Australia completed a rare 5-0 Ashes series whitewash with a 281-run victory inside three days of the fifth test on Sunday as England’s batting lineup once again capitulated to pace pair Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.
Chasing a record 448 for victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground, England quickly surrendered and was all out for just 166, with Harris taking five wickets to earn man-of-the-match honours and Johnson taking his five-test tally to 37 and being named player of the series.
The ferocious spell of fast bowling ended England’s second innings inside two and a half hours, providing an apt end to a humiliating series for the tourists.
“We wanted to make sure the pressure we built in Brisbane and Adelaide, that we kept it up all series,” said Harris after claiming 5-25 in England’s second innings.
It was the sixth time in ten innings this series that England had failed to make 200, with Sunday’s performance perhaps the meekest of all. Opener Michael Carberry made 43 and there was some lusty late hitting from Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad but otherwise no real resistance.
“Today was a culmination of being under the kosh for four and a half games,” Cook said of Sunday’s rapid collapse. “Credit to Australia, I can’t even count how many sessions we won in the series.”
“That’s a pretty daunting stat to take but a very realistic statistic.”
Australia, captained by Michael Clarke, secured its third Ashes 5-0 series whitewash, joining Warwick Armstrong’s 1920-21 team and that of Ricky Ponting in 2006-07. It was also the biggest Ashes series turnaround, with Clarke’s team having lost the previous series 3-0 in England only six months ago.
Australia used the same eleven in all five tests.
“It’s very special, the roller-coaster ride, the ups and downs of 2013, it’s been a lot of work to get us where we are today,” Clarke said. “I couldn’t be prouder of my team mates for the performances they’ve put in throughout the whole series.”
“Extremely special for a number of reasons, I guess the same 11 is certainly a fantastic achievement and a lot of credit has to go to the support staff, the medical staff,” said the captain.
The rot started early in England’s second innings, with captain Alastair Cook caught behind from a loose stroke for seven in Johnson’s (3-40) first over.
Things only got worse for England after the interval losing the final seven wickets in just 52 minutes.
Carberry swiped at a Johnson bouncer and feathered an edge through to Brad Haddin. England lost a further three wickets for eight runs, with Gary Ballance (7) trapped lbw by Johnson and then Lyon dismissing Bairstow for a duck, caught at bat pad by Bailey.
Two balls later, Lyon had Borthwick caught by a diving Michael Clarke at second slip for four. The captain somehow getting his hand to the ball just above the SCG turf.
“It’s just an amazing effort, playing the last two games the way we did,” said paceman Peter Siddle who claimed 16 wickets for the series. “It’s been a long series, everyone was getting sore and weary, we wanted to get done as soon as we could.”
Earlier, Chris Rogers reached his third test century and shared a 109-run partnership with Bailey (46) to help Australia reached 276 in its second innings and set England a nearly-impossible target of 448 runs to avoid a series clean sweep.
Rogers, who had an unconvincing start to the series, has found his best form and on Sunday he frequently punctured the England field with fluent cover drivers, until he spooned a catch back to debutant spinner Scott Borthwick when on 119 off 169 balls, with 15 boundaries.
The 36-year-old Rogers, who scored a match winning 116 in Melbourne last week, is Australia’s leading run scorer across the 10 Ashes tests staged since mid-2013, with 844 runs and three centuries.
“I don’t think life gets any better than this,” said Rogers. “It’s been an unbelievable month. To finish like this ...”
“I found a bit of form in these last few games and thankfully have been able to cash in.”