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Australia completes 5-0 sweep

Rogers, Harris hog the limelight in 281-run win as England caves in without a fight in final Test

Australia completes 5-0 sweep - Cricket News
Australia completed the 5-0 whitewash with a 281-run win, thereby regaining the Ashes.
Australia finished off a 5-0 Ashes whitewash at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday (January 5), with a blazing bowling performance led by Ryan Harris to follow up a second consecutive Chris Rogers century. In partnership with George Bailey, Rogers carried Australia’s second innings most of the way to a 447-run lead, although some blasé slogging by the lower order brought a brisk end after Rogers was out for 119. That was nonetheless far more than enough to account for England, as the match careered to a close in under three days.

Just dwell on that a moment. England, having won the toss and sent Australia in, lost the match 53 minutes after tea on the third day. Its collapse to 166, giving Australia victory by 281 runs, made this the sixth time this series they have scored less than 180. Harris took his first five-wicket haul of this Ashes, while Mitchell Johnson was again prominent with 3 for 40 from one final display of furiously fast bowling.

Johnson took out both openers — Alastair Cook early once again to cement English pessimism, then returned for Michael Carberry after the beleaguered batsman’s brightest start this summer. He also accounted for Gary Ballance, the highly rated young debutant. That took his series tally to 37 wickets at 13.97 runs apiece.

It has been a bowling performance of almost mystical potency. Only 11 times in Test history has a bowler taken more in a series, and five of those involved six Tests. England has had no answer.

England started the morning without an answer for Rogers either, for the second time in as many Tests. Beginning on 73, with Bailey on 20, Rogers drove, cut, and whipped the ball with ease. A punch down the ground from Ben Stokes was the shot of the day, and even the rare introduction of Kevin Pietersen’s offspin couldn’t break Rogers’s concentration.

Bailey beavered away quietly in support, and the single that took Rogers to 99 also raised the hundred partnership in just 101 minutes. Pietersen tied Rogers down for a couple of balls with a close field, but as soon as he got a touch of width, Rogers was cutting between slip and backward point for four, and his second century in as many Tests.

Bailey struck the last of a few lovely driven boundaries before being caught on the hook for 46 off Stuart Broad, a decent innings but not enough to shoo the naysayers from his trail. That brought Brad Haddin to the crease. With his 9th run, Haddin broke Adam Gilchrist’s record for the most runs in a series scored by any batsman outside the top six. It is an obscure but extremely impressive statistic that only underlines his importance this series.

His 20th run took him past Gerry Alexander on the list for most runs in a series by a wicketkeeper, leaving only Budhi Kunderan, Andy Flower and Dennis Lindsay ahead of him, but having caused the England coach Flower enough torment this series, Haddin settled for fourth place on that list when he missed a Scott Borthwick full toss to be bowled for 28.

Johnson smashed one four before being bowled by Stokes, Rogers got a leading edge back to Borthwick for a caught and bowled, and Harris lumped a four and a six before holing out to give Borthwick his third. Even Boyd Rankin got the slightest consolation after a torrid debut Test, with Peter Siddle nicking behind for four. For once, England had gone through Australia’s tail quickly, the last five wickets falling for 37 runs. Nathan Lyon remained undismissed through the entire series, having batted six times for six not outs, and scored 60 runs in the process.

From there, it was simply a matter of whether England wanted to fight. As it turned out, it already had more than one eye on its tickets back home. Those who have to stay for the one-day series must sympathise with the first British citizens sentenced to seven years transportation in the late 1700s.

Again it was Cook falling early, Johnson coaxing him into another flat-footed edge behind from the last ball of the second over. Carberry and Ian Bell added 30, with both playing aggressive strokes from the off, none better than Bell’s uppercut six from Johnson. But he went once too often on 16, poking a cut shot straight to David Warner at backward point, before Pietersen’s inside edge from Harris floated just long enough off the pad to allow a simply stunning one-hander from Bailey leaping back from short leg.

Carberry continued in fluent and confident fashion, making you wonder where this batting had been as he drove repeatedly on the up through cover and mid-off. Johnson’s fastest deliveries left him unconcerned, and he reached tea on 43 with Ballance for company. But the slide has always been imminent for England this series, and two balls after the break, Carberry top-edged Johnson on the cut through to Haddin.

Ballance was gone three balls later, rapped on the pad in front of off by one that kept down and angled in from over the wicket, then Jonny Bairstow edged the fourth ball of Lyon’s following over to Bailey for a duck. The rout was completed from the sixth ball of the over, Borthwick edging to Clarke at slip. 11 balls, eight runs, four wickets, and England were 95 for 7.

Broad and Stokes clumped a few big hits to mollify the English crowd, including 20 runs in fours and sixes from one Lyon over, and 12 from another. But Stokes was gone for 32 pulling Harris onto his stumps, and Broad, after three more sixes, was bowled Harris for 42. Two balls later the end came, Clarke fittingly taking the catch as Rankin edged Harris to slip, with Australia victors by 281 runs, and in the series by five wins to nil.

It has been a stunning turnaround for the side that lost 4-0 in India and 3-0 in England during 2013. An unchanged XI across five Test wins would have been a possibility at the longest of odds in the middle of last November. Sterner tests await it away from home, but for now Australia is left to bask in the joy of a summer that has gone like the most pleasant of dreams. Their third Ashes whitewash has been secured, and the only headache remaining for Australia visible from the SCG press box is just how to clean up all the confetti from the hallowed ground.

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