England clinch Ashes glory
England retained the Ashes with a game to spare courtesy of a crushing innings-and-157-run triumph in the fourth Test at the MCG.
Tim Bresnan claimed the final wicket to fall on the fourth morning, the seamer having Ben Hilfenhaus caught behind by Matt Prior for a duck to spark joyous celebrations among the touring players.
England are now 2-1 up ahead of the final Test in Sydney, where they will look to wrap up a series win, and will return from Australia with the famous little urn for the first time in 24 years.
Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle combined to delay the inevitable this morning after the hosts had resumed on 169 for six, still 247 runs short of making their opponents bat again.
Mitchell Johnson was bowled by Chris Tremlett in the day’s second over without adding to his overnight score of six, but Haddin and Siddle then shared an entertaining eighth-wicket stand of 86 to hold up England’s victory push.
Siddle eventually departed for a Test-best 40 when he lofted Graeme Swann to Kevin Pietersen on the long-on boundary and Hilfenhaus soon followed to bring an end to proceedings, with Ryan Harris unable to bat after suffering a stress fracture of his left ankle yesterday.
Bresnan - England’s star performer with the ball on day three - caused plenty of problems for Johnson in an accurate opening over.
But it was Tremlett who made the breakthrough as he bowled the left-hander via inside edge and pad.
New batsman Siddle survived his first delivery but was almost run out soon after as Haddin took a risky single to gully-fielder Pietersen, whose throw narrowly missed the stumps with the batsman short of his ground.
Haddin, who had resumed on 11, and Siddle combined to frustrate the tourists thereafter, the former unfurling a number of excellent drives in an impressive show of defiance.
Siddle lofted Swann over mid-on to bring up the fifty partnership, although England's off-spinner came close to gaining his revenge from the next ball as an outside edge flew between wicketkeeper Prior and Paul Collingwood at slip.
Australia continued to use attack as the best form of defence and Haddin thumped Swann straight down the ground for an impressive six.
The wicketkeeper-batsman registered his eighth Test half-century, in addition to three hundreds, in the second over after drinks as another edge off Swann sneaked to the left of Collingwood.
Siddle then slog-swept the off-spinner over wide long-on for six, but departed attempting to repeat the trick in Swann’s next over.
That wicket put England on the brink and Hilfenhaus lasted only four balls before sending a regulation edge through to Prior off Bresnan, who finished with 4-50.
Haddin was left stranded on 55 and England’s players were free to celebrate a truly memorable achievement.