England bask in Ashes glory

ENGLAND finished their triumphant Ashes series yesterday with a treasured piece of history in the bag – and a taste for more.

It had seemed a formality since the end of day three in the final Test at Sydney that they would wrap up their first series win in Australia for 24 years – and so it proved, aninnings-and-83-run and consequent 3-1 verdict confirmed just before noon on the last day.

Their success, as in many of those previous against an outplayed Australia this winter, came on the back of a mountain of runs from Alastair Cook and a supreme bowling collective – led by James Anderson.

The 2010/11 leading wicket-taker’s seven in the match took him up to 24 for the campaign, and Cook’s 189 in England’s mammoth 644 all out famously carried him above all but Wally Hammond among his country’s highest run-scorers in an Ashes series.

Such was their ultimate dominance – three innings victories, against one equally resounding defeat in Perth – that it was tempting to conclude it had all been a little bit more straightforward than expected.

Captain Andrew Strauss, however, said: “It hasn’t felt easy, there’s no doubt about that.

“There is always a feeling you don’t know what is round the corner, what’s going to be sprung on you.”

“Thankfully, as the series has gone on, I think we have become more dominant -and certainly those last two Test matches were as well as an England side I’ve played in has performed,” added Strauss. “When you come out here you’re slightly concerned, because you know the pressure is going to be at its greatest — and it’s when you most need people to stand up and deliver.

“You’re always wondering in the back of your mind, ‘are people going to do that?’ – and as you have seen, the guys have all done that. It’s not often you get as many people in great form as we have done on this tour. But when you do you’re a hard force to stop.”

Meanwhile, Australia stand-in captain Michael Clarke may have refuted the ‘crisis’ theory but he does agree many things have gone badly wrong for the hosts over the past six weeks, and it is up to the players to put them right – quickly.

He rejects the doomsday scenarios, acknowledges there are major issues – and backs his team-mates’ ability. “I don’t think there’s a crisis in Australian cricket at all,” he said.

“We need a lot of improvement in our game, in all areas.

“But I do believe we have the talent and potential in that changing room to do it.”

Clarke has seen evidence of the above against England, just not remotely often enough.

Intriguingly, having lost to opponents who once admired and did not appear above copying everything Australian to try to turn the tide somehow, he is not too proud to cite the England template as the best way forward.

“We’ve seen through this series that guys have stood up at different times –but we’re way too inconsistent to win a big series.

“That’s what England have shown as a team. They have outplayed us, not one or two individuals. “I think 100% we have to learn from what England did this series.”

Picture: SAVOURING SUCCESS: Captain Andrew Strauss celebrates with the Ashes Urn after England’s victory in the fifth test in Sydney. Picture: PA

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