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Tom Fordyce | 03:40 UK time, Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Melbourne, Victoria

Sydney? We'll cross that harbour bridge when we get to it.

At around 1153 on Wednesday morning, Matthew Prior dived to his left to take a low catch off the inside edge of Australia's last batsman Ben Hilfenhaus and trigger scenes of wild celebration at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

After 24 long years, after pummellings and whitewashes, hubris and humiliation, noses in dirt and tails between legs, England have retained the Ashes.

First, the bare details. They won this fourth Test by an innings and 157 runs, with five and a half sessions to spare, to take a 2-1 series lead with just the final Test to come.

Now for the full picture. And oh, what a picture it was.

In bright sunshine, under perfect blue skies, this was a sight for England supporters to savour and store for as long as they care about cricket.

The MCG is the spiritual home of Australian sport, a sacred oval of concrete and grass that has hosted Olympic Games, Grand Finals and Test match triumphs for decade after dominant decade.

On Wednesday it was transformed into a little slice of British paradise - the stands almost entirely occupied by an invading army of beaming, barmy fans, the air full of celebratory songs, the lucky thousands inside alternating between furiously waving flags of St George and pinching themselves pink with giddy disbelief.

The hard work had been done on the preceding three days. This was the wrap party, and everyone wanted to be on the dancefloor when the sprinklers started.

England captain Andrew Strauss is hailed by fans

Strauss's England were congratulated after a thumping win. Picture: Getty

An hour before the start there were queues at the ticket booths on the concourse outside. Half an hour in, Mitchell Johnson already back in the hutch, they were still handing over Aus $30 apiece and racing through the glass doors to the stands.

Billy Cooper led the choruses on his bugle - Blake's Jerusalem, Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody, the theme to Jim'll Fix It and that rather rude one about Johnson's bowling which is accompanied by hand gestures you wouldn't really want your mother to see.

The brief resistance of Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle was as likely to interrupt the festivities as the cloudless sky above was to start snowing.

So far have things gone England's way in this match that when Haddin launched Graeme Swann way over long on for a six deep into the happy hordes, a hungover member of the Barmy Army stuck up his arm up and caught it one-handed.

When the end came, the roar from the stands told you before umpire Tony Hill's raised finger. England's individual players disappeared into an amorphous huddle of jumping, whooping white.

All around, the chant echoed out: "They're coming home, they're coming home, they're coming, Ashes coming home..."

Before this series Australia had not lost by an innings on home soil for nearly 18 years. Now it has happened twice in a month. Records are tumbling every which way you look.

"England have been exceptional," says Michael Vaughan, skipper when England won back the Ashes for the first time in 16 years in 2005 and now an expert summariser for the BBC's Test Match Special.

"They just haven't allowed Australia to play. It's not rocket science to say that this Australian side aren't as good as they were, but England are a very good team.

"This is a miles bigger achievement than winning the Ashes at home in 2009, because beating Australia down here is so hard. Even against this Australian side.

"Had they got to 200 on that first day, the story might have been different. If Ricky Ponting had won the toss it might have been different. England have played really well and they deserve everything that comes their way.

"England have got really good players, some really solid characters. There is a great attitude in the camp; there isn't one person who needs managing in that team. They manage themselves.

"Ian Bell has matured, James Anderson has matured. And there's probably only Collingwood and Strauss who won't be here in four years time. The Aussies better get used to this, because it isn't going to get any better for them."

The last time England retained the Ashes in Australia, way back in 1986, they did so with another Middlesex skipper - Mike Gatting - at the helm, on this same ground and on almost exactly the same date. They also went on to lose the final Test in Sydney.

On that occasion the Ashes were already won. Here they are not. Once the sore heads clear after this win, will Strauss and his men reflect that the job is really only partially done?

"England are going to get a lot of praise over the next four or five days," says Vaughan.

"Can they produce their form in Sydney after getting that praise, when Australia are right in the dirt? That's the challenge for this team.

"In 1998 England came to Australia with a side that was pretty good. They won here in Melbourne and went to Sydney with a chance to square the series, and they should have won in Sydney. If England had drawn that series, against that Australian side, it would have been an incredible performance.

"You look at this series, and 2-2 would be a failure. England are a better unit. They now have to win in Sydney to leave a really sweet taste in the mouth.

"OK, our first objective was to retain the Ashes. But in terms of what this team is aiming to do - being the number one team in the world - I think they have to win the series over here.

"The gulf in class between the two teams is big that an England 3-1 victory would be about right. 2-2 would be a travesty. That is where we have to get better as an England team: winning after winning. We saw after Adelaide that we struggled, but after being beaten at the Waca we produced the win here.

"There's something special about Sydney. It's a wonderful atmosphere, and I just hope England can produce a win. It deserves that kind of end to a really good Ashes series. Go to Sydney, win, and then have a big party."

Two hours after the ground had finally emptied, with only a few groundsman and cleaners left in the place, a stocky figure in grass-stained whites could be seen walking across the outfield to the tired-looking pitch, pushing an out-fashioned pram as he chatted away.

It was England number three Jonathan Trott, showing his young baby the spot where Dad had hit his match-winning 168 not out. If for once he resisted the temptation to re-scratch his mark on the crease, he also fought the urge to steal a little hunk of turf for family posterity.

It must have been a close call. "This will live in my memory, and in the memories of all the players," his captain Andrew Strauss had said a little earlier. "What a great ground this is, and what an amazing place to come and retain the Ashes."

On only four occasions since the second world war had an England team left Australia in possession of the urn. A little more history has just been added to the cricketing chronicles.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    As my late dad would have said; "It's all been rather marvellous!"

  • Comment number 2.

    Very interesting article, and thank goodness you don't use any inanities such as 'dominated with bat and ball from the "get-go"' which I read somewhere else by someone called David Ornstein. The word is "start".

  • Comment number 3.

    "The Aussies better get used to this, because it isn't going to get any better for them."

    I disagree. It can ONLY get better from here...

    Congrats to England. By far and away the better team. Outplayed, outthought and outclassed Australia with ease. The next series in England will hopefully be much more competitive.

  • Comment number 4.

    2-2 would indeed be a travesty given the gulf in class between the two teams. I guess Australia will have to select a spinner for Sydney, but despite what Swann has said previously about not caring if he doesn't get many wickets this series i think he will want to go out with a bang, and Sydney spins. Australia can pick whoever they like for Sydney, i still belive Swann will spin us to victory.

    3-1 to England coming up in the new year.

  • Comment number 5.

    @#3 notachucker

    On the contrary, I don't think it will get better for the Aussies until the Ashes series comes back to Australia in 4 years time.

    The 2013 series in England could indeed be worse for Australia.......unless they can bring the Perth pitch on tour with them.

  • Comment number 6.

    Here's to sprinkling on the dancefloor...

  • Comment number 7.

    @ notachuker post 3

    "The next series in England will hopefully be much more competitive."

