Australia far too good as they regain the Ashes in Perth

Australia needed just one session to take final six wickets they required to win third Test

A bizarre final day of Ashes cricket at the Waca came to a close in the most predictable manner. Australia, by winning this Test by an innings and 41 runs, regained the Ashes with ruthless efficiency.

For the third time in four series down under they polished off England at the earliest opportunity. Three down with two to play never wins. England were bowled out for 218 with Dawid Malan proving the solitary obstacle for a rampaging Australian side, led on this occasion by Josh Hazlewood, who finished withfive for 48.

The oddity was that upon arrival at the ground on another day of howling winds and gusty showers there was the sight of the groundstaff kneeling on the pitch on a good length while directing five leaf blowers at half a dozen damp spots. Overnight there had been heavy rain and strong winds in Perth and somehow water had penetrated the pitch-sized undergarment, which is then covered by a massive plastic sheet.

So the start of play was delayed by three hours. A few scudding showers would have interrupted proceedings anyway but essentially the delay was caused by the attempts to dry the damp patches, which were soft enough to allow a pressed thumb to make an indentation. The Australians were ever ready to start; England sought to delay. If the roles had somehow been reversed both sides admitted they would have adopted the same stance.


After two hours a couple more industrial-sized leaf blowers were acquired, though it was hard to tell if they made any difference. Eventually the likelihood of showers receded and Hazlewood took centre stage. From the Prindiville Stand End he raced in rhythmically to become the chief tormentor of an England side as he propelled the ball unerringly towards those damp spots.

It was hard to tell whether those spots contributed to Hazlewood's success since he was already bowling towards the end where the cracks were opening up. Of less doubt is the fact that the vagaries of the pitch were in the batsmen's minds. Certainly they would have been in the head of Jonny Bairstow after his solitary delivery.

Bairstow pushed forward to his first ball and was bowled; he paused and stared at the pitch as if betrayed before heading back to the pavilion. Certainly the ball had kept low, though it beat the outside edge of his bat rather than going underneath it. It was a terrific first ball, though not so unplayable as the one Mitchell Starc bowled to James Vince on Sunday. Whether it hit a damp spot or a crack, the seeds of doubt had been sown.

Moeen Ali might have gone three balls later. An edge sped towards Steve Smith at second slip and the catch was claimed. There was a long, agonizing review and in all probability Moeen was saved by the soft call of "not out" by Umpire Erasmus out in the middle. Soon after another delivery from Hazlewood to Moeen jagged so far that it headed towards second slip. More seeds, more doubt.

Moeen, though steeling himself, never settled. He called for an ill-judged single and would have been run out by a yard if David Warner's throw had hit the stumps. Then Nathan Lyon tormented him. There were two strong lbw shouts in succession and the second was successful; this was the fifth time in six innings that Lyon had dismissed Moeen. The battle of the off-spinners has not been a contest.

All the while Malan had been batting with composure, stout in defence and taking runs wherever possible but now he attempted to hook a leg side delivery from Hazlewood. A nick and the ball sailed into the gloves of Tim Paine.

The mopping up operations did not take as long in the afternoon as they did in the morning. Craig Overton, despite his cracked rib, came out looking like an elongated Michelin man; he played a couple of sweet shots before he was caught in the gully. Stuart Broad fell second ball to a Pat Cummins bouncer. Jimmy Anderson's first delivery thudded into his helmet just to reassure everyone that the Aussies had not gone soft and at 3.45pm a stranded Chris Woakes was caught behind to allow the Australian celebrations to begin.

On the English side post-defeat rituals begin, as set in stone as carols as Christmas. After the traditional Perth defeat there will be calls for heads to roll. Scapegoats are now as essential as turkey on the 25th. Coach, captain, cricket director? Let’s have a look at the rota. Who’s turn is it to go? In fact it is not the time for that. The series may be decided; it is not over. There are two Tests to play and rest assured that the Aussies will flock to Melbourne and Sydney anticipating a cricketing coronation. The English contingent of supporters, lots of them, will plod to the stadia more wearily.

How England play in those matches will be significant. Four years ago the tour fell apart. This team is different; the personnel may not be so gifted, but they have fought much harder than their predecessors, which is highlighted by the fact that each game has finished on the fifth day.

However this is hardly a source of celebration and the bright spots have not been dazzling: Craig Overton among the bowlers has shown some promise and pluck for the future. Most obviously Malan has cemented his short-term future after two fine, gutsy innings in Perth. But the simple truth is that England have been thoroughly outgunned by a superior team, whose best players – Smith and the bowlers – were at the peak of their game when it mattered.

