England nailed Australia's coffin on the fourth day of the fourth Ashes test at Melbourne to retain the urn for the first time in 24 years. They did so by inflicting upon Australia one of their heaviest losses, with a margin of an innings and 157 runs.
On the morning of the fourth day, England needed three more Aussie wickets (technically four but Ryan Harris retired hurt) to retain the urn. They did so in less than 90 minutes. It would have been done and dusted earlier had it not been for an 86-run stand between Peter Siddle and Brad Haddin, which ultimately just served to delay the inevitable.
The Australian fans, who had turned up despite the miserable condition of their team, had something to cheer about in Brad Haddin's half-century. After Chriss Tremlett rattled Mitchell Johnson's (6) wickets early in the day, Siddle (40) and Haddin (55 unbeaten) found the fence off Swann on more occasions than one.
However, after Haddin's 86-ball half-century, Siddle and Hilfenhaus fell in quick succession, prompting a huge din from the Barmy army amongst the MCG crowd.
Focus will now turn to the Sydney test where England will attempt at a series win while Australia will try and preserve some dignity. The series has been their nightmare so far, except at Perth where they trounced an over-confident England.
In the post-match presentation, a pained losing captain Ricky Ponting said, I'm not sure if you're better off getting flogged like we have been here or go down in a tight one. Sometimes I think it can be more disappointing when it goes down to the wire, and we've been totally outplayed here. We've only got ourselves to blame, and we've got to give credit to England.
It's really hard to work out why there's been such big momentum swings, not only in this Ashes series but in previous ones too. One team dominates and then the other one does. England executed their plans really well here, and we couldn't respond quickly enough or for long enough. I've got a lot of thinking to do (about my future). I've tried my heart out, a lot of people have said I've even tried too hard. Hopefully next week I'll prepare as well as possible and make two big scores to have an influence on the series.
About his fractured finger, he said, I don't know if the finger will be OK, it's been x-rayed but the specialist hasn't had a look yet. If there's no damage and it's like it was this week, I'll play. it's important we bounce back in Sydney and give the fans something to be proud of. We've got to prove to ourselves and the fans that we're still good cricketers.
England skipper Andrew Strauss was, to state the obvious, in jubilant mood. He said, I hoped we would retain the Ashes here. You know how much hard work is needed to win a series over here. A huge amount of credit has to go to Andy Flower and the backroom staff who got us prepared for this, and even more so to the guys out on the field who did what was asked of them. We've still got a series to win.
What a great ground this is, and what an amazing place to come and retain the ashes at. This will live in my memory and in the memories of all the players. It's easy to get carried away with this win, but we still want to win the series even though we're going to be taking the urn home.
The final test of the series will start on January 3 at SCG, Sydney.