    I love it when people start resorting to phrases like things being 'competitive'. We had that trotted out for decades here by our losing payers. I remember an interview with Shane Warne about that term..and he really laughed..saying 'What does that mean? Competitive?'

    Spot on, it's a meaningless term. There's only winning and losing. Aussies had better start remembering that again..and not waffle on for years, like us losing pommies, about being competitive.

  • Comment number 8.

    Top notch stuff, we've retained the Ashes. Now let's go to Sydney and WIN the Ashes!

  • Comment number 9.

    I was there and it was as good as it sounds. England are basically on a different level to Australia and deserve their win. The only point to question is Paul collingwoods role going forward for which I actually agree with papa shango on, but that's about it as his credibility went out the window some time ago. I predict a 3-1 score although would secretly prefer a draw as I have money on 2-1!

  • Comment number 10.

    Congrats England!

    This was a smashing humiliation of the recently-mighty Aussies!

    Soon, the curtain will have been drawn on the career of one of the world's great batsmen, Ricky Ponting!

    Unfortunately, he will not be leaving in a blaze of glory. His epic failure with the bat, and spat with match officials, will be how most will remember his exit from the international arena.

    The challenge now for england s not to lose at Sydney! The Aussies will play for pride; and may the fans come out in force for the final contest.

  • Comment number 11.

    The most comprehensive of victories at the home of Australian cricket - it doesn't get any better than that. The tide has turned irrefutably and as Vaughan says, England could be set to dominate Ashes cricket for some time to come.

    All XIII players used in the series have contributed - Colly may not have got the runs but his brilliance in the field set the tone for others.

    Hopefully as Vaughan says, England will turn up on Sydney doubley determined to get the 3-1 result that their cricket in this series deserves.

    What happens to Australia and the make-up of their side in Sydney could be very interesting indeed.

    Day 4 at the MCG dissected: Ashes retained as England end 24 years of hurt http://bit.ly/ebqEcT

  • Comment number 12.

    Deserving Winners!!
    its easily the most disciplined English bowling lineup i the last 25 years (I am 25 yrs Old) ,ENGLAND has always had discipline in batting but their bowling was not consistent in maintaining the pressure on batsmen,this team had great control, not leaking runs and maintaining pressure on both ends.Swann should be thanked for keeping English fast bowlers fresh and not being over bowled.Ryan Harris is prime example of what happens if you don't rest your fast bowlers keep them on for long spells

    I expect English team to come to India sooner when we are still No.1 and have our batting lineup intact.This should be Englands next goal

    James Anderson is a machine! i would love if he plays for Chennai super kings in IPL4, where ever he plays will be big name at IPL4 auctions,

    Congrats To England And Keep The Sprinklers Going

  • Comment number 13.

    The next great test for England's team is in the summer against India. It's a pity we're not going to be facing South Africa until at least the end of 2012 now though, because both teams will have no doubt evolved by that time and England will be gearing up for another home Ashes series. Ideally I'd like to see the schedulers put us up against SA in winter 2012 or summer 2013 before the Ashes, it'll make for a really exciting year of cricket.

  • Comment number 14.

    Actually, it looks as though we're facing SA in Summer 2012, subject to Future Tours...and who does it look like we're facing before the next Ashes? New Zealand. Pity they couldn't give us a test nation that could give us a bit more of a game before next time round!

  • Comment number 15.

    pulled this off the board a couple of days ago
    179. At 9:24pm on 26 Dec 2010, Navel Gazer wrote:
    Nothing funnier than gloating Poms. Why oh wby cant you wait until the end of the series before opening your slack and slimy mouths.
    I have already predicted the score = 3-1 to Australia and I see no reason to change my mind about this.
    In all honesty there is only one side playing cricket in this match and that is Australia. we have had some setbacks and some very dodgy decisions in the series but talent will aways tell in the end.
    We just have better players all over the park and there is not a single Pommie player who would get into our team - and that is the truth.
    We will knock them over early tomorrow - less that 200 - and them bat them out of the match and out of the ashes.
    Hopefully this will put an end to the ugly, boorish and premature gloating from the Poms.

    Jimmy

  • Comment number 16.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 papa smurf...
    Swann bowled a miserly (about) 2 runs an over, took 2 wickets, a third of his overs were maidens. It was him stopping up the other end which helped apply the pressure that forced the Aussies out. Frankly what more do you need. He is class in a glass....
    After a 5-0 whitewash last time out, 2-2 is fantastic. 2-1 would be brilliant. 3-1 would be cloud 9.
    Can't you ever just enjoy the moment for 5 minutes?

  • Comment number 18.

    Re 16. papa shango always right wrote:
    I just hope we don't think our 2-2 draw isca good result. That 2nd innings showed they will win in Sydney. Swann looked clueless when they got after him!


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes that 258 all out in the second innings would have anyone quaking in their boots!
    They really belted Swann's 27 overs for 59 runs. Swann is having a terrible series with 13 wickets, so much so if he was playing for Australia he would be their joint top wicket taker.
    This series is on a knife-edge. Any result is possible! Well other than an Australian win.

  • Comment number 19.

    Excellent

    Thorough going good result and out-played them in all departments from 1 to 11.

    As many have already written, Sydney could be a completely different landscape (as it often has been in the past) and we need to win again.

    It's all opinion, but I'd only consider one change - think about dropping a btasman to make room for another spinner. Panesar for Collingwood and move all from Prrior downwards up one. I'd consider it and then reject it - KP can be our second spinner and the further down we bat the harder it will be for them to beat us.

    For them? Cheeky for an Englishman to say but they are crushed between a need to make changes - two or three batsmen, at least one spinner and a quick - and damage limitation. It's tough. Oh so tough.

    And to PSAR "they will win in Sydney". GREAT banter as usual old boy. How do you want to get me my money? Or would you prefer to double up for the next match?

  • Comment number 20.

    was just wondering how papa shango could possibly turn this round to make england look bad ..... he still hasn't.

    Very Well done england, well done strauss, and well done the barmy army they were magnificent!! P.s Colly for double ton at sydney!

  • Comment number 21.

    16#
    Some tailend slogging with the game already lost does not show they will win in sydney infact that 2nd innings showed how out of form most of the Aussie batsmen are and can only give England confidence that a 3-1 victory is on the cards

  • Comment number 22.

    I've read Papa's Shango's comments on other boards and there are real delusions there.

    One comment after Day 2 of this test was that the test was on a knife edge.

    The constant sniping at Swann makes me think that he must have not signed an autograph or something for him.

    Two Australian players batting like it was a one day game when they were over 200 behind in a hopeless case is not simulating Test Cricket.

    Swann was brought on to get one of them to hole out which they did.

    How Australia must wish they had at least any resemblance of a spinner.

    This England team is not the finished article but at least it's heading in more than the right direction.

    At the start the teams seemed quite well matched. The difference is that Australia's team didn't produce.

    A classic case is Anderson v Johnson, but all the individual battles were won by England.