England second innings

Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s

A N Cook c & b Hazlewood 14 20 2 0

M D Stoneman c Paine b Hazlewood 3 8 0 0

J M Vince b Starc 55 95 12 0

J E Root c Smith b Lyon 14 20 3 0

D J Malan c Paine b Hazlewood 54 135 8 0

J M Bairstow b Hazlewood 14 26 3 0

M M Ali lbw b Lyon 11 56 2 0

C R Woakes c Paine b Cummins 22 48 3 0

C Overton c Khawaja b Hazlewood 12 21 2 0

S C J Broad c Paine b Cummins 0 2 0 0

J M Anderson 1 7 0 0

Extras 6b 11lb 0 1nb 18

Total for 10 218 72.5 overs

Bowler O M R W

M A Starc 17 5 44 1

J R Hazlewood 18 6 48 5

M R Marsh 3 1 14 0

P J Cummins 19 4 53 2

N M Lyon 15 4 42 2

Fall of wickets

Order Name Runs

1 M D Stoneman 4

2 A N Cook 29

3 J E Root 60

4 J M Vince 100

5 J M Bairstow 133

6 M M Ali 172

7 D J Malan 196

8 C Overton 210

9 S C J Broad 211

10 C R Woakes 218

Australia first innings

Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s

C T Bancroft lbw b Overton 25 55 3 0

D A Warner c Bairstow b Overton 22 36 1 0

U T Khawaja lbw b Woakes 50 123 8 0

S P D Smith lbw b Anderson 239 399 30 1

S E Marsh c Root b Ali 28 75 4 0

M R Marsh lbw b Anderson 181 236 29 0

T D Paine 49 85 6 0

M A Starc Run Out Vince 1 3 0 0

P J Cummins lbw b Anderson 41 63 4 1

N M Lyon c Ali b Anderson 4 3 1 0

Extras 4b 16lb 0 1w 1nb 22

Total for 9 662 179.3 overs

Bowler O M R W

J M Anderson 37 9 116 4

S C J Broad 35 3 142 0

C R Woakes 41 8 128 1

C Overton 24 1 110 2

M M Ali 33 4 120 1

J E Root 3 0 13 0

D J Malan 6 1 13 0

Fall of wickets

Order Name Runs

1 D A Warner 44

2 C T Bancroft 55

3 U T Khawaja 179

4 S E Marsh 248

5 M R Marsh 549

6 S P D Smith 560

7 M A Starc 561

8 P J Cummins 654

9 N M Lyon 662

England first innings

Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s

A N Cook lbw b Starc 7 16 1 0

M D Stoneman c Paine b Starc 56 110 10 0

J M Vince c Paine b Hazlewood 25 63 4 0

J E Root c Paine b Cummins 20 23 4 0

D J Malan c Sub b Lyon 140 227 19 1

J M Bairstow b Starc 119 215 18 0

M M Ali c Smith b Cummins 0 2 0 0

C R Woakes c Cummins b Hazlewood 8 12 2 0

C Overton c Bancroft b Hazlewood 2 7 0 0

S C J Broad c Bancroft b Starc 12 10 0 1

J M Anderson 0 7 0 0

Extras 10b 2lb 0 1w 1nb 14

Total for 10 403 115.1 overs

Bowler O M R W

M A Starc 25 5 91 4

J R Hazlewood 28 9 92 3

P J Cummins 28 8 84 2

N M Lyon 22 4 73 1

M R Marsh 9 1 43 0

S P D Smith 3 1 8 0

Fall of wickets

Order Name Runs

1 A N Cook 26

2 J M Vince 89

3 J E Root 115

4 M D Stoneman 131

5 D J Malan 368

6 M M Ali 372

7 C R Woakes 389

8 J M Bairstow 389

9 C Overton 393

10 S C J Broad 403


M Erasmus, C B Gaffaney, R B Richardson, Aleem Dar


D A Warner, C T Bancroft, U T Khawaja, S P D Smith, S E Marsh, M R Marsh, T D Paine, M A Starc, P J Cummins, N M Lyon, J R Hazlewood, Sub


A N Cook, M D Stoneman, J M Vince, J E Root, D J Malan, J M Bairstow, M M Ali, C R Woakes, S C J Broad, C Overton, J M Anderson, S Sub

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