Five-star Australia romp home
Australia became only the second side in history to complete a 5-0 Ashes whitewash after sealing a resounding victory in the final Test in Syndey.
Redemption for their Ashes defeat in England in 2005 was avenged in the best possible style, their performance at the SCG a microcosm of the chillingly efficient cricket they have played from the moment the series began in November.
Australia needed less than a session on the fourth day to wrap up a 10-wicket win, collecting the last five England wickets for the addition of 33 runs in little more than an hour before racing to a target of 46 within 11 overs.
While England - bowled out for 147 after resuming on 114 for five - can have few complaints with the magnitude of their defeat here and, indeed, the series, there could have been no better way for Australia’s three retirees to depart the Test arena.
Glenn McGrath brought down the curtain on a magnificent career with the final England wicket en route to figures of 3-38, leaving the field to the now obilgatory standing ovation from his home crowd.
The third umpire denied Shane Warne the wicket which would have ended the England innings, and he suffered the indignity of letting an edge go through his legs at first slip, but it did not matter a jot to perhaps the greatest bowler in history, who enjoyed such a rousing send-off in front of his adoring fans in Melbourne.
Justin Langer may not have hit the winning runs, but he was at the crease when Matthew Hayden steered Sajid Mahmood through point as Australia emulated Warwick Armstrong’s great side in 1920-21 in winning every Test.
Any hopes - however faint - England had of avoiding a 5-0 thumping disappeared when Kevin Pietersen edged the third ball of the day, from McGrath, to Adam Gilchrist.
Monty Panesar’s stubborn resistance was ended by Andrew Symonds’ direct hit from mid-off as Chris Read attempted to pinch a single, and still England had not added to their overnight total.
Mahmood’s thick edge for four brought ironic cheers, but when he was bowled by a shooter from McGrath in the over after Brett Lee and Ricky Ponting combined to dismiss Read, the end could not come soon enough for England.
In the event, Steve Harmison and James Anderson kept Australia waiting for half an hour, only for the latter to chip a McGrath slower ball to Mike Hussey at mid-on.
Langer and Hayden suffered no such problems with the bat, Hayden hurrying Australia to victory before lunch with a disdainful six over mid-wicket off Mahmood.
He denied his partner and great friend the opportunity to finish the match by latching on to a Mahmood full toss, but that was soon forgotten as the celebrations began.