As expected, the Australians wrapped up the Ashes series by beating England by an innings and 41 runs in Perth.
Having resumed on 132-4, England were given some hope of saving the third Test when the start was delayed for a wet pitch. But the three-hour reprieve was not nearly enough as they were bundled out for 218 on a rapidly deteriorating pitch. They lost their last six wickets for 85 runs.
Leaf-blowers were used to help dry the pitch, raising concerns that they would help widen the cracks.
The state of the surface will undoubtedly be raised in the days to come, but there is no escaping the fact that England were humiliated after being 368-4 in their first innings. After that, they were never in it, losing six wickets for 35 runs before enduring a masterclass of batting from Steve Smith, who helped Australia to an insurmountable innings of 662-9 declared.
Dawid Malan attempted to hold the second innings together with a gritty 54 off 135 balls; the only score of note after James Vince was undone by ‘the ball of the century’ from Mitchell Starc. The ball pitched on middle stump, cut away sharply and swung in to take away the off stump.
Vince himself admitted: ‘I think if I face that another 20, 30 times, it would get me out every time.’
Some of the more churlish say it was helped by a crack in the pitch. Certainly, there was no doubt about the changing nature of the pitch when Josh Hazlewood bowled one just outside off to Moeen Ali: the seam hit a crack and veered off between first and second slip.
Hazlewood began the collapse by removing Jonny Bairstow in the second over of the day: the ball zipping through as it straightened and stayed low.
Ali followed, lbw to Nathan Lyon, before Malan made Hazlewood look good by swishing at a short one on the leg side. The paceman got his five-for when Craig Overton was well taken at gulley.
Australia turned up the heat with a barrage of bouncers, one of which almost took James Anderson’s head off, and it was only a matter of time that the tail fell to Pat Cummins.
Australia, having regained the Ashes that they lost to England in 2015, are now looking for a clean sweep of the five-Test series.
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