Australia win the Ashes
Australia regain the Ashes with a 206 run victory over England in the third Test.
Warne claimed four wickets for 115 in the second innings, setting up another milestone to reach on the hallowed turf of his home ground the MCG.
The king of spin now has 699 Test wickets and when he takes the ball to bowl his first spell in the Boxing Day Test the roar will be heard across Australia.
For England, it was heartbreaking to have to return the urn after waiting 16 years to win it, only to hold the trophy for the shortest time in Ashes history.
|Pietersen was left stranded after England’s
last four wickets fell cheaply
However the 3-0 series score is perhaps not a true indication of how well England have played in parts during the series.
Almost all the tourists have performed well individually at some stage during the tour, and as a team have put together two or three sessions of brilliance, but it has been their inability to sustain the pressure on the Australians that has led to their downfall.
The captain’s role has also been a problem for Flintoff, as for all his greatness with bat and ball, the extra responsibility and expectation placed upon him has tainted his game.
With the captaincy comes media commitments, team selection, and closer scrutiny on Flintoff’s own game, not to mention opening the bowling, trying to steady his team’s innings with the bat when the top order has collapsed, and setting fields when constantly under pressure.
Early in the day Flintoff showed some much needed fight, and along with Kevin Pietersen put the thoughts of an improbable England victory in the minds of those watching the tense match.
The England captain decided to hit himself into form and struck 51 off 67 deliveries including three fours in a row off Stuart Clark and a huge six off Brett Lee, before being deceived by Warne to be bowled out.
Pietersen was left stranded on 60 after Jones (0), Mahmood (4), Harmison (0) and Panesar (1), were all dismissed cheaply, with Jones going in the strangest of circumstances.
Facing Warne and batting out of his crease, Jones went forward to sweep but mistimed his shot to be struck on the back leg by a turning delivery.
As the Aussies appealed for LBW, a quick thinking Ricky Ponting under-armed the ball on to the stumps with Jones still out of his ground, to have him run out, giving him a pair of ducks for the match.
Indeed, Jones may now be sacrificed for replacement keeper Chris Read for the rest of the series.
The fourth and fifth Tests in Melbourne and Sydney may now be academic, however the home side will be looking to score a 5-0 series whitewash, a feat that has not been performed since Australia swept England at home in 1920-21.
England now have nothing to lose, and with the pressure effectively off and nothing but pride on the line, the last two matches of the series should still be great spectacles.