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Australia sweep Ashes series 5-0

Oz's most crushing Ashes series victory gives McGrath, Warne a perfect farewell.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2007 20:28 IST

Australia completed the most crushing Ashes series victory in 86 years on Friday, sending bowling greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath into Test retirement with a 5-0 sweep of England.

Opening batsman Justin Langer (20), the third veteran retiring after the match, combined with Matthew Hayden to pick off the 46 runs needed as Australia won the fifth Test by 10 wickets after England was skittled for 147 in its second innings.

Hayden (23) hit a six off Sajid Mahmood to make the scores level, then took a single from the next ball for the winner.

The Australians have now won 16 and drawn one of their 17 Test matches since the shock Ashes series loss in England in 2005, including the last 12 in succession.

Ricky Ponting, widely criticised after being the first Australian captain in 16 years to lose the Ashes when his squad went down 2-1 in England 16 months ago, guided the hosts to a clinical and ruthless series triumph this time.

Warwick Armstrong's side of 1920-21 is the only other team to sweep a five-match Ashes series.

Ponting was voted player of the series after scoring 576 runs at an average of 82, including two important hundreds.

"It's a great thrill for me," said Ponting, adding that he'd felt confident after the first hour of the first Test in Brisbane on November 23 that Australia would reclaim the Ashes.

"It's not so much the result as the occasion with the guys finishing. I shed a bit of the tear out on the ground," he said. "The last six or seven weeks have been the best of my cricketing life."

Ponting said the whole group could now celebrate.

"We haven't made a big deal about the 5-nil result. Even after the game there wasn't much talk of it," he said. But it's "80-something years since it's happened in Australia, so we should savour it."

England captain Andrew Flintoff said Australia had dominated right from the first Test.

"Australia hit us hard in the first game. In patches we've competed with them and played some good cricket but every time we've tried to put our foot in the door it's been closed in front of us," he said.

Australia has "raised the bar in this series - they've been awesome all-round," he added. "They've made it really tough for us. We gave it everything we had but we've been beaten by a better team."

England resumed on the fourth morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground at 114 for five and lost its last five wickets for 33 runs in just over an hour.

Kevin Pietersen, the last of the recognised batsman, sparked the last batting capitulation when he edged McGrath to Adam Gilchrist on the third ball of the morning and was out for 29.

The English did not score a run for 25 balls before a frustrated Chris Read blocked McGrath and took off for a single, only for Andrew Symonds to throw down middle stump at the striker's end from extra cover and run out Monty Panesar for 0.

Read (4) went out in the next over, angling a low catch off Brett Lee to Ponting at second slip to make the total 122 for eight, and Sajid Mahmood (4) was comprehensively bowled by McGrath in the next over with a ball that jagged back off the seam.

Warne and McGrath, ranked No 1 and No 3 on the list of all-time wicket-takers in Test cricket, bowled in tandem at the last English pair.

McGrath took the last wicket - No 11 James Anderson (5) scooping a catch to Mike Hussey at mid-on - to return 3-38.

Warne will finish his career with a world record 708 Test wickets. McGrath had 563 test wickets and is the leading Test paceman of all time.

The 37-year-old legspinner then dismissed England captain Andrew Flintoff (7) 10 balls before stumps after Lee and Stuart Clark picked off batsmen Nos 1-4, leaving Pietersen to bat with the tailenders and with no chance of salvaging the Test.

To finish such a high - yes the score was fantastic to win 5-nil, but what is more important is to leave the game in such good shape and with Australia playing such good cricket.

Warne said it had been a privilege to play with the current Australian team.

"I think we've actually played some of the best cricket I've ever been involved in - 16 international seasons - I don't think I've been involved in a cricket side that's played relentless and tough cricket like we've played this summer," he said.

"It's been fantastic to play with this team and I'm sure everyone has been entertained by the way we've played.