|Fifth Ashes Test, Sydney Cricket Ground (day five of five)|
|England 346 (Root 83) & 180 (Root 58 retired ill, Cummins 4-39)|
|Australia 649-7 dec (Khawaja 171, S Marsh 156, M Marsh 101)|
|Australia won by an innings and 123 runs; won Ashes 4-0|
England’s awful Ashes ended with a huge defeat in Sydney as Australia completed a 4-0 series win.
The tourists were bowled out for 180 to lose by an innings and 123 runs on the fifth day of the final Test.
England captain Joe Root spent the morning in hospital with severe dehydration from a bout of gastroenteritis and, although he resumed his innings an hour into the day, could not carry on after lunch and retired on 58.
In his absence, England lost three wickets for 12 runs to Australia pace bowler Pat Cummins, who ended with 4-39 and 8-119.
James Anderson was the last man out, unhappy to be given caught behind off Josh Hazlewood as the series concluded in the Sydney sunshine.
The hosts have won seven of the past eight series down under and 15 of their past 20 home Tests against England.
Of the four Test victories England have managed in Australia this century, three came in the series they won in 2010-11.
By the time they return to Australia in 2021, England will have not won a Test here in more than a decade.
They will have the opportunity to regain the Ashes at home in 2019, with their next Test series coming in New Zealand in March, for which the squad is announced on Tuesday.
Root battles on
Root held England together after they were reduced to 15-2 on the fourth evening, scrapping his way to an unbeaten 42 out of 93-4.
His presence seemed England’s only hope of an unlikely escape, but he was admitted to hospital on Monday morning. He arrived at the ground before play began, but it was too late to resume his innings and Moeen Ali accompanied Jonny Bairstow to the crease.
They survived for an hour, but Moeen was lbw to Nathan Lyon and Root emerged. Although he was clearly still struggling, taking regular drinks, he reached his fifth half-century of the series.
After his symptoms returned during the break, an “exhausted” Root did not return for the afternoon session.
In his absence, England’s lower order crumbled to a ferocious spell from Cummins on a pitch that showed increasing amounts of uneven bounce.
Bairstow was lbw playing across a straight one, while Stuart Broad and Mason Crane were undone by short deliveries.
Tom Curran attacked for 23 and was supported for seven overs by Anderson, who called for a review when he was adjudged to have edged a Hazlewood short ball, only to discover that England had used their two referrals.
England struggle on and off the field
Not only have England struggled on the field, but this tour has been blighted by off-field problems that began even before the squad was named.
All-rounder Ben Stokes was arrested for his part in an altercation outside Bristol nightclub in September and has not played international cricket since.
When England arrived in Australia, Bairstow was accused of ‘headbutting’ Australia’s Cameron Bancroft, while Lions batsman Ben Duckett poured a drink over Anderson – both incidents came in the same Perth bar.
On the field, the deficiencies that have seen England go 11 away Tests away without a win were laid bare.
Their batsmen failed to make the big scores that could have put Australia under pressure, while their attack struggled to take wickets when the ball did not move.
It may be that the tour is remembered more for Stokes’ absence than anything that happened on the field, but it is hard to imagine how his presence would have altered the destination of the urn.
Australia power home
With Australia winning the series by such a large margin, it is easy to forget the questions they faced before the first Test at the Gabba in November.
There were surprise recalls for wicketkeeper Tim Paine and batsman Shaun Marsh and a debut for opener Bancroft.
Although Bancroft failed to build on his 82 in the first Test, Paine has had a solid series and Marsh has made two centuries. When batsman Peter Hanscomb struggled for form, Marsh’s brother Mitchell came in and scored two hundreds of his own.
Australia’s real strength, though, is the batting of captain Smith and their relentless bowling attack.
Smith’s three hundreds and 687 runs in the series have lifted him to second on the International Cricket Council’s all-time batting rankings, behind only the great Sir Donald Bradman.
Pace bowlers Cummins, Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc have been fit when it mattered – Starc missed the fourth Test – and, like spinner Lyon, have taken at least 20 wickets. England have not been afforded any respite.