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Tourists toil as Smith stars - How Australia won the Ashes

By MyKhel Team
Australian team celebrate Ashes triumph

Sydney, Janaury 9: The Ashes urn is once again Australia's after they wrested it back from England's grasp in comfortable fashion.

This was a series to forget for England as they failed to win a match on a tour where their batting failures and the absence of Ben Stokes cost them dearly.

Australia can now celebrate before preparing for the challenge of a tour of South Africa. New Zealand are next up for England as they start the road to a home Ashes series in 2019.

Here we look at how Australia eased to a 4-0 series victory.

First Test, The Gabba: Australia won by 10 wickets

Winning the toss and batting is supposed to be the key to victory at the Gabba. Joe Root got that part right but in doing so only served to accelerate the exposure of England's batting frailties.

James Vince offered hope he could cement his place as England's number three by hitting 83, only to be run out courtesy of a stunning throw from Nathan Lyon.

Mark Stoneman (53) and Dawid Malan (56) also went some way to vindicating their selections but England's total of 302 was still meagre.

The tone for the series was then set as Steve Smith produced the first of many batting displays in which he proved immovable, the captain unbeaten on 141. Though Australia's lead was still just 26, his magnificent performance was followed, typically, by an England collapse.

A second-innings 195, which featured an increasingly regular unconverted fifty from Joe Root, set Australia a target of 170, never proving a challenge for Cameron Bancroft and David Warner, who knocked that off in 50 overs to give the hosts a lead they would not relinquish.

Second Test, Adelaide Oval: Australia won by 120 runs

If the first Test had not been a clear enough indication of Australia's dominance, the second, another crushing victory in Adelaide, provided unmistakable evidence of the direction of the series.

Playing under the lights in a day-night Test with swing expected, Root made another seemingly logical decision after winning the toss, opting to put Australia in to bat.

That call appeared further vindicated when Test debutant Craig Overton got Smith to play on to his stumps, reducing Australia to 161-4.

But once again a bowling attack minus the threat of Stokes struggled to take 10 wickets and was frustrated by the relatively unheralded trio of Shaun Marsh (126 not out), Tim Paine (57) and Pat Cummins (44) as Australia declared on 442-8.

Another England collapse, in which Overton top-scored with 41, followed and, while Australia could only manage 138 in their second innings, a chase of 354 was well beyond the tourists' reach.

Mitchell Starc took a second-innings five-for and Hazlewood claimed the pivotal wicket of Root on 69 as Australia's attack flourished where England's floundered, putting them a WACA triumph away from regaining the urn.

Third Test, The WACA: Australia won by an innings and 41 runs

The searing heat of the WACA has long been seen as a graveyard for English cricket, and it lived up to that reputation in the final Ashes Test to be held at the Perth venue.

England may have been buoyed by the performances of Dawid Malan, who scored his first Test century, and Jonny Bairstow, who celebrated a ton of his own by touching his head against his helmet to mimic his now infamous greeting of Bancroft before the series.

But a lack of contributions from the rest of the order left a first-innings 403, scored after electing to bat, looking somewhat short of par.

Once again Australia were merciless in capitalising where England had failed, Smith and Mitchell Marsh racking up 59 fours and a six between them as the captain hit a magnificent double century and the latter came just 29 runs short of replicating that feat.

A declaration on 662-9 and a 259-run lead was Australia's reward for those displays but they looked like being frustrated on the final day as a wet pitch seemed as it may save England.

The ground staff frantically got to work with the blowers and England were eventually denied a typically British stroke of fortune, collapsing to 218 all out and surrendering the urn in meek fashion.

Fourth Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground: Match drawn

England's frustration at losing the series was heightened at the MCG as their best performance of the tour did not yield a victory.

Jackson Bird replaced Mitchell Starc, who missed the Test because of a heel injury, and England took full advantage of the absence of Australia's fearsome left-armer in the first innings.

Despite a Warner century and a lifeless drop-in pitch offering little for the bowlers, Stuart Broad rediscovered some of his best form to take 4-51 and help dismiss Australia for 327.

He carried that performance into his batting with a 56 that belied his status as England's number 10, but it was their former captain Alastair Cook who made all the headlines with a double century, becoming the first player to carry his bat in an Ashes Test for 46 years.

Cook's staying power saw England to a first-innings lead of 164, but a dreadful surface only got worse as the match progressed, with no swing, spin, pace or bounce, leaving Smith's second-innings century as undoubtedly his easiest of the series.

The teams eventually shook hands on a draw, leaving both to lament a surface that turned the occasion of the Boxing Day Test into a non-event.

Fifth Test, Sydney Cricket Ground: Australia won by an innings and 123 runs

As the mercury rose during the finale of a disappointingly uncompetitive series, England once again wilted.

Another unconverted Joe Root half-century and 62 from Dawid Malan was the best the tourists could offer after electing to bat, with counter-attacking performances from Tom Curran and Broad required to get England to 346 all out.

It was another innings in which England achieved the bare minimum, and they were soon provided one more reminder of why the minimum is rarely good enough.

Usman Khawaja (171), Shaun Marsh (156) and Mitchell Marsh (101) gave England's bowlers one last bludgeoning as Australia declared on 649-7.

And the heat and the toil of a tortuous series had clearly taken its toll on Root, who was admitted to hospital with severe dehydration but returned to battle past fifty, though his efforts were very much in vain as England were skittled for 180, the series mercifully coming to a fitting end.

Ashes win in England on my bucket list - Smith

Source: OPTA

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    Story first published: Tuesday, January 9, 2018, 5:00 [IST]
    Other articles published on Jan 9, 2018
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