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Anatomy of a whitewash

Updated: 2014-01-08 07:10
By Agencies in Sydney ( China Daily)

Stats reveal the story of England's worst defeat in Ashes history

The body language told the story but the statistics make the starkest reading after Australia handed old enemy England its heaviest ever Ashes series defeat.

As Australia partied long and loud at the Sydney Cricket Ground and England sloped off to face a barrage of criticism, the numbers revealed the sheer scale of the host's superiority.

Its dominance was not only underlined but increased on Sunday, when it swept to a 281-run victory with two days left to complete only England's third 5-0 Ashes whitewash in more than 130 years.

England, accused of throwing in the towel and slammed in all quarters by the media, succumbed meekly to the task of chasing an improbable 448 runs to be routed for 166 in just 31.4 overs.

It was statistically England's worst 5-0 series thrashing by Australia. The touring side lost 100 wickets for 2,030 runs at an average of 20.30, compared to 1920-21 (2,779 runs/98 wickets) and the previous whitewash in 2006-07 (2,530/96).

The series marked a stunning turnaround for Australia just months after losing 3-0 in England, and was a crowning achievement for the meticulous preparation of coach Darren Lehmann along with skipper Michael Clarke.

Clarke gave an insight into the detailed planning for the series, which was executed with clinical effect.

"We spoke at the start of the series and we had set plans for individual batters," the captain said.

"The moment numbers eight, nine 10, 11 walked in, we knew we were going to hit them as hard as we could with short stuff. We planned that before a ball was bowled in this series.

"But it's easy to have plans but it takes skill and courage to execute it. I said to the boys at the start of the series that I thought they were the best attack in the world and I think they have shown that in five Test matches."

Alastair Cook's men were ambushed by man-of-the-series Mitchell Johnson in the first Brisbane Test to roll over by 381 runs, and it was downhill from there: Adelaide (218 runs), Perth (150 runs), Melbourne (eight wickets) and finally Sydney, probably the worst defeat of all.

Lethal left-armer Johnson edged veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin for man-of-the-series honors with 37 wickets, the best by an Australian bowler in a five-Test series in Australia.

Only three Australian bowlers have taken 40 wickets or more in an Ashes series - Terry Alderman (twice), Rodney Hogg and Shane Warne.

Australia smashed 10 centuries to England's one, scored by Ben Stokes (120) in Perth, and home batsmen were the top six scorers ahead of England's Kevin Pietersen (with just 294 at 29.40).

Johnson, and Sydney man-of-the-match Ryan Harris (22), were the top two series wicket-takers ahead of England's Stuart Broad (21).

England had six innings totals below 200 and only twice scored above 300, while Australia scored 350 or more four times.

Haddin proved England's lower-order batting nemesis, often rescuing his side after top-order collapses to finish the series with 493 runs, second only to David Warner's 523.

In doing so, the 36-year-old became the highest-scoring Australian wicketkeeper in a Test series, eclipsing the previous best of 473 by Adam Gilchrist against South Africa in 2001-02.

While some may demur over the historical strength of this Australian team of rejects and recycled players, little can be taken away by the sheer impact and discipline of the pace attack of Johnson, Harris and Peter Siddle.

Collectively they cornered three-quarters (75) of the wickets and neutralized England's star batsmen.

Australia climbed to No 3 in the ICC Test rankings, supplanting England, and now has its sights set on the No 1 rated team, South Africa, in a three-Test series in the republic next month.

"Playing away from home seems to be the hardest to get results," Clarke said.

"We are not going to win in South Africa and suddenly think we are the best team in the world. It is about consistency home and away over a long period of time."

Meanwhile, England coach Andy Flower warns more pain could be on the way for his side.

Flower said he would not identify individual players facing the chop, despite reports high-profile batsman Pietersen was under pressure.

Pietersen, who averages just more than 47 in 104 Tests, was dismissed for three and six in the final Test.

Flower said he was prepared to make tough decisions, while admitting the nightmare series was the end of an era.

Asked directly whether Pietersen would be part of England's future, Flower only said: "This will be a new start, and so it should be.

"It does feel like the end of some type of era. We might have to take a little more pain before we have sustained success again."

As well as speculation over the future of Pietersen, 31-year-old wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who was dropped for the last two Tests, could also face the axe.

 Anatomy of a whitewash

Australia captain, Michael Clarke (right), and fast bowler Peter Siddle kiss the replica Ashes urn as they celebrate winning the fifth Test and sweeping the series against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Jan 5. David Gray / Reuters

 Anatomy of a whitewash

England captain Alastair Cook reacts as he walks off the field and past the board displaying the result of the Test series against Australia at the SCG. David Gray / Reuters

(China Daily 01/08/2014 page23)