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Australia regain the Ashes

17 December 2013, 13:34

Perth -  Michael Clarke's Australians regained the Ashes just four months after the last series defeat in England by completing a third comprehensive test victory on home soil.

Resuming at 251-5 on the last day of the third test, England lost only one wicket in Tuesday's morning session but Nathan Lyon's dismissal of Ben Stokes for 120 soon after lunch triggered the tail end collapse and England were all out for 353, giving Australia a 150-run win.

Fittingly it was Mitchell Johnson, the man-of-the-match in the first two wins in Brisbane and Adelaide, who took the last wicket to secure an unbeatable lead in the five-match series.

"What an amazing performance," Clarke said. "We got 'em back, so it's a fantastic feeling."

Johnson finished with 4-78 and Lyon returned 3-70, the pair wrapping up the five wickets Australia needed on the last day and ending England's three-series hold on the old urn.

"We went through what England's going through now not long ago in the UK," Clarke said. "We had a tough time of it in the UK and copped a lot of criticism, but we also had a lot of support. For those people who have stuck by us, thank you!"

England captain Alistain Cook, who like Clarke was playing his 100th test, had to concede Australia was a superior team following wins by 318, 218 and 150 runs.

"We knew what a good side they were in England and we knew how tough it is coming to Australia to play. You've got to be at the top of your game and we haven't been there," Cook said. "And they've been very ruthless and never let us back into any game when they got ahead of us."

Stokes went in with England reeling at 121-4 on day four and shared partnerships of 99 with Ian Bell (60), 76 with Matt Prior (26) and 40 with Tim Bresnan to delay the inevitable in a series that has delivered lopsided results to the Australians.

He batted for almost 4 ½ hours, facing 195 balls and hitting a six and 18 fours in his first test century — and England's first of the series — before he under-edged an attempted sweep off Lyon and was well caught by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

England started the day defiantly, adding 27 runs in 13 overs to get to 278-5 before Ryan Harris took the new ball and hit a big crack on a good length first up.

The ball was hitting the cracks in the pitch and deviating at angles but Australia's bowlers could not produce the cluster of wickets they were expecting in the morning session — with England losing only Prior, who was caught behind off Johnson.

The first-session defiance raised England's hopes of hanging on for a draw to keep the Ashes alive, but England's tailend batsmen — including a hobbled Stuart Broad, who was unbeaten on 2 — provided little resistance after Stokes went.

The remaining two tests are in Melbourne starting Dec. 26 and then Sydney.

"I know everyone's hurting now. It's an incredibly tough place to be," Cook said. "All we can do is work as hard as we can on our game and come out on Boxing Day and try and put on a better performance."

The highest successful fourth innings run chase was 418-7 that the West Indies scored to beat Australia in Antigua in2003. No. 2 on the list is South Africa's 414-4 against Australia at the WACA in 2008.

- AP


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