Ruthless England dismantle Australia
England made the most eloquent statement of their Ashes intent by sweeping to an innings-and-71-run victory in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.
A devastating opening hour in which they claimed four wickets, including three in four balls, heralded a slide that saw Australia bowled out for 304 an hour before lunch on the final day.
In all, the hosts, who resumed on 238 for four, lost six wickets for just 43 runs in less than an hour and a half’s play this morning, and they been so thoroughly outplayed in this game that they must harbour grave concerns over their capacity to recover from going 1-0 down in the series.
That will be of little concern to England, whose performance today matched, nay bettered, the brilliance they have exhibited over the last five days.
Much has been written and spoken of England’s burgeoning confidence in the build-up to this tour, yet this staggeringly comprehensive victory - completed with utter ruthlessness thanks to Graeme Swann’s five-wicket haul - serves as the most graphic example of their supremacy.
The off-spinner lived up to his billing as England’s match-winner to finish with 5-91 from 41.1 overs on the sort of wearing surface he must dream of, although Steven Finn and James Anderson also played their part in hurrying through the middle and lower order.
Finn claimed the key wicket of Mike Hussey and Anderson removed Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris in the space of two deliveries - in a pulsating 10-minute spell that all but settled this contest - before Swann completed the job.
The tail - indeed, the majority of the Australia batsmen - had no answer to his wiles; the greatest compliment that can be paid is that it was no surprise when he bowled Peter Siddle through the gate to seal England’s first innings victory over Australia since Melbourne 1986.
It was Australia's first innings defeat on home soil since they lost to West Indies at Perth in 1993, and England's 100th Test win over the old enemy.
The task of taking 20 wickets, arguably the greatest challenge facing England Down Under, was achieved with some ease (or so it appeared) on a flat surface, and amid the jubilant celebrations on the pitch and in the stands it was easy to forget that England lost the toss here.
An England win, though likely, was far from a certainty at the start of a day when storms were expected; less so following the news that Stuart Broad will play no further part in the tour due to a torn stomach muscle.
The speed with which they swept home inside an hour and half today made both the bad weather (which arrived shortly after 2pm) and the absence of one third of their pace attack immaterial.
If Broad’s injury shifted more responsibility on to his bowling colleagues, it did not show.
Finn struck in only the third over with the new ball, hurrying Hussey, who added just eight to his overnight 44, into a pull which looped tamely to Anderson at midwicket. Matt Prior’s drop off Swann moments early, a tough chance off a faint outside edge, was thus redundant.
Haddin, the biggest remaining obstacle in England’s path, became the first of two victims in as many balls for Anderson when, betrayed by a lack of foot movement, he nicked the perfect outswinger behind.
Harris was lbw offering no shot to a delivery which arced back in sharply - a review of the decision showed the ball clipping the top of off stump - and Swann struck two balls later when an unsuccessful lbw appeal against Marcus North, pushing forward, was overturned on review.
Xavier Doherty, bowled defending with hope rather than conviction, joined the procession, and Swann brought the curtain down on an England performance that was not far short of faultless when he turned one back sharply between Siddle’s bat and pad.