    Hussey, Haddin, Siddle all can hold their heads up, the other eight can't. The only problem on England's side is a struggling Collingwood.

  • Comment number 23.

    Brilliant series, brilliant blog. There's no reason - if we keep our heads - we can't emerge from Sydney as 3-1 series victors.

  • Comment number 24.

    Papa Shango - have some fun for once in your life!

  • Comment number 25.

    Papa-Shango;

    Why do continue to write such drivel? I cant believe that your an England fan as you would be celebrating. My advice to you would be to lose that chip off your shoulder as well as that huge 'Tall poppy Syndrome' and just enjoy the result.

    For the record, i feel that the Aussies will be desperate to salvafe some pride at the SCG and that may be their downfall as they will push too hard.

  • Comment number 26.

    England played as a team and did everything right,so they won the match and secured the Ashes.Congrats to them.
    Australia as a team,man for man were comprehensively beaten.
    Lot of flak has gone Ponting's way,however spare a thought that when he took over the captaincy in 2004 he had Hayden,Langer,Gilchrist,Warne,Lee and McGrath in his team,albeit unfortunately with the majority of them coming to the end of their time.
    There were no players of that calibre coming along and certainly not in the current side.
    There is no doubt that if a stand out replacement captain was available then Ricky would be on his way.The fact is that at the moment there isn't one in sight,so Ponting has to carry on,which is apoor state of affairs.
    At 36 ad the 2nd highest scorer in Test cricket,2nd highest scorer of Test centuries and secured more wins than any other Aussie captain it maybe Ponting will make the decision to call it a day himself.

  • Comment number 27.

    Papa-Shango

    Do you write this rubbish just to get a reaction from people? Because surely you don't actually believe the stuff you write.

    You say "Swann looked clueless" he's the no 2 ranked bowler in test cricket, not bad for a "clueless bowler", I think it's you that's clueless.

    Oh and by the way, it's 2-1 at the moment, not 2-2, if Australia do somehow beat England in Sydney next week, then your comment would make sense, but only then.

  • Comment number 28.

    If neanderthals like Mrs Shango had any influence on the selectors over the last few years the present English team would not only be missing Colly but also Jimmy, KP, Strauss, Cook and Bell. Why do some so-called English supporters never seem to seize the day and glory in our winning? Leave the vitriol to the soccer supporters and let us celebrate our beloved summer game.

  • Comment number 29.

    Been watching all nights from Slovenia and what a fantastic feeling it is!
    My cricketwatching started in 1976 when someone was supposed to grovel
    and boy the Aussies are groveling now! Sydney will be the final nail in their coffin,
    then we`ll beat them comprehensively at the T20 and ODI series and then its the
    World Cup for England.
    As for Oz, they just don`t have (Siddle apart) a decent wicket taker, Johnson can only do it in very specific conditions, their batting is in a disarray because our bowlers send shivers down their spines. Well done, England and keep it up!
    Just a final word on the inevitable Papa - the gentleman is of course perfectly etitled to his opinion and we are perfectly entitled to ignore them...

  • Comment number 30.

    Easy win for England. And the embarrassing thing is, this England team is actually no better than those that were ritually humiliated on a biennial basis over the last twenty years. And if it wasn't for their injection of South African talent - Strauss, Pietersen et al - they would actually be worse than they were in the 90s - if we can even compute that.

    The Aussies are poor now, and they'd better get used to the fact.
    England are as good as they were - i.e. mediocre.

    The finest test-playing teams of the present day - India and South Africa - may not be up to the standard of the 90s/00s Australian team, but they are still head and shoulder ahead of their woeful opposition.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well done England on retaining the ashes. Now lets march on to Sydney and win 3-1. I really can't see this England team letting it slip just because they've retained the ashes. Their blip this series was in Perth on a pitch very alien to them. If the Aussies do start to play and the batsmen score runs then it will be a draw. If they we'll score big and Swann that average of average bowlers will get them and show the likes of Papa what he can do on a pitch that gives him something to bowl on. Roll on England to that number 1 spot. Can't wait for India in the summer.

  • Comment number 32.

    Brilliant! Australia have been marmalised. England will rule triumphant in Sydney. Bring on the Saffers and Indians - 2011 is the year England will become number 1.
    Shove that in your pipe and smoke it Mr Papa!

  • Comment number 33.

    Well done England on retaining the ashes. Now lets march on to Sydney and win 3-1. I really can't see this England team letting it slip just because they've retained the ashes. Their blip this series was in Perth on a pitch very alien to them. If the Aussies do start to play and the batsmen score runs then it will be a draw. If they don't we'll score big and Swann that average of average bowlers will get them and show the likes of Papa what he can do on a pitch that gives him something to bowl on. Roll on England to that number 1 spot. Can't wait for India in the summer.

  • Comment number 34.

    # 30 joke post surely!
    Well done the England boys, fantastic performance against and can see nothing other than a 3-1. A quick word on Ponting, he's taken a lot of stick over the last few days, not least from myself, but have to say he was very gracious in defeat. He didn't try and hide behind the toss, better conditions for England etc as Watson did the night before, but told it exactly like it is. Australia was totally outplayed.

  • Comment number 35.


    Coach Andy Fower and skipper Strauss have done a wonderful job with the talent at their disposal. Congratulations to the history boys for the massive win against their formidable challengers.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 36.

    as a 27 year old, its fair to say i have followed england through plenty of bad times and not so many good ones. certainly australia away has always been hard to take, waking up in the mornings to find we had been outplayed again. so for this series to happen and for us to retain the urn is like a big long dream, i just hope im not having a very long sleep!
    but like i said yesterday and vaughan has said we need to win this series. australia are now so poor a 2-2 draw would be an awful result.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 30 "if it wasn't for the injection of SA talent"

    Lets not get all ethnic cleansing please. After all every EVERY country is made up of economic migrants, whether they are this gereration or tens of previous. And Australia is a particularly good example of this.

    we should be proud of this and be making even more effort to play folk from different backgrounds (when they are good enough)

  • Comment number 38.

    When you break it down to the bare stats you can see just why England have retained the Ashes.

    The combined runs of the England top 6 so far is 2011 compared toe the Aussies 1746, not that much in it really although England look more sound.

    Its the bowling that makes excellent reading for English fans, especially since it was said that they would'nt be able to perform down under.

    If you take the four highest wicket takers from both sides, England have taken 57 wickets for 1713 at an average of 30 compared to the top four wickets takers for the Aussies who have 29 wickets for 1334 at an average of 46.

    Massive congrats to England for performing in Australia and beating what i consider to still be a very good side.

  • Comment number 39.

    26 Princerooinek

    It must be a worry. 36 is quite an age to be playing top class sport so all power to Ricky Ponting's elbow. He's a proud man who will desperately want to lead his side to a victory in Sydney and then, if he's sensible, tender his resignation. It would be pointless, and indeed, a huge insult to one of Australian cricket's greatest servants if he were to be unceremoniously fired before the 5th Test.

