There were joyful choruses of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory as England’s heroes embarked on a lap of honour in the sunshine.
There was gentle mockery from a gleeful Gary Lineker who tweeted: “Surprised even those minnows of world cricket, Australia, couldn’t last until the first Premier League game of the season kicked off.” And there was an emotional resignation speech from the Aussie captain, Michael Clarke.
England won the fourth Test by a crushing innings and 78 runs at Trent Bridge and so regained the Ashes, triggering wild celebrations at the ground. “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t be happier,” said England captain Alastair Cook.
The victory was particularly sweet for the England team, which had gone into the series as underdogs after winning only one of its previous five Test series. However, its young players, coached by Australian Trevor Bayliss and his assistant, Paul Farbrace, displayed an aggression and vigour that stunned the visitors. After a thrilling opening victory at Cardiff, followed by a chastening 405-run defeat at Lord’s, England notched up two consecutive Test victories inside three days of play. The first, at Edgbaston, was repeated in even greater style on Saturday. On Thursday, Australia were bowled out for a pitiful 60 runs, with Stuart Broad claiming a scarcely believable eight wickets for 15 runs. With England declaring at 391, Australia only just managed to make it to day three.
However, the game was over within an hour of its restart. Ben Stokes had Mitchell Starc caught by Ian Bell at second slip for nought and Mark Wood bowled Josh Hazlewood for a duck. Wood produced another ferocious full-pitched delivery to shatter Nathan Lyon’s stumps and complete the rout.
It was a day and a series in which youth triumphed over age. For Australia, this humiliation will almost certainly end the international careers of more than half its current squad. Clarke has already announced he will retire at the conclusion of the fifth Test at the Oval this month, while Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Chris Rogers and Shaun Marsh are likely to exit as well.
By contrast, the England team has been hailed for the vigour and youth of its players. An example is provided by Joe Root. The 24-year-old Yorkshireman scored 443 in the series, with two centuries and two half-centuries, at an average of 71.79. The International Cricket Council announced that he is now the number one batsman in Test cricket, taking over from Australia’s Steve Smith, who mustered just 11 runs in both innings at Nottingham.
Broad became the top wicket-taker in the series with 21. “To get eight for 15 against Australia on my home ground, if I’d have written that script someone would have laughed at me,” he said later.
News of England’s victory also provoked widespread jubilation on the social media. Television presenter Piers Morgan, who had gleefully claimed he had as much chance of becoming pope as England had of winning the Ashes without Kevin Pietersen, later tweeted an image of himself dressed as the pontiff.
Clarke had to fight back tears after announcing he would be standing down from international cricket. “I think it’s the right time to walk away now to give Australia the time to prepare for the next Ashes series,” he said. “Now is the time for the next generation of players.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010