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Millennium Post

Return of Oz supremacy

Michael Clarke, Darren Lehmann and the Australia squad linked arms and sang their team songs on the WACA pitch a few hours after regaining the Ashes with a series-clinching third Test win.The flinty glares and the abrasive demeanor gave way to laughing, rejoicing, tears and, of course for the Aussie team, beers. (Darren Lehman behind Australia’s Ashes turnaround)

The turnaround from a 3-0 series loss in England in August to a 3-0 win with two matches to spare here has been remarkable. The comprehensive manner of those wins, by 381, 218 and 150 runs, has stunned an England team that had won the previous three Ashes series and hadn’t lost a Test in 12 months before arriving in Australia. Clarke attributed it to hard work. Some local critics suggested some of Australia’s motivation stemmed from England’s celebrations of the August win, when some of the players were seen urinating on the pitch after the victory at The Oval.

The triumph was given prominent coverage, with the Sydney Daily Telegraph screaming ‘No mercy for the dismal Poms’ while lavishing praise on Michael Clarke. Cricket writer Malcolm Conn called it the skipper’s finest hour. ‘To pick up a cobbled-together side from the wreckage of poor Indian and England tours and reclaim the Ashes in such emphatic fashion is one of the great achievements in Australian cricket,’ he said, after the home side took an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the series.

For the home team, Mitchell Johnson (23 wkts at 15.47) was undoubtedly the stand out performer while Ryan Harris (12 wkts at 23.58) and Peter Siddle (11 wkts at 22.09) too gave him great support from both ends. The three have quickly become a cohesive unit, with strengths and weaknesses that perfectly complement one and other. Undoubtedly, the reinvigoration of Johnson has only been made possible by the security and consitency of Harris and Siddle at the other end.
Johnson wasn’t considered to be in good enough form for the last Ashes tour, when England completed a 3-0 win at their home turf in August this year. But back on Australian soil, he terrorized the England batsmen, taking 23 wickets to help Australia secure its most coveted prize with two matches to spare. Australia came to the WACA ground needing just one win from the last three tests to secure the Ashes for the first time since their 5-0 series sweep in 2006-07.

‘Boof’ Lehmann behind turnaround

Australia’s dramatic turnaround to dominate England and win back the Ashes just months after a 3-0 series defeat to their traditional rivals has largely been attributed to the man they call ‘Boof’. Darren Lehmann has been the instigator of a reinvigoration of Australian cricket in just six months, since stepping into the hot seat vacated by the sudden sacking of Mickey Arthur. The 43-year-old, who played 27 Tests from 1998 to 2004, has always been credited with a razor-sharp cricket mind.

He saw enough during the July-August series in England to detect weaknesses in the England batsmen which he sought to exploit in the back-to-back series. Lehmann raised eyebrows when he observed towards the back-end of the last series: ‘We’ve shown some cracks in their batting which is exciting for us as a bowling unit. Has the momentum shifted? I think it has but only time will tell.’ They were to prove prescient words as Lehmann got down to work devising plans for each English batsman. These were implemented to devastating effect by Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle. Australia stymied skipper Alastair Cook’s scoring shots on the leg side, while Kevin Pietersen was forced into errors by the nagging consistency of Siddle.

No more warning, show time


David Warner leapfrogged the England duo Ian Bell and Alastair Cook up to 11th place in the new ICC Test rankings for batsmen after helping Australia to reclaim the Ashes in Perth. Warner followed up his first-innings 60 with 112 at the Waca to leave him as the leading runscorer in the series, which helped him move up three places in the rankings, as Bell and Cook, the highest-placed England players, each slipped one place to 12th and 14th, respectively. However, Kevin Pietersen climbed one place to 15th, Michael Carberry was up 17 spots to 83rd, while Ben Stokes soared to 73rd place – a rise of 81 places – after his first Test century in the Perth defeat. The same players occupy the top 10 of the rankings, with the South Africa duo A B de Villiers and Hashim Amla leading the way ahead of Australia’s Michael Clarke.

Mitchell magic Johnson sizzles


Mitchell Johnson (23 wickets at 15.47), Ryan Harris (12 wickets at 23.58) and Peter Siddle (11 wickets at 22.09) have each had their turn to stand up and be counted, and the three have quickly become a cohesive unit, with strengths and weaknesses that perfectly complement one and other. Undoubtedly, the reinvigoration of Johnson has only been made possible by the security and consitency of Harris and Siddle at the other end. This is Siddle’s fourth Ashes series, and the Victorian believes that the pain of three series losses has made the taste of victory that little bit sweeter. Johnson’s batting average of 49 for the Ashes series places him above all the England players, and fourth among the Australians. If you throw in the fact he’s bowled at terrifying speeds of over 150 km/h and claimed 23 wickets at 15.47, you start to get the picture of how much the 32-year-old has dominated the series so far. The Barmy Army took great joy in poking fun at the wayward left-armer during the 2009 Ashes series. And again in 2010/11. But how the tables were turned at Perth last Thursday.

2009: England win test in Lord’s since 1934

The 2009 series began with a tense draw in the first Test in Cardiff with England’s last-wicket batsmen James Anderson and Monty Panesar surviving 69 balls. England then achieved its first Ashes win at Lord’s since 1934 to go 1–0 up. After a rain-affected draw at Edgbaston, the fourth match at Headingley was convincingly won by Australia by an innings and 80 runs to level the series. Finally, England won the fifth Test at The Oval by a margin of 197 runs to regain the Ashes. Andrew Flintoff retired from Test cricket soon after the series.

2011: England win first series in Australia in 24 years


This was the only Ashes series in which a team won three Tests by innings margins. It was also the first time England scored 500 or more four times in a single Ashes series. The first Test at Brisbane ended in a draw but England won the second by an innings and 71 runs. Australia came back with a victory at Perth in the third Test. In the fourth match at MCG, England, beat Australia by an innings and 157 runs to take an unassailable 2-1 lead. England won the series 3-1 by winning the fifth Test in Sydney by an innings and 83 runs. Batting second, England scored 644, their highest innings total since 1938. Aus were bundled out for an identical 281 in both innings. England’s series victory was its first on Australian soil in 24 years.

2013: England win first series in Australia in 24 years

An inspired spell of fast bowling from Stuart Broad guided England to a 74-run win in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street which sealed the home side’s third straight series triumph. Chasing 299 for victory, Australia were well placed on 168-2 but lost their next eight wickets for 56 runs as they collapsed to 224 all out. Stuart Broad inflicted on Australia in 45 balls at Chester-le-Street when he took six for 20. One minute David Warner was set to land a bigger blow on England than he did on Joe Root, the next he and the top order were back in the coop, their hopes of chasing 299 for victory highly realistic at 168 for two, crushed by an irresistible spell of fast bowling
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