    Tom Fordyce is probably right in that Australia do now face a lean spell. They have relied on a cadre of players who were some of the best players in history, without bringing through new players. Everyone's either 35 or 21 and there aren't enough players at the peak of their powers at the moment. It's like England's 2003 Rugby World Cup team. They finaaly managed to triumph then half of them retired. The RFU had criminally failed to plan for anything other than the happy ringing of cash-tills and the result has been six years in the wilderness...that have just ended hopefully with home and away wins against Australia in the same year!

    Australian cricket has got some rebuilding to do. Plus some readjustment of expectations! Langers, Warnes, Waughs etc are once in a generation players. To expect a similar crop to all mature at the same time again is a tall order.

    PS: I'm working on the theory that Papashango is an economist i.e. someone who can always detect signs of cloud in a silver lining!

  • Comment number 40.

    #38 Eirebilly

    Not sure how you can compare total runs scored and say not much in it. The Aussie batsmen have had a couple more goes than us.

    Boy I loved typing that.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have to say Justin Langer gave a very honest interview before the last day although he did sound a bit like Stuart "The Brand" Baggs with his repetition of "22 years old" however he really did come across as knowing that the final product is not there and they have a long way to go to be competitive. They aren't going to hide the fact that they haven't been good enough and the players coming through aren't good enough and that they have not been strong enough mentally to win against England.

    Can see a fair few young Aussie's being pushed into county cricket if the Aussie selectors have been listening to Shane Warne.

    Lets celebrate the moment, and not only congratulate the players who have done the business on the pitch, but all the coaches and backroom team who have put the hours with the players to make sure they can perform to the level they have.

  • Comment number 42.

    Rest in Peace Australian cricket.

  • Comment number 43.

    #40;

    Yeah your right, maybe a combined average per innings would show an even bigger gulf between the 2 batting sides.

    The average works out per top 6 batsman per side per innings as England 60 and the Aussies 37. Big difference indeed.

  • Comment number 44.

    30 G_K

    Characteristically graceless! Why not just go and fester in your ugly, self-aggrandising national myths! You just don't get it do you? This England team probably would not have beaten the 1990s Australia team because that team was exceptional, the best cricket team that ever played. They were the exception, not the norm! You've simply built your fragile self-esteem around around an exception and are now suffering the grief and denial of discovering that Aussie cricket, and by extension you, are simply mortal after all.

    It's a journey brother...the pain will subside eventually!

    I'm off to the Herald website to have a laugh at all the other carpet-chewing xenophobes who are having some...errr...adjustment problems!

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent day at the G today.

    Hats off to the Barmy Army who have stuck with England through thin and thin - and now, finally England bring it home in the enemy's back yard, and what a celebration it was in the bastion of Aussie sport..

    Well done to the lads, outstanding result, the Aussies had their chances but were completely outplayed - despite GB's (PSAR?) prediction after 2 milliseconds of play.

    I have to say I was a real sceptic, very pessimistic about our chances, especially when Broad went home, but boy was I proved wrong - good!

    Walking around Melbourne last week I kept seeing flags promoting the Boxing Day test - "History will be made" they said, with a picture of Ponting doing something we haven't see much of in the last few weeks, playing a stroke. Well they got part of it right - HISTORY WAS MADE, the other bit, Ponting playing a stroke, was completely wrong...

    We now have some very important business in Sydney. We need to win, a draw won't do, have to take it 3-1. Come on lads, COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • Comment number 46.

    #7

    Competitive? It's not that hard. Meaning not such a one-sided affair. It's not some kind of hubris to mask the real problem as you are trying to suggest.

    Of course there's "only winning and losing" but two innings plus loses is not competitive cricket. I wouldn't mind losing the Ashes in hard fought games but this Australia team, when down, just rolls over without a fight.

  • Comment number 47.

    An amazing and well deserved victory for England team and fans. I guess what India started with Australia... England has finished it beautifully.

  • Comment number 48.

    A brilliant result. Going to Sydney and finishing the series at 3-1 will be the icing on the cake. Even a draw at 2-1 would be just perfect. Actually....who really gives a stuff.....clearly we don't want to lose in Sid....but England have retained the Ashes!
    Interesting....I don't remember how much they were, but Tom, my initial reaction to reading that the fans paid AUS$30 for a last day ticket was that it must have been a damn sight less than people paid for Last Day tickets at Lords and the Oval - roughly the equivalent of twenty quid.

  • Comment number 49.

    #37 - "Economic migrants". That's exactly what Pietersen and Trott aren't.

    Strauss migrated with his family when he was a boy (as did Khawaja). Both these men would be living in the UK and Australia respectively, regardless of their cricketing abilities.

    Pietersen and Trott came to England to play cricket. They are cricketing migrants. A subtle difference, but a valid one. I would put Morgan in different category (with Wessels and Greig) as they are unable to represent their countries of birth at international level.

    That is why you English will continue to hear that you have a cricket team representing England, but not an English cricket team.

    Full congratulations to this cricket team for outplaying Australia.

  • Comment number 50.

    I´ve enjoyed this. Now on to Sydney and to complete the job. Really 3-1 is not a fair reflection of the series. In the cold light of day that defeat at Perth will ranckle and I think that the side will reflect that 3-0 or even 4-0 was on and should have been taken.

    It´s odd to remember how things looked just a few months ago. Then we thought that 2-2 would be a good result and just about achievable. In fact, after the 2009 Ashes, when Australia laid waste to all before them with some imperious performances, it looked like we might get a nasty shock. Up until that loss last summer v Pakistan, the Australians had done little wrong for about 10 months. A lot of people have been comparing their decline to that of the West Indians in the late 1990s. That decline was so slow initially that it took 5 or 6 years before it became obvious that they were falling well off the pace and several more before things reached crisis level. In contrast, Australia´s decline has become a headlong plunge: 5 defeats in the last 7 Tests; whitewashed in India when both Tests looked absolutely safe late on Day 4 and one of them offered real prospects of victory; humiliated at home by Sri Lanka; two innings defeats in a month at home to England. A side that looked world class in June suddenly looks enfeebled, not helped by peculiar selections and a lack of faith in anyone who fails (Steve Waugh managed just one 50 in his first 10 Tests, but the selectors kept faith in him - the current selectors seem to have little faith in anyone).

    Back in 1986 it looked like Australia could sink no lower and were destined for a decade or more of misery. That was turned around quickly. It will be interesting to see whether Australia follow the 1986 model or the West Indian pattern now.

  • Comment number 51.

    England have a bowling unit at last that's capable of bowling sides out on flat pitches by consistent line and length AND have an embarrassment of riches within the party. Finn might struggle to get back in after his rest. We also have the best spinner in the world. I don't think any other team has a better bowling attack right now (although I agree that Steyn and Morkel are a world class act - but Harris? Tsotsobe?) I would also rate us as the best fielding side in the world at present. I'm looking forward immensely to the India series. I rate India the most exciting team in world cricket but not the most consistent (possibly South Africa?). But first things first; a win in Sydney would be very nice.

