Australia sent captain Michael Clarke into international retirement with an innings and 46-run victory in the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval on Sunday.
When Peter Siddle had Moeen Ali (35) caught behind, England, following-on, had been dismissed for 286 in their second innings. This was Australia’s first victory at The Oval after 14 long years.
Siddle, playing after Josh Hazlewood was injured, bowled with both pace and control on his way to innings figures of four for 35 in 24.4 overs, which included 12 maidens.
His return made the experienced seamer’s omission from the previous four Tests all the more surprising.
Even so England, who had already regained the Ashes, won the series 3-2 with Clarke the first Australian in more than a century to be on the losing side in four successive Ashes series in Britain.
Australia’s victory on Sunday meant none of the Tests in this Ashes had gone to a fifth day, a testament to the general lack of batting resilience in both sides.
This series equalled the fewest days in a Test series of five or more matches of five or more scheduled days each of 18 that took place when England faced the West Indies in 2000.
Australia, after losing the toss at The Oval, piled up 481.
This included Steven Smith’s 143 — an innings which saw him become the first Australian to score more than 500 runs in an Ashes series in England since Matthew Elliott in 1997.
– Buttler blow –
At The Oval, several England batsmen contributed to their own dismissal with poor strokes as the recalled pair of Siddle and Mitchell Marsh both took wickets in a meagre total of 149 all out.
Play resumed Sunday beneath grey skies and it was not long before the floodlights were switched on. The question was could England hold on long enough for the forecast bad weather to help them in their quest for a draw.
England started Sunday on 203 for six, still 129 runs behind, having suffered the blow of losing captain Alastair Cook late on Saturday for 85 after his marathon innings of more than five-and-a-half hours was ended when the left-handed opener fell to part-time leg-spinner Smith.
Jos Buttler was 33 not out and nightwatchman Mark Wood nought not out.
Australia took the new ball and soon had a breakthrough when Siddle, playing his first match of this series, had Wood lbw for six — although it needed a review of umpire Kumar Dharmasena’s initial decision to confirm the dismissal.
England’s 221 for seven was soon transformed into 223 for eight after Buttler, on 42, tamely chipped all-rounder Marsh low to Mitchell Starc at mid-off.
The wicket-keeper batted for just short of two-and-a-half hours, facing 107 balls with four fours for his highest score of a poor series with the bat.
Rain halted play for more than two hours but merely delayed Australia’s victory.
Five minutes after play re-started, Siddle bowled Broad (11) and then dismissed Ali to ensure Australia opener Chris Rogers, also retiring after this match, ended his Test career on a winning note as well.