Australia score innings and 46- run victory in fifth Ashes Test
Australia defeated England by an innings and 46 runs yesterday in the fifth and final Ashes Test for a consolation victory at The Oval.
Resuming the fourth day on 203-6, England were all out for 286 in 101.4 overs. Jos Buttler went for 42, driving Mitchell Marsh to Mitchell Starc at mid-off, and Moeen Ali was out for 35.
Peter Siddle claimed 4-35 on a rain-hit day as Australia won with more than a day to spare.
England had an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the series, having regained the urn by winning the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.
But Australia will take some comfort in losing 3-2, rather than 4-1, in captain Michael Clarke's last Test.
The fifth Test took on a familiar pattern with the side which gained the first significant advantage going on to win. None of the five Tests lasted their full five days in a series full of batting collapses.
At The Oval, England never looked in the match after Australia's first innings of 481 - with Steven Smith scoring 143 - and Clarke enforced his first follow-on as captain after England's first-innings 149.
The hosts lost their last four second-innings wickets for 83 runs yesterday either side of a two-hour rain break.
Siddle made the first breakthrough of an increasingly overcast day, under floodlights in his second over with the second new ball. He beat Mark Wood's forward prod and overturned an initial not-out lbw decision on review.
Buttler had worked hard the previous evening, alongside England captain Alastair Cook, to regain form in the attempted rearguard. But he gave it all away disappointingly, eight short of his 50, to the 107th ball he faced when he chipped Marsh on the up to a tumbling mid-off.
Ali and Stuart Broad then batted for 10 overs together - long enough for the forecast rain to arrive and delay the inevitable. But Broad lasted only five more minutes, on the resumption, bowled off-stump after missing a drive at the admirable Siddle.
The last act of an oddly uneven series then came when Ali wafted an edge behind off the same bowler.
Victory for the hosts would have been the first time the English had ever won four Tests in a five-match Ashes series in England. However, England will still be delighted to win a series it was widely expected to lose and claimed their fourth successive home series victory over Australia.
"We had a Test match to try and win, but maybe we underestimated the emotional highs from Trent Bridge and how hard it would be to get back up to that level you really need to beat Australia," Cook said. "Of course, we'd love to be sitting here at 4-1 rather than 3-2 ... It's a little bit disappointing, but I'm not going to worry about it too much tonight."
England's vice captain Joe Root was named Man of the Series with 460 runs.
Under its new Australian coach Trevor Bayliss, the series result takes England up to third in the world rankings, just behind Australia with South Africa at the top. England has a series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, followed by a tour of South Africa in the winter coming up.
As well as Clarke, who played his 115th test match, 37-year-old opener Chris Rogers is also quitting the international game for Australia. There is a sense this is the last series for the current generation - including Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Adam Voges - before a new era begins in Australia test cricket under Smith, the newly appointed captain.
Clarke, who has now been on the losing side in all four of his Ashes tours, said the team was "full of talent".
"There's going to be opportunity for a few of the (young) batters, but I'd still like to see a few of the old heads stick around," he said. "I've always believed the best teams have a mix of youth and experience and I think we can still have that in this Australian team."
Clarke also suggested the wickets could be improved.
"I'd like to see groundsmen around the world - not just here - have the courage to go with what they think is a good cricket wicket," said Clarke. "I want to see good and fair cricket for both batters and bowlers."
Cook, understandably, took a different view.
"The wickets are the same for both sides - in three out of the five test matches we played better than Australia," said Cook. "That's why we've won the Ashes."