  • Comment number 52.

    Thanks again Tom, really enjoyed reading your blogs over the course of this series. I hope that you and the England team can maintain the same form for the last Test. Wish I was there, rather than in freezing Berlin (-10 today)!

  • Comment number 53.

    #49

    Don't really want to get into all this rubbish. But are we to now start saying:-

    "The players for the All Blacks that represent New Zealand are the best in the world"

    or maybe

    "The French colonies won the football world cup in 1998"

    Please all you people get over yourself.

    COME ON ENGLAND

  • Comment number 54.

    Cracking win for England, two innings defeats in one series, who would have predicted that before the series. Just hope the boys keep their feet on the ground and dont let the Aussies sneak a 2-2.

    It really bugs me however when people moan about how many SA,Aussie etc born players we have in the side. Who cares where you are born, they have all satisfied the relevant qualification periods so this should not have any relevance anymore.

    Anyway, heres to a top notch performance and hopefully finish with another crushing win in Sydney.

    Well done boys, youve done all us cricket fans proud!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    @49

    Forgive me if I am mistaken, but I think KP and Trott make their living from cricket. By your argument if I had chosen to migrate to Australia to ply my trade, I'd be an "accounting migrant" (God help me).

    I think your distinction is far too subtle. They have chosen to play cricket in England and for England.

    I wonder how many current Australian citizens are not Australian on your defintion.

  • Comment number 56.

    Great result - congratulations England! It has to be said though that we need to go on and win the series, so the job is not over.
    I have a feeling that England have a side now that are good enough to go on and challenge for the no 1 test side position but to do that we need to show we have overcome some past frailties. A win or at least a draw in the last test is important. With the developement of Cook and Bell. Trott in imperious form. Pietersen returning to form, solidity of Strauss. The maturing of Andersen who now can take wickets in all conditions, genius of Swan. Up and coming Tremlett and Bresnen. Great wicket taking ability of Finn. Prior's wicket keeping improved by a mile and important contributions with the bat. Most of these players being relatively young. It is looking good and I'm looking forward to future test series as well as to a victory in Sidney!

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    The Australians as a unit have conducted themselves with a noticeable lack of decency in this series. To lose is never fun, but I feel the English press and online commentors, because of the excitement of victory, are largely glossing over this enormous lack of sportsmanship and respect for others.

    1. 'Ponting's' outburst against the match officials, which was in fact a ganging-up which also involved Siddle and which featured several other team members gathering around Dar (a man who has conducted himself as a consumate professional throughout the series and demonstrated that he is unrivalled at test umpiring when the heat is on). To label this as simply a captain's outburst against officials is wrong- the Aus team acted shamefully as a whole in that episode, and in a modern professional team you would expect a secondary leader to act quickly to restore some dignity when the Captain has clearly lost it. Where was the so-called future leader, Michael Clark? Hussey? That team is a disgrace.

    It should also be noted that during a time in which there is a suggestion that people of a sub-continental ethnicity are not respected in parts of Australia, and there have been incidents of racially-charged violence against Indian students (though I know Dar is Pakistani), I would expect a sportsman of the calibre of Ponting to go out of his way to ensure that complete respect for Dar is displayed at all times. I am not saying he (Ponting) is a racist. I am saying that it is the duty of those representing their country- especially the Captain- to set a 'whiter-than-white' example to ensure that they influence those watching in a way that can only be positive. The societal influence of sport is bigger than just a cricket competition.

    2. When Trott was clearly poleaxed by a nasty ricochet, the bowler had a good long look at him, and then deliberately turned and walked away. No other fielders came over to check on him. Regardless of any perceived slights in the past (and God knows if we're keeping a tally then neither side is entirely blameless) the fact remains that to deliberately not help or check up on a competitor who could be injured is not on. It's not just bad sportsmanship- it's bad human-being...manship...

    3. Contrast the general reactions of the English players to the Australian players when decisions were reviewed and went against them. The English players, at the worst, stood- mouths agape- and then continued. My perception of the Australian team during this series was that they were constantly pushing at the edges of what is acceptable conduct on the cricket pitch. It appears that at this time the Australians view gentlemanly conduct as a balancing act, rather than ensuring that they act according to, and well within, 'the spirit of the game'.

    Readers may think that the above are mere details in regards to the actual matches themselves- however, I feel that Pieterson's dismissal in the 4th test was a direct result of the palaver caused by the Australian reaction to the preceeding review. Notice that, when given out, he didn't throw his bat down, or remonstrate with Siddle, or spend five minutes complaining to the umpires like a spoilt child going back and forth between his parents...

  • Comment number 59.

    #47: Isn't finished yet. 2-1 with 1 to play. The Ashes are ours, but with your lads coming over in the Summer a 3-1 result (or even 2-1) is a better springboard than 2-2. We need to show we can string two wins together, for a start.

    #46: "I wouldn't mind losing the Ashes in hard fought games but this Australia team, when down, just rolls over without a fight."

    How often in the last 24 years have I said that? And watched an England team fall apart, try too hard, suffer injuries, lose or fail to regain form while the selectors thrash about helplessly while trying to look as though they've got a plan...

    It's called getting hammered. Y'know, I don't think you yet quite appreciate exactly how special what you had was, Down Under. Over the next few years, I think you will.

  • Comment number 60.

    Sorry, what I meant to say in Post 57 was that the Barmy Army are the most amazing people on the planet and we should bow down before them.

  • Comment number 61.

    AlanDente, couldn't agree more. When I think of the 2005 ashes all I can remember class acts like Brett Lee, Flintoff, Warne and Mcgrath behaving like true sports people- yes there was sledging, but at the end of the series the aussies were magnanimous in defeat and Freddie and co were gracious in victory.

    This time round there is a lot more desperation and malice from australia- i suppose the series is more frustrating for them- and there is a nasty edge to some of their behaviour.

    I do think the australian media are ridiculously harsh though- for ponting to be slated like he is being is a tad unfair- he is one of the best batsman and captains of the past decade, they should show some faith like they did with Hussey and we did with Cook (and those paid off pretty well!!)

    Also, what has happened to the aussie batting??? I think back to Cardiff and I can remember Ponting, North and Clarke destroying us, batting for ages and ages. Now they look like walking wickets. Watson is good for a 50, Hussey is class and Haddin is gutsy, but other than that where are their runs gonna come from? Atm if we get Hussey out for under 50 then the match is ours!

  • Comment number 62.

    #61 - could not agree more on comments re sporting behaviour but have to take slight issue on the Ponting/Captaincy claim.
    It is relatively easy to captain a great team but RP contrived to hand the 2005 Ashes initiative to England by electing to put us in at Edgbaston. Other examples of muddled thinking are available but that is enough for me.
    If that had been an England captain he would have been hounded out by the press.
    Great performance generally by England and the difference seems to be the bounce back from Perth when in the past we have rolled over. In Strauss we seem to have a Brearly calls thinker who also is worth his place - a great bonus. (No disrespect to MB intended)

  • Comment number 63.

