ADELAIDE, (Reuters) – Australia captured England’s four remaining wickets within an hour to close out an emphatic 218-run victory in the second Ashes test yesterday and push England to the brink of a humiliating series defeat.
The crushing win has Australia 2-0 in the five-test series, a stunning turnaround from the northern Ashes that England won 3-0 earlier this year.
The hosts will fancy their chances of securing the famous urn in Perth, where England have not won in over 30 years.
“It’s enjoyable, no doubt,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said in a pitchside interview. “We’re finally getting the results for the hard work and commitment over a long period of time.
“(Realistically) that’s our second test win in the past 12 months. There’s a lot of work for us to get back to the number one position.”
After a 10-minute rain delay, England resumed on 247-6, still 284 runs shy of their victory target, with paceman Stuart Broad and wicketkeeper Matt Prior tasked with mounting an improbable rescue mission.
But Broad lasted just five balls.
After pulling a short delivery from Peter Siddle for six he came unstuck attempting the same shot on the next ball, smacking it to deep square leg straight to Nathan Lyon, who hardly needed to move to take the catch.
With Broad gone for 29, Prior notched his first half-century to end a wretched run of scores since an unbeaten 110 helped England save a series-deciding test against New Zealand in Auckland in March. Attacking virtually every short-pitched delivery hurled down by Australia’s seamers, Prior pulled Siddle square to the fence for a boundary to bring up his 50.
Captain Clarke lost patience with an expensive spell from Mitchell Johnson and brought in seamer Ryan Harris, with the move paying instant dividends.
Graeme Swann, who had hung on for half an hour for six runs, drove at a short one moving away and succeeded in only nicking straight to Clarke in the slips.
Prior was caught in the deep by Harris for 69 hooking Siddle, and Harris returned to seal the match by having Monty Panesar caught at short extra cover by Chris Rogers for a duck.
In contrast to the defiance shown on the fourth day, the last four wickets fell within an hour and the crushing defeat means England will head to Perth in major trouble for the third test, which starts on Friday.
Having succumbed to Johnson’s pace bowling in the first two tests, Perth’s WACA is the seamer’s favourite hunting ground and England must somehow find a way to counter his influence if they are to avoid losing the series.
Australia first innings 570-9 declared
England first innings 172
Australia second innings 132-3 declared
England second innings
A. Cook c Harris b Johnson 1
M. Carberry c Lyon b Siddle 14
J. Root c Haddin b Lyon 87
K. Pietersen b Siddle 53
I. Bell c Johnson b Smith 6
B. Stokes c Clarke b Harris 28
M. Prior c Harris b Siddle 69
S. Broad c Lyon b Siddle 29
G. Swann c Clarke b Harris 6
J. Anderson not out 13
M. Panesar c Rogers b Harris 0
Extras (b-1 w-4 nb-1) 6
Total (all out, 101.4 overs) 312
Fall of wickets: 1-1 2-20 3-131 4-143 5-171 6-210 7-255 8-293 9-301
Bowling: Harris 19.4-3-54-3 (1-nb, 2-w), Johnson 24-8-73-1 (2-w), Siddle 19-4-57-4, Lyon 26-7-78-1, Watson 6-3-6-0, Smith 7-0-43-1.