England hammer Australia to regain the Ashes

Nottingham, Aug 8 (IANS) England regained the Ashes by sealing an innings and 78-run victory over Australia on the third day of the fourth Test here on Saturday.

England needed only three wickets to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series and they took it without much trouble at Trent Bridge. Australia were bowled out for 253 runs in their second innings.

They claimed those three wickets within an hour of play on Saturday. Pacer Ben Stokes claimed a wicket on Saturday to end with figures of 6-36 in the second innings.

The win caps a remarkable reversal from the 0-5 whitewash suffered by England Down Under in 2013-14.

Stokes second over of the morning set England on their course for victory as he claimed the opening breakthrough, forcing Mitchell Starc to edge one to Ian Bell at second slip for a duck.

Fellow pacer Mark Wood got in on the act as he bowled Josh Hazlewood (0) as England sensed victory in double-quick time with barely an hour of the morning session having passed.

Adam Voges (51) did go to his half century but it was his partner Lyon whose wicket led to the regaining of the Ashes, as he played on off the bowling of Wood to spark scenes of wild celebration as England reached the crowning moment.

England took a giant step on their road to victory when Australia collapsed to just 60 all out in 111 balls on Thursday with right-arm pacer Stuart Broad taking eight for 15.

Within moments of the loss, Australian captain Michael Clarke announced his retirement after the final Ashes Test at The Oval cricket ground, in London, this month. Saturday’s defeat saw Clarke become the first Australian in more than a century to lose four successive Ashes series in England.

“I will have one more Test and that is the end of my career,” Clarke said during the post-match presentation ceremony on Saturday.

“I am retiring from international cricket. I don’t want to jump ship now so I will have one more go at The Oval.”

Clarke has scored 28 Test centuries in 114 matches, one short of Australia batting legend Donald Bradman’s tally.

Cricket greats including Australian legends Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath praised Clarke for his contribution to their country’s cricket. Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards paid rich tributes to the 43rd Test captain of Australia.

England captain Alastair Cook also lauded his opposite number.

“To Michael from the England team you were a fantastic player, fantastic leader. You should be remembered as a great captain,” he said.

England have now won five of the last seven Ashes series and the last four at home. Cook said he was proud of his team and the feat they have achieved.

“I said I wouldn’t cry but maybe I might at some stage. Someone told us to watch the Ashes from behind the sofa. From where we’ve been as a side over the last 18 months, we’ve stuck to what we believe was the right thing to do. The way the lads stepped up has been unbelievable,” Cook said.

Broad, who orchestrated the Australia collapse in the first innings praised his captain for believing in his abilities.

“Alastair Cook has stood up as a man and led from the front – he’s a pleasure to play with, he’s got such hunger for England to do well,” Broad said.

Clarke said he doesn’t blame any individual for the humiliating Ashes loss, instead took the blame upon himself and believed Australia will bounce back from the devastation.

“There’s no doubt I’ll always hold myself accountable, my performances haven’t been anywhere they need to be,” he said.

“I don’t blame anyone in the changing room, but I haven’t led from the front. There’s no doubt we’ll bounce back — it will take a lot of hard work, but the potential is there and the work ethic is there. I’ll keep the faith, that’s for sure.”

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