    This England side is the best side I have seen (since 1960). The surprise is the bowling. When they lost Broad and dropped Finn (temporarily) I thought great. Unfortunately for us the replacements seem ahead of the incumbents. What a bummer! However I expect this is a temporary thing.
    Eventually the new Oz selectors (I hope) may pick two real opening
    batsmen one of whom may be Hughes. Watson is the ideal number 6.
    If Smith is the spinner well he is number 8 after Haddin or whoever the keeper is. Haddin is not a great wicketkeeper. Prior shows him up.
    However if Oz had won the toss in the third test the game would have been closer. The team has been close to that which lost the Ashes in England two years back with a couple of close results.
    Their preparation this series has been woeful as the Oz Cricket Board chased dollars and blew the Ashes. Gross mal-administration by the
    incompetant fools running the game, which includes their choice of selectors. Its a boys club who thought they knew it all.
    And they've guided us from number one to number 5 in world rankings.
    What a rant! I expect we'll be back in two years to knock these cocky Poms off their comfy perch.

  • Comment number 64.

    #61, one player turned commentator, said during his playing days that "the Australian press goes nuts, both when they win and when they lose". It makes them a double-edged sword. When Australia are beating you the press heaps humiliation on your team and however much you want to ignore it, it is hard to. In contrast, when they are losing, they heap pressure on their own side and tend to make things worse (anyone remember them commentating in black armbands in 1981???) On this occasion, after the Perth victory, I think some of the players believed their own press and thought that they really were just as good as they used to be; the result is that the papers are going to go all the harder at the players who have let them down.

    Back in 2005, the only thought was of revenge: wait until we get you back home! In 2009, they came to England to meet a side that had been beaten by South Africa at home (bye-bye Vaughan), then lost the captain and the coach in one disastrous day and slipped to a humiliating defeat in the Caribbean and were disorientated. The Australians thought that it would be easy and received a nasty surprise, but could reason that the umpiring was against them, luck was against them, England had cheated (has no side ever wasted time when trying to avoid defeat???), the statistics proved that they were the by far the better side overall, etc. In other words, it was a fluke result and nothing to worry about. They thought that this series would be just as easy as 2006/07, so they arranged a couple of silly season series before the Ashes. Unfortunately they picked two strong opponents and a lunatic programme of matches and, rather than prepare for the Ashes, destroyed morale and tired players.

    I posted back in September that the Indians would aim for a tour whitewash and that it would hardly be the best preparation to play England and so it proved. Unlike in 2006, Australia really didn´t take the England challenge seriously and have paid the price.

    Are Australia as bad as people are posting? No. They are not a bad side at all. Some of the replacements are nowhere near as good as the 2006 team, but they are in no sense a weak side. However, they aren´t a brilliant side either and they can´t affort to take a series against a credible opponent as if it were a beach game.

  • Comment number 65.

    #64 so England only had to turn up?

  • Comment number 66.

    No. Not at all, absent. England turned up as well prepared as they could be and with a proper programme of matches and a balanced squad (the one weakness was the rawness of some of the bowling reserves and the lack of batting cover, but the latter was never tested). Australia made it easier for us, but we still had to be good enough to take advantage.

  • Comment number 67.

    Dear Alan Dente,

    'Comment 58 has been referred for further moderation because Tom Fordyce feared that the writing was better and more coherent than his own'.

    House rule number 402A, subsection D.

    Just kidding Tomo, keep your hair on (as the entire World said to Bollinger).

    To paraphrase: the media has unfairly drawn a veil over a problem that is threatening to besmirch the game of cricket and turn it into a 5-day football match. If cricketers are not forcefully reminded of their duty to uphold sportsmanship then it will ultimately be to the detriment of the game.

    It is also noteworthy that cricket is a game that spans, and draws together with mutual dialogue, a number of World regions/cultures which really need all the common ground that they can get at the moment.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think these comments about the barmy army are grossly unfair. What you are missing is that when an opposition player scores a 50/100 or takes 5+ wickets they (the Barmy Army) are always the first to stand and applaud the players contribution. I have noticed that on this tour there has been little appreciation from the Aussie fans for any substantial contribution from an England player. For example when KP got to 50 in Melbourne he was booed for a decision that was vindicated by television. To me this is appaling behaviour and this should be brought to the fore front by the media rather than the behaviour of the Barmy Army, which may be loud but always acknowledges any significant contribution from any player no matter what team they are representing!

  • Comment number 69.

    What the Australian fans and media are going through is reminiscent of what England rugby union fans went through post-2003. When you have been totally dominant on the world stage it is just too painful to believe that the era has come to an end and to accept that you are getting outplayed by teams you previously expected to beat. So you go through a period of denial where everything is held up as the reason for the 'slump' other than the simple reality, e.g. the selectors are rubbish, it's the captains fault, they won because of the toss, we're playing rubbish which is making them look good, they're getting 'lucky' breaks, it's not really an England team!

    The simple truth is that not only does this England team have more ability overall than the Australian team but they have played consistently better over the series. Poor performances by Australia and excellent performances from England are two sides of the same coin. A few Aussies are out of nick, yes, but it is consistent quality bowling and long periods of good batting which has forced them into most of their mistakes.

    So it's been a long time coming but an England team has finally won the Ashes in Australian conditions. They haven't won it by default because of a poor Australian team. They've won it by, to paraphrase Ricky Ponting, "out-batting Australia, out-bowling Australia and out-fielding Australia."

    This England set up is so professional and ambitious that when this series is over they will turn their attention to India next summer and, over the next two or three years, push to become the best test side in the world.

    All that is for another day though because we've got one last important assignment to complete in Sydney next week. Finish it off, boys. Finish the job!

  • Comment number 70.

    @#16 Papa shango

    I have read your comments since the beginning of the Ashes, and until now have resisted the temptation of saying something. I hope now in the light of day you can eat your words. You have made some of the most absurd comments that i have ever heard, that to me and many others proves that:
    1. you obviously know absolutley nothing about cricket bar what you have read on the back page of the Metro.
    2. you have little in your life other than the negativity that you breath AND exhale.
    3. Have no sence of humility
    the only thing i could have possibly agreed with to a certain extent was the form of Collingwood

    i have endured ashes after ashes of disapointment since 1989 , but not once has my support and optomosm faltered, you on the otherhand are clearly the bad karma that no true cricket fan needs to entertain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Special achievement for an exciting England side, my blog on retention of the Ashes: http://jamesheneghan.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 72.

    30 dollars!...at least with it's reasonable ticket pricing Cricket Australia has got one thing right this summer. Congrats to England. A victory for pragmatism, professionalism and a group of thoroughly nice chaps....
    http://pavilionopinions.blogspot.com/2010/12/ecstasy-at-mcg-england-retain-ashes.html

  • Comment number 73.

