|Fifth Ashes Test, Hobart (day three of five)|
|Australia 303 (Head 101, Green 74) & 155 (Carey 49, Wood 6-37)|
|England 188 (Cummins 4-45) & 124 (Boland 3-18, Green 3-21)|
|Australia won by 146 runs, won series 4-0|
England’s miserable Ashes tour ended with one last calamitous batting failure as Australia surged to a 146-run victory in the final Test to claim a 4-0 series win.
Set 271 to win, England reached 68-0 but then lost all 10 wickets for the addition of another 56 runs in Hobart.
Nine wickets fell in the final session of the third day, England collapsing with breathtaking speed and ineptitude, even by their recent standards, as they were bowled out for 124.
Pat Cummins, who lifted the urn in his first series as captain, took three wickets while Scott Boland and Cameron Green also picked up three apiece.
Mark Wood’s superb 6-37 had earlier helped dismiss Australia for 155 in their second innings to give England an outside chance of a remarkable win.
Instead, Australia repeat their margin of victory from four years ago and extend England’s winless run down under to 15 Tests.
Overall, Joe Root’s side have won only one of their past 14 Tests since February of last year.
By the time they return to Australia in 2025 it will be 14 years since their last success in an away Ashes Test.
Another predictable defeat
There were times on another freewheeling day of an entertaining Test that England might have had hope of salvaging a consolation win from their demoralising tour.
A vital decision went against them when Chris Woakes was judged to have marginally over-stepped when he bowled Alex Carey for 19. Had Carey been dismissed then, it would have left Australia 91-7 – but the wicketkeeper went on to make a crucial 49.
However, that moment was rendered irrelevant by the way England spinelessly capitulated, ending the series with another batting collapse that has become a characteristic of their Test cricket.
Six times in 10 innings in this series they have failed to pass 200 and they have not once managed 300.
This tour may well be remembered for the time in which it was played, with the Covid pandemic casting doubt firstly on whether England would take part and then played a role in their disrupted preparation.
Still, that should not be an excuse for their substandard performance and all aspects of English cricket will come under review in the aftermath of yet another drubbing down under.
Australia, a team who had played only four Tests in the previous 18 months and had to replace captain Tim Paine with Cummins on the eve of the series, were vastly superior and will be favourites to end a 22-year wait for a series victory in the UK when they travel in 2023.
One last collapse
To ask this England team to complete their highest chase in Australia for 60 years, and largest in all of the day-night Tests ever played, on a pitch offering so much for the seam bowlers seemed fanciful.
Yet Rory Burns – with his long hair untied, perhaps feeling like a man with nothing to lose – and Zak Crawley rattled along at more than four an over to put Australia under genuine pressure.
However, England batting failures are so regular that a clatter of wickets was inevitable. Sure enough, when Burns inadvertently deflected Green on to his stumps for 26, the rest followed in just 22.5 overs.
Dawid Malan, batting after his daughter was born six weeks early in Harrogate, played on off the same bowler, while Crawley walked into an edge off Green for 36.
Ben Stokes needlessly pulled Mitchell Starc to deep square leg, Root was undone by a scuttler from Boland, while Sam Billings also looked accusingly at the pitch when he chipped the same bowler to mid-on.
The tail competed to find the worst way to get out, each stroke more ridiculous than the last to hasten the beginning of Australia’s celebrations.
Wood gets his reward
Fast bowler Wood has been one of the few positives for England on this tour, not only by carrying a persistent threat with the ball, but also with an upbeat attitude and permanent smile despite the dispiriting results.
Before this match he had not got the rewards his endeavour deserved and even had figures of 0-74 from his opening 10 overs in the first innings, but after that reeled off 9-78.
When Wood had the ball, the game was entirely different compared to when any other England bowler was operating. His sustained short-pitched, hostile attack discomforted, intimidated and ultimately removed Australia’s batsmen.
Nightwatchman Boland poked behind, Travis Head gloved down the leg side, Steve Smith skittishly top-edged a hook and Starc popped a catch to short leg.
The reprieved Carey played nicely through the off side, sharing crucial stands of 49 with Cameron Green and 20 with Cummins.
Stuart Broad accounted for Green and Carey, leaving Wood to bowl the swiping Cummins for his sixth wicket.
Australia ‘outplayed us’ – reaction
Australia captain Pat Cummins: “These are the series you have in your diary years out. Winning 4-0 is huge. I am really pumped.
“Not only the 11 guys playing but the 15 players in the series. It feels like we are really building to something big.”
England captain Joe Root: “It’s been a really tough tour. We’ve been outplayed and credit to Australia.
“They deserve to win this series. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say a team outplayed us.”
Former England bowler Steven Finn on Test Match Special: “The most disappointing thing is that it was such a fantastic start from Burns and Crawley. They had Australia on the ropes and the crowd was quiet. But that was feeble from England in the end.”
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