Australia’s seamers, sparked by an electric Cameron Green spell, ran through England to win the fifth and final Test in Hobart by 146 runs inside three days and seal the Ashes 4-0.
Despite Mark Wood’s best efforts to keep his side in the contest with a six-wicket haul that contained England’s target to 271, the tourist were found sorely wanting as they lost 10 wickets for 56 runs in 22.5 overs.
Rory Burns and Zak Crawley started the chase brightly enough, but once Green dismissed Burns on the stroke of tea, they collapsed to be all out for 124. Green finished with 3 for 21, while Scott Boland and Pat Cummins also took three wickets apiece in a dominant display by Australia.
Wood did everything in his power to give England a chance with a relentless short-ball barrage that began with a vicious bouncer that removed Usman Khawaja, caught behind off the glove as he took evasive action late on the second evening, and which yielded five more wickets on Sunday to give him career-best figures of 6 for 37 as Australia were bundled out in their second innings for 155.
That it fell to England’s brittle batting line-up to finish the job was beyond his control, although in keeping the target under the 300-mark which the tourists had failed to reach all series he gave a glimmer of hope. That their failure to even threaten came as no surprise at all rammed home the running theme of this Ashes.
In truth, Wood had switched to a short-ball tactic earlier, after tea on the opening day, to snatch three first-innings wickets after toiling long and hard for no reward. His effort all series has been beyond question but so too has the feeling that he deserved a greater return. He finally got it.
Going into this match, Wood had taken eight wickets at 37.62, but after his stellar display in Hobart he increased his haul to 17 at an average of 26.64.
Wood’s extra pace and bounce did for nightwatchman Boland, who feathered a catch to wicketkeeper Sam Billings and first-innings centurion Travis Head, caught down the leg side. When he sucked Steve Smith into a hook which careered off the top edge to Dawid Malan at long leg, Wood had removed yet another dangerous Australian batter.
Stuart Broad re-entered the attack with immediate effect, removing Green lbw on review for 23 before Wood sealed his five-wicket haul with the scalp of Mitchell Starc, caught by Ollie Pope at short leg. Wood almost had two in two when his next ball – a swift yorker – struck Cummins on the boot to be given out lbw, but Cummins had the decision overturned with replays showing the ball was missing off stump.
Adding to the drama on a pulsating day, Alex Carey was the beneficiary of two technology-led decisions that saw him reprieved on 19 and 30. On the first occasion, Carey dragged a Chris Woakes delivery onto his stumps and began making his way off the field only to return when it was deemed that Woakes had over-stepped with replays showing no definitive images of any part of his foot behind the line. Carey then had an lbw decision off Broad overturned when the DRS confirmed that the ball had pitched outside leg stump.
Carey went on to top-score for the innings, falling one run shy of his fifty when Broad had him caught behind. Wood then claimed his sixth, with a length ball that was bang on target as Cummins played and missed.
Burns was back in the side for the first time since he was dropped after the second Test in Adelaide, sporting an untethered hairstyle as he and Crawley played with some freedom to take England to 68 without loss at more than four runs an over.
It was the highest opening stand by either side in the series but when Green had Burns out chopping on to a delivery that angled in from around the wicket on what turned out to be the last ball before tea, there was danger in the air.
With Crawley looking in decent touch and the likes of Malan, Joe Root and Ben Stokes to come, there should have been more cause for optimism but England’s performances throughout their tour of Australia had long ago curbed any enthusiasm for their chances.
Struck a nasty blow to the side of the helmet from Green, Malan lasted 13 more deliveries before he edged on to his stumps and when Green removed Crawley, edging behind to Carey with the second ball of his next over, he had figures of 3 for 17 from 4.2 overs.
Stokes fell hooking a Starc short ball to deep square leg, where Nathan Lyon took a strong catch running in from the boundary, and when Root copped an unplayable delivery from Boland – who was excellent again in just his third Test – that kept low and crashed into off stump, an England procession looked inevitable. And so it proved, with Cummins dismissing Ollie Pope, Wood and last man Ollie Robinson to finish as the leading wicket-taker for the series with 21 at an average of 18.04. Boland was third-highest behind Starc with 18 at 9.55.