    Congrats to the english team for retaining the ashes. Can they win the series?we shall find out next year. happy new year to all the british folk.Don't forget to move to australia or pay us a visit soon. p.s. bring lots of your money.

  • Comment number 74.

    Feeble Aussie side that proves their county system and Academy doesnt work.

  • Comment number 75.

    if australia have lost by default because they are so poor then we must of lost every series 1987-2005 for the same reason!!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Colly is an important part of the team, his fielding is arguably (but in my opinion) the best in the World, and his influence and steadying presence in the dressing room shouldn't be overlooked.

    Continuity has been repeatedly shown to help improve the fates of teams. To remove him after we have won a series would be unnecessary and disruptive.

    Also, if you ignore Papa Quango for long enough, he will eventually disappear...

  • Comment number 77.

    # AlanDente

    Colly is important, i agree with you on that, and i really want him to come good. I just think the least could be to drop one place, remember next ashes he will be 38. Do you see him doing a good job against the Indians next year?

  • Comment number 78.

    Awesome performance.

    The Aussies at home are always difficult to beat - so difficult in fact, we very rarely succeed.

    On the face of it this Aussie team has been made to look very ordinary. Coupled with a horrible selection strategy, and history will have us believe this is one of the worst Aussie sides ever.

    But lets not forget that on pre Ashes averages, this was a potentially solid Aussie team - The top order all average over 40, Ponting and Hussey averaged over 50, Clarke over 45, and Watson the all rounder over 40.

    Siddle and Johnson average under 30 with the ball.

    This Aussie side has some good good players.

    But this England side although fragile (first day at the Gabba, and pretty much all of Perth) managed to sustain their attacks.

    The Aussies mustered 14 half centuries between them, but only 3 centuries (2 by Hussey, 1 by Haddin). Watson on his own managed 4 half centuries - but England new their plans, stuck to them and always found the wicket taker when required.

    And when the Batsmen got in, they scored big - and managed to carry Collingwood.

    This was not a bad Aussie side, this was a well drilled England side, who took catches, turned starts into match winning scores, and had a bowling attack shy of great individuals, but as a collective, produced a great display.

    Excellent work.

  • Comment number 79.

    The danger is that this victory disguises the fact that English cricket is really at its lowest ebb. Take out Strauss, Pietersen and Trott, all of who are South Africans and you have the difference between two otherwise weak sides. Young English players are not coming through in number and quality from the County game.

  • Comment number 80.

    Excellent blog as ever Tom.

    Wonderful result for the England team, nice to see Strauss signalling his intent to WIN the series. To that extent, England need to pick a team to win at Sydney. Not too much tinkering please as we don't want to gift the Aussies the final test. It isn't a dead rubber.

    Perhaps Colly should step aside, if England are to be the best team in the world, they need to be ruthless. We have strength in depth with bowling, am sure we do with batting as well.

    Bell bats at 5 and Morgan comes in at 6. Bit more difficult with the bowling, Bresnan chosen at the MCG as best to exploit the conditions and which he did beautifully. Do we bring back Finn?

    Nice to see that the Aussie media have started their countdown clock to Ashes redemption. Retention of the Ashes has hurt them, a series win will hurt even more. My prediction is they will come out fighting at the SCG. Having endured the woes of English cricket for many years, all the more reason for England to be ruthless and inflict some psychological scars on the Australians!

  • Comment number 81.

    #79 WUM

  • Comment number 82.

    Will Jonathan Agnew admit that he was wrong about Tim Bresnan not being test class !!

  • Comment number 83.

    #79 bitter twisted australian WUM

  • Comment number 84.

    @DickyMorris

    No, I think he should potentially be phased out before we take on the Indians, depending on his form. However, it seems that modern cricket is developing some interesting trends in terms of the 'types' of players each team needs.

    As has been much stated, fielding is becoming the third (and equal) discipline. On top of this, I think that teams require a healthy mix of batting approaches, rather than just packing the lineup with those deemed the 'best' players.

    Morgan (the obvious replacement) in my opinion is very dangerous and very good- but is another flair batsman who always plays his shots. I'm not sure this English team needs that at the moment. I think to win series you need the correct balance. I also think that this has been analysed by the current England team setup, and this is why Colly remains and Morgan waits.

    Obviously, it becomes difficult when Colly doesn't perform with the bat. But I would argue that when he does, he can bring a steadying, extra dimension to an innings and is prepared to be less the glamourpuss, and more the forgotten grafter.

    It may be the case that Bell deserves to be moved up. However Bell is very technically gifted, and therefore incredibly good at capitalising when the opposing bowling attack is tiring somewhat. I think he is still a bit weak against fired-up, fresh, pace bowlers. I think that is why he bats where he does currently.

    It's great to be debating which English batsman is slightly less good than the others though! Bet the Aussies wish they had this kind of problem! HAHAHA...

  • Comment number 85.

    Brilliant, as a neutral it is soo nice to see the aussies humbled at home. What has made this even more enjoyable is to see the true light of Rick Ponting, he is a bad winner and even worse loser. The man has no grace at all. The english took a pummleing for over 20 years, thet never smiled about it, but were always gracious in defeat. The aussies could learn a thing or two. Come to think of it they had better because the team thay have is rubbish and better get used to losing. First SA at home now the English...................who is next!!

  • Comment number 86.

    If England win 3-1 here and India wrap up their series with SA then England will move joint 2nd with SA in the ICC Test Championship, so a series win against Sri Lanka will see us move into 2nd place. Still a fair way behind India, but a series win against them next summer will narrow the gap. We're not a million miles away from becoming the no.1 test team in the world and I for would not bet against that happening.

  • Comment number 87.

    I've just been looking at the record books and its quite interesting to note that Australia have never suffered two innings defeats in a home series. In fact the only time they have suffered two innings defeats in a year was in 1975. Englands achievements should not be under-estimated.

    As the Australian press have been declaring, history has been made. Lets hope we make it 3-1 next week in Sydney.

  • Comment number 88.

    #83, is Alistair Cook South African? Steve Finn? Stuart Broad? Tim Bresnan? Ajmal Shazad? Adil Rashid? Chris Tremlett? Chris Woakes? Lythe?

    YOUNG (and very English) Steve Finn was the leading wicket-taker over the first three Tests, but is now far from certain of his place at Sydney or next summer.

  • Comment number 89.

    #76 and #77

    Could not agree more. Collingwood's main job is to get runs but that doesn't mean that when he's not that he should be dropped. Best fielder by a distance in the team and perhaps the best in the world. Useful bowler to rest the seamers or if someone gets injured. And brings valuable experience and a steady head to a young England side.

    I'm desperately hoping he gets runs in Syndey because he knows he needs them just to reassert his place in the side. People constantly say that he doesn't perform often enough but if you look back over the past few years you'll see that he does. He also scores runs when there needed most and the majority of the time on this tour that hasn't been the case, he has come in when England are in strong position apart from twice. Besides he has only had 5 innings, not enough evidence to drop someone.

