Shamik Das

Monday, December 18, 2006

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye ...

Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne hoist aloft the Ashes urn

Perth, Third Test, Fifth Day: England 215 & 350 (Cook 116,
Bell 87, Pietersen 60, Flintoff 51; Warne 4-115, Clark 2-56) lost to Australia 244 & 527/5 dec. by 206 runs

Australia have regained the Ashes. Was there really ever any doubt? England held the urn for just 463 days - the shortest period ever in the history of the Ashes.

15 months on from that magical day at the Oval, 15 days of Test cricket later, and England surrendered the oldest prize in the sport shortly after lunch on the final day.

Shane Warne (who else?) triggered the downfall, superbly bowling Andrew Flintoff, bamboozling Geraint Jones into getting himself run out and trapping Steve Harmison lbw.

Shane Warne yorks England skipper Andrew Flintoff to signal the beginning of the end    Warney celebrates the completion of Australia's revenge mission

Then, two balls after lunch, Warne clean bowled Monty Panesar to win back the Ashes - the world's number one bowler picking up his 699th Test wicket in the process.

With all hope lost, England's last five wickets fell for a paltry 14 runs, a collapse reminiscent of the old days.

For England, the inquest will follow in due course. At the moment, let us just marvel at the brilliance, the sheer, unadulterated class of Australia:

16 Tests without defeat, dating back to England's thrilling fourth innings run chase at Trent Bridge; 14 wins in their last 15 Tests; 10 Test wins on the spin, 9 wins out of 9 this calendar year; 23 series without defeat;
14 years since their last home series defeat ...

"'Ave it!"

What price now a 5-0 series whitewash?

Catch the final day's highlights tonight on BBC Two at 11:20, or watch them now on the BBC Sport website - if you can stomach it, that is!


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