Crowning Ashes glory for England
England completed their Ashes mission in suitably emphatic fashion with a crushing innings-and-83-run win over Australia in Sydney.
Rain and belated resistance from the Australia tail briefly held them up on the final morning of the fifth Test, but the last of the three wickets they required arrived half an hour before lunch.
The sight of Michael Beer playing on to Chris Tremlett will be replayed countless times over the days, weeks and years to come, and is an image that will live long in the memory of the players who have achieved what no other England side have for 24 years by beating Australia on their own turf.
For the record, Australia were bowled out for 281, having added 68 runs today.
Their fate had long since been sealed, and not once was there any let-up in the singing from the thousands of England fans who, granted free entry, poured into the SCG to watch their heroes administer the last rites on the oldest of cricketing foes.
Only those who are one ball short of an over could argue that the margin of victory in this match was unwarranted, and a 3-1 scoreline was the ultimate reflection of the gulf between the sides. Anyone in disagreement need look no further than the fact each of England’s three wins came by an innings - for the first time in history, no less.
There is a danger of hyperbole on occasions like this, but the scale of England’s achievement - on what is regarded as the toughest of cricketing tours - cannot be overstated.
Andrew Strauss’ name can be added to a list featuring Mike Gatting, Mike Brearley, Ray Illingworth and Len Hutton, the only captains to win the Ashes in Australia since the Second World War.
However, he will be the first to acknowledge the contribution of each and every one of his charges, with Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, James Anderson and Tremlett most prominent among them.
Paul Collingwood’s struggles with the bat will not lessen his joy one jot. Indeed, they were probably the least of his worries as he led England out on his final day as a Test cricketer. It was an honour that matched the quality of the player.
The plaudits for the tourists have been eloquent and plentiful throughout this tour - with the exception of their Perth defeat - but perhaps the best summation of their performance over the last six weeks came from Shane Warne: “They played bloody good cricket.”
England’s cricket today perhaps lacked the ruthlessness which has become their trademark, allowing Peter Siddle to make a Test-best 43 and Steven Smith to convert his overnight 24 into an unbeaten 54.
As resolutely, and idiosyncratically, as Smith batted, he was unable to prevent the last three wickets tumbling in little more than six overs.
Fittingly, given the ethic around which this England team has been built, they were shared.
Graeme Swann ended the frustration caused by a 35-minute interruption for rain and an eighth-wicket stand of 86 when he had Siddle, sweeping, taken by Anderson at deep square-leg.
Anderson located Ben Hilfenhaus’ edge moments later to complete figures of 3-61 - he finished with 24 wickets at 26.04 in the series - and Tremlett ensured he will top the bill on the highlights reel by bowling Beer via bottom edge.
At precisely 11.57am Tremlett was swamped by his team-mates (as much as a man of 6ft 7in can), simultaneously bringing the hordes of travelling supporters to their feet.
England’s fans have shelled out plenty of their hard-earned cash to make their way to Australia this winter. It must be some of the best money they have spent.