    He may even retire from tests after this series and concentrate on the one-dayers but the way he was speaking after the MCG suggested he wants to battle and prove his worth in the team.

    Also good friends with Strauss and that never hurts but he's easy to get along with and a cool hear; you need that in a team.

  • Comment number 90.

    As usual Tom, great Blog.

    This has been the best series in a long time, and not just because England have won, but because they have outclassed Australia in every area of the game.
    The domination in recent years by Australia has now come to an end, and they need to look to themselves to improve, and sooner rather than later.
    Now it is also for England to go on and realise the potential they have, the ability and the strength in depth to bring through the ranks the young players waiting in the wings.
    It really could be the start of a Golden age for English Cricket, yes there will be some stutters and bloopers on the way, but that is English Cricket.
    The reality is they won't win every Match, but they need to go on playing and believing that they can.

    That will make the real difference.

    Well done England, and well done TMS on giving us the best coverage anywhere, Sky TV can go whistle, I would rather listen to Aggers and Co than watch the inane coverage from the Murdoch Murderers.

  • Comment number 91.

    Papa Shango Always Right - Swann looked clueless when you lot got after him? Your second innings shows you'll win in Sydney? Obviously you've had too much Fosters.

    This Australian side is gutless, clueless and ineptly led. On current form Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, Johnson, Smith and Hilfenhaus will not get into England's squad, let alone the starting XI. With Sydney being a wicket more condusive to spin who's going to take the wickets for you? Johnson? Hilfenhaus? Doherty? Hauritz? Smith? Apart from Siddle you've got little to worry us in the seam department and nothing in the spin department. If my maths is correct in 4 Tests Australia have taken 47 wickets, we've taken 71.

    Batting wise Watson's not had a bad series but can't convert a good score into a big score, there has been very little from Hughes (technically and mentally deficient), Ponting (only 1 score of note in Brisbane on Day 5 when it didn't matter) and Clarke (only 1 sxcore of note but switched off when needing to make a big century) & Hussey and Haddin can't be relied upon every innings to bail you out and paper over the cracks. Your tail - apart from the first innings at Perth, hasn't contributed anything of note when it's mattered.

    That 9th wicket partnership today proves absolutely nothing when trying to determine the result of the next test. All it did was show up the Australian top order as not being good enough. They have consistently not applied themselves in the same way Cook, Strauss, Trott, Pietersen and Bell have done during the series.

    If the Australians win the last Test I will come on here and say well done. I very much doubt you'll do the same if England win. I do agree with you in one way, though, a 2 - 2 scoreline won't be good enough for Australia .

  • Comment number 92.

    #79, you forgot Prior. But was difference does it make, they have chosen the country that they want to represent and have performed. I dont see the point of stating that 4 of their players are from a different nation. No one ever mentions this about the Aussie or New Zealand Rugby teams.

  • Comment number 93.

    87. At 11:56am on 29 Dec 2010, papa shamgo wrote:
    I've just been looking at the record books and its quite interesting to note that Australia have never suffered two innings defeats in a home series. In fact the only time they have suffered two innings defeats in a year was in 1975. Englands achievements should not be under-estimated.

    As the Australian press have been declaring, history has been made. Lets hope we make it 3-1 next week in Sydney.

    ================

    I guess that you mean "two innings defeats at home in a year", but in 1985 we beat them by an innings and 118 at Edgebaston in the 5th Test and then an innings and 94 in the 6th Test at The Oval (with Allan Border famously whinging that his side had been robbed by the umpires in that 5th Test).

    People will enjoy saying that Australia were awful and that we had nothing to beat, but winning big in Australia is as tough as it comes - maybe winning big in India is harder, but if it is, it is only marginally.

  • Comment number 94.

    And yes, I know that should have been "Edgbaston"!!!!

  • Comment number 95.

    I have to say that, despite cameo performances from Miller and thediplodocus, there has only ever been one contender for the highly coveted AAW (Annoying Aussie WUM) trophy.

    Fittingly this particular candidate has a definite air of schizophrenia about him, having trolled under two variations of a particularly silly user name. Without further ado, I give you a brief selection of some of his more lunatic and ill-advised predictions:

    12:01pm on 28 Dec 2010
    #24 The match isn't won yet,still 2 good players at the crease & all 4 results still possible.

    7:55pm on 27 Dec 2010
    #206 feel free to take the rise, just check out my predictions & realise I do talk sense.

    7:36pm on 27 Dec 2010
    Writing off Ponting will come back to haunt you tomorrow when you wake up & he is 150 not out, with them closing in on a lead. I have been right all through this series, ignore me at your peril.

    5:03pm on 27 Dec 2010
    #139 Oz won't save this game. They'll win it.

    12:26pm on 27 Dec 2010
    #44 Smith & Siddle to wrap up the tail. Ponting to show more of the spirit he displayed today and get a big hundred, Clarke looked in good nick as well, so he could be a big player.

  • Comment number 96.

    #93 I wasn't going to point out the spelling (i would be being more than hypokritkal) but yes i did mean two innings defeats at home in a year. Its never happened to Australia before in the same series at home, so i think that is quite an achievement. Even when the WIndies destroyed them in 88 they didnt manage that.

  • Comment number 97.

    Lovely jubbly!!!

    Like several others I've backed England 2-1 so a draw in Sydney will be perfick but I won't exactly be gutted if we go on to win 3-1. What a top way to lose your money!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    #91. papa shango is always right is not an australian and we don't drink fosters, you do. please come to australia and see for yourself. ps. bring lots of your money

  • Comment number 99.

    Does it not occur to anyone that Papa Shango may be a plant (and I don´t mean a geranium)? In his anglophobic way he reminds me of an old friend of ours, Sundaram KR, who was a gad-fly on here for years.

    Actually, that kind of post can be very good for the Blog as it has led to some extremely good and well thought out posts to refute him. It´s never a bad idea to have someone who makes you think a bit by being provocative and it has long been suspected that one or two of the most outrageous posters over the last 8 or so years have been not unconnected with BBC Sport (mind you, Tom´s swipe at him yesterday makes me suspect that this one is bonefide).

    What I do welcome is the fact that most of the Australians who have come on here have posted thoughtfully and been gracious. The number of foulmouthed, so-called fans who have just come on here to spread bile has been minimal. Tougher moderation seems to be working. It has also seemed to discourage some of the more radical English fans.

  • Comment number 100.

    The thing that pleases me most is the decline of the 'star who will win the match'. England has become a team with a big ego and ceased to be a team of people with big egos. The best theing that happened to make this team was when KP lost the captaincy. At that moment England became a team. At that moment all the England players realised that they would have to work hard to win matches rather than 'do OK' so that some star could win the match for them. The lesson is that we should not build up any individual again. Recognise their talent - yes. Rely on it - no

 

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