Four years after slumping to a final- day defeat in Adelaide, England sent Australia’s cricket team to its worst home loss since 1984 to go 1-0 up in the Ashes series.
Spin bowler Graeme Swann took three wickets and paceman James Anderson got two on the final morning as England removed Australia’s last six batsmen for 66 runs to win the second Test by an innings and 71 runs at the Adelaide Oval.
“We need to enjoy this and savor it, because it was a special victory for us, in some ways it exorcised some of the demons from four years ago here,” England captain Andrew Strauss told reporters. “It’s important that we don’t let Australia back in the series now.”
The victory, at a ground where England declared its first innings at 551-6 four years ago before losing, means one more win from the remaining three matches would be enough to retain the Ashes. England last won a series in Australia 24 years ago. The third Test starts Dec. 16 in Perth.
Australia took a 2-0 stranglehold on the 2006-07 series after England’s last-day collapse in Adelaide led to a six- wicket victory. The touring team never recovered and Ricky Ponting’s squad went on to complete only the second 5-0 sweep in the 133-year-old rivalry.
‘The good thing about last time is that we realized, no matter what sort of position you’re in here in Adelaide, don’t count your chickens,” Strauss said. “Once we got our noses in front we had to make it count.”
‘Very, Very Horrible’
In 2006, under Andrew Flintoff’s captaincy, England entered the final morning at 59-1, with a lead of 97 and a chance of victory. Flintoff’s team slumped to 129 all out.
“Four years ago was a very, very horrible dressing room to walk into,” said England batsman Kevin Pietersen, who was named man of the match after hitting a career-best 227 and taking the key wicket of Michael Clarke. “The best feeling is walking into the dressing room having won this Test.”
England will head to Perth as the bookmakers’ favorite to win the series after dominating Australia since day three of the opening match in Brisbane. The English have amassed 1,137 runs for the loss of six wickets in their past two innings.
Strauss’s team is the 4-9 favorite to win the best-of-five contest, according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill, which rates Australia a 5-1 outsider. A drawn series is a 10-3 chance.
Ponting, who led Australia to defeat in the past two Ashes series staged in the U.K., said the eight-day gap between Tests may help his players find a way to stage a comeback.
“It’s a bad loss and a week off now will do the boys the world of good just to get away and have a think about what they need to do as individual players,” the Australian skipper told reporters. “We need to win two of the next three games if we want to win the Ashes.”
Australia’s last home series defeat in Test cricket’s oldest international contest was in 1986-87, when Mike Gatting led England to a 2-1 triumph.
After dismissing Australia for 245 on day one in Adelaide and amassing 620-5 declared in reply, England bowled out the home team again for 304 before lunch on day five to secure its first innings victory on Australian soil since Gatting’s team won in Melbourne.
The defeat was Australia’s worst at home since West Indies won by an innings and 112 runs in 1984.
“Pure and simple we’ve been outplayed,” Ponting said.
England beat the mid-afternoon thunderstorm that left the Adelaide Oval covered in puddles to take the six wickets it needed after Australia resumed on 238-4.
Steven Finn removed Mike Hussey for 52 before Swann and Anderson got the next five wickets. Swann, the world’s top- ranked spin bowler, finished with 5-91 as Australia slumped to defeat in Adelaide for only the second time in 15 matches.
“We’re not going to get complacent because we know as soon as complacency sets in, it bites you,” Pietersen said. “We’ve got time to enjoy it for the next 24 hours or so, and then we’ve got to get our heads on.”
England’s first-innings total, following its 517-1 declared in Brisbane, was its second highest in Tests on Australian soil behind 636 at Sydney in 1928-29.
That came after the bowlers rattled Australia with three wickets in 11 minutes on day one after losing the toss.
“We never gave them a look in,” Strauss said. “We’ve got some great momentum and we’ve got to keep it going. We know Australia will come back at us hard, and if there’s any way back into the series, they will take it.”
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