With Ashes back, Aussies go for sweep

Left: Australian players celebrate regaining the Ashes after winning the third Test in Perth - the final Ashes Test to be played at the Waca Ground in Perth. Below: The writing is on the wall when England's Jonny Bairstow is bowled for 14 with the ve
Australian players celebrate regaining the Ashes after winning the third Test in Perth - the final Ashes Test to be played at the Waca Ground in Perth. PHOTO: REUTERS

Star batsman Smith and team confirm dominance as critics blast weak England side

PERTH • Steve Smith praised his "exceptional" team as Australia reclaimed the Ashes with an innings win over England in the third Test in Perth yesterday, and set his sights on a series whitewash.

Australia dismissed England for 218 in their second innings after rain delays and a pitch controversy on the final day in Perth to win back the urn.

That gave the home side an innings-and-41-run win and an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, having won the opening two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide.

"It's been an amazing couple of weeks," said Smith.

"What the boys have delivered has been exceptional.

"England have had their foot in the door in a couple of games and we've been able to claw our way back to get back in the game, and then keep the foot on the throat."

Having confirmed his status as the world's best batsman with a match-winning double century, Smith added victorious Ashes captain to his ever-expanding resume.

The writing is on the wall when England’s Jonny Bairstow is bowled for 14 with the very first ball, by Australia’s Josh Hazlewood upon the delayed start of day five. PHOTO: EPA–EFE

His CV also includes a role in the 5-0 whitewash of England on their last tour to Australia, and Smith said his team would now seek to repeat that achievement ahead of Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

"It'd be fantastic to do that and we'll talk about Melbourne when we get there," he said. "Right now, I'm just really satisfied with what we've achieved in these first three Test matches."

Wickets tumbled quickly for England upon the delayed resumption in the last Ashes Test to be played at the Waca Ground, with Jonny Bairstow bowled for 14 by the first delivery he faced for the day from Josh Hazlewood, which kept low.

Hazlewood also removed England's last hope Dawid Malan - who backed up his first innings century with a fighting 54 before being caught behind - to finish with figures of 5-48.

England captain Joe Root said the gap between the sides was not as stark as the scoreline suggested.

And he refused to blame his senior players for the defeat as criticism flowed in, instead lamenting his own failures to lead the way with the bat.

Former England spinner Graeme Swann claimed that the likes of Root, averaging 29.33 for the series, and Alastair Cook have done "next to nothing".

Former skipper Cook has scored only 83 runs in the series at an average of 13.83, the worst of England's specialist batsmen.

"The senior guys who you expect to stand up and outshine the rookies have done the exact opposite," Swann told the BBC. "The shining lights have been Rocky (Mark) Stoneman and Dawid Malan."

Veteran seamer Stuart Broad went wicketless for 142 runs as Australia racked up a mammoth 662 for 9 declared, his worst Test bowling figures. For his part, Moeen Ali managed only three wickets for the series at a miserable 105.33 apiece.

Root, appointed captain only in February, backed Broad and Cook to still be playing for England in 12 months' time.

"I'd like to think so," the 26-year-old, who battled other off-field distractions and accusations of a problem drinking culture in the England camp, told reporters.

"They've got huge amounts of experience... and their performances over a long period of time speak for themselves.

"It's important we don't panic and make hasty decisions after three games."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2017, with the headline 'With Ashes back, Aussies go for sweep'. Print Edition | Subscribe