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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Dominant England seize Ashes initiative

Dominant England seize Ashes initiative

Last updated on: December 07, 2010 15:42 IST

- Scoreboard

England completed a ruthless humiliation of Australia with their biggest Ashes victory in 24 years on Tuesday, routing their hosts by an innings and 71 runs to take a firm grip on the five-Test series.

The tourists skittled Australia's last six batsmen for 66 runs on a sunny Adelaide morning and were already celebrating the second Test triumph in the dressing room when the huge rainstorm that the locals had been praying for finally broke.

It was England's first Test victory on Australian soil since the 2002-03 tour and a first series lead in Australia since 1986-87 -- the last time the side returned home with the urn.

England have clearly lost the fear of playing Australians in Australia but the mantra of this touring party is "no complacency" and skipper Andrews Strauss was barely off the pitch before he was warning against it.

"We need to enjoy this and savour it, because it was a special victory for us," he said.

The England team celebrate winning the second Ashes Test in Adelaide"But we need to make sure that we don't take our foot off the pedal because we know Australia are going to come back at us hard and if we give them any way back into the series, they'll take it.

"We've got to be prepared for a scrap in these last three Test matches."

Every part of the England machine functioned smoothly.

The bowlers dismissed Australia out for 245 on a flat track on the first day, the batsmen accumulated 620-5 declared to capitalise on that, and spinner Graeme Swann mopped up on the last day.

Australia have nine days to get their act together before the third Test starts in Perth on December 16 but look bereft of options, particularly in the bowling unit after their overhauled attack managed just five wickets in Adelaide.

KEY WICKET

Ricky Ponting, facing the prospect of becoming the first Australia captain to lose three Ashes series, was reduced to simply exhorting his players to up their game.

"It's pretty simple, we need to win two of the next three games if we want to win the Ashes but we've got to play a bit better than we have the last test match and a half," he said.

"They've outbatted us, outbowled us, and outfielded us this entire game... We're going to have to be at our very best if we're going to work our way back into this series."

Australia had resumed on 238 for four, having lost the key wicket of Michael Clarke to part-time spinner Kevin Pietersen on the last ball of day four.

With Clarke, his team's best player of spin, back in the pavilion, the Australians were always going to struggle on a fifth-day pitch providing turn for Swann.

Any hopes of a gritty fight back to salvage a draw were extinguished quickly when Mike Hussey, who had been the pick of Australia's batsmen in the series to date, attempted a rash pull shot off the bowling of England quick Steve Finn.

Anderson took the easiest of catches at mid-on to remove Hussey for 52, then struck with his own bowling, dispensing with Brad Haddin courtesy of an outside edge for 12.

Anderson then trapped Ryan Harris lbw for his second golden duck of the match on the next ball, though he was denied a hat-trick when Xavier Doherty fended off a short-pitched delivery on the first ball of his next over.

BARMY ARMY

In between, Swann had accounted for the out-of-form Marcus North with a plumb lbw, although he was forced to call for the TV umpire after his appeal was refused, to give England three wickets in four deliveries.

The spinner then delivered the coup de grace, clinching a comprehensive victory by bowling both Doherty for five and Peter Siddle for six to finish with five for 91 and the Australians all out for 304.

The final dismissal prompted wild celebrations on the pitch as the players rushed to embrace as England's "Barmy Army" of cricket fans roared with delight.

Pietersen, who played in the 2006 defeat in Adelaide when England declared on 551 but were skittled to defeat on the final day, was awarded man of the match honours, mainly for his career-best innings of 227.

"Four years ago it was a very, very horrible dressing room to walk into, a very quiet dressing, a very negative dressing room and not as united as the dressing room is at the moment," he recalled.

"Individual performances obviously add to a team victory and I think the team victory today is incredible, it's the best feeling, no matter who gets the runs and who takes the wickets."

England suffered a blow before play commenced with the news that fast bowler Stuart Broad had been ruled out of the rest of the series with a torn abdominal muscle.

"He's distraught and we're distraught that he's going to be leaving us because he's a big part of our team both on and off the field," Strauss said.

Australian batsman Simon Katich is also likely out for the series with an Achilles injury.

"It's a big loss for us, no doubt," said Ponting. "He's an experienced player and a great character to have around the team."

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