(Reuters) – Australia underlined their utter Ashes supremacy by crushing England’s hopes of a consolation victory and winning the day-night fifth test by 146 runs with two days to spare in Hobart on Sunday to seal a 4-0 series triumph.
Brittle English batting has been commonplace in the 11 years since the tourists last won a test on Australian soil and the collapse under the Bellerive Oval lights was remarkable only in that it came with victory a possibility.
In the ascendancy for the first time in the series when they were 68 without loss chasing 271 towards the end of the second session, England lost 10 wickets for 78 runs in little more than an hour and a half to crumble to 124 all out.
Australia’s pace bowling was of the same high quality as it had been throughout the five matches, but some of the shots offered by the batsmen indicated that England had given up on any hope of even extending the contest into a fourth day.
Thumping victories in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne had secured the urn for Australia before the turn of the year and only by batting out the final day did England secure a draw in Sydney.
Australia captain Pat Cummins was quick to offer thanks to Joe Root and his squad for touring despite the health protocols in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but naturally his main thoughts were for his own side.
“It’s incredible,” captain Pat Cummins told reporters. “Everything’s gone to plan, there’s just so many positives to take out of it and for this team to be part of Ashes history, it’s just been phenomenal.”
One of the few highlights of the series for the tourists has been the bowling of paceman Mark Wood and his career best 6-37 helped dismiss the hosts for 155 early in the second session to set England up for a shot at victory.
Rory Burns and Zak Crawley made a decent start to the chase with England’s highest opening partnership of the series but the match soon reverted to a more familiar script.
Cameron Green (3-21) began the rout when he dismissed Burns for 26 to bring up tea, returning after the break to remove Dawid Malan for 10 in similar style with the batsman chopping on.
Crawley had made 36 when he became the 22-year-old all- rounder’s third victim, and England were in serious strife when Ben Stokes holed out for five to Nathan Lyon at deep square leg off Mitchell Starc.
Root got his side over the hundred mark but fell for 11 when a Scott Boland delivery skidded low along the surface and into his off stump, leaving the England captain destined to head home still without a test century in Australia.
Boland, playing only his third test, took 3-18 and Cummins 3-42 as they shared the last five wickets, leaving veteran England seamer Stuart Broad unbeaten on one in what is likely to be his last test match in Australia.
“It hurts, it was a poor display with the bat today,” said Root, who said he would like to continue as England captain.
“It felt like we had a real opportunity to go and win this test match and there were some very poor dismissals in there after a very promising start.
“Disappointing to be beaten as heavily as that when we felt very much in the game.”
Australian batsman Travis Head was named Man of the Series for his 357 runs, despite missing the Sydney match after contracting COVID-19.
His two centuries, including 101 in the first innings of the fifth test, was one more than the whole England team managed on the tour.
“At this level, you’ve got to bang out performances and we’ve not managed to do that at all on this trip,” Root added.
“As a batting group, far too many times we’ve been bowled out for less than 200 and you’re never going to win test matches if you don’t get runs on the board.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, Editing by Peter Rutherford and Ed Osmond)