player of the series.

"To win man of the match in the final game of the Ashes is a dream come true," Cook said. "Our bowlers have been fantastic throughout the whole series. They've put some pressure on the Australians the whole series, made our jobs a lot easier.

It was a major setback for Michael Clarke, who was playing his first test as Australia captain after Ricky Ponting was ruled out with a broken finger. He immediately retired from Twenty20 cricket to concentrate on his batting.