Aussies set sights on an Ashes whitewash
CRICKET: Australian captain Michael Clarke said there would be no let-up in the hunt for a 5-0 series win after his side regained the Ashes by taking the third Test at the WACA by 150 runs yesterday.
Australia had not held the urn since August 23, 2009 but recaptured the precious trophy in style after bowling out England in its second innings for 353 mid-afternoon on the final day in Perth.
It was quite fitting that England's destroyer-in-chief Mitchell Johnson captured the final wicket of James Anderson, caught at short leg by George Bailey for two, to end four years of England Ashes dominance and give Johnson 4-78 in the tourists' second innings.
England, and in particular 22-year-old all-rounder Ben Stokes, showed some resilience on the final day to send a few nerves through the Australian camp, but when he bottom-edged a sweep shot to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin off Nathan Lyon for 120 it looked as if the end was nigh.
The left-hander batted for four and a quarter hours on a pitch which resembled crazy paving to try and stave off the inevitable, but once his vigil ended England's tail could not wag once more and the Ashes were back in Aussie hands not long after.
Stokes' ton was the first by an Englishman on this tour and the first since Ian Bell's hundred at Durham back in August.
Clarke was obviously delighted to have won back the Ashes but said there would be no relaxing for the Australian team as the series now heads for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne before finishing in Sydney in the New Year.
The skipper was part of the 5-0 whitewash in 2006/07 and said he would love the same result this time round, although he predicted it would be tough against an English team whose pride had been well and truly dented.
"That would be gold," Clarke said when asked if he wanted to win the series 5-0. "We want to get back to No.1 in the world and a 5-0 win over England would certainly help that.
"But I expect plenty of fight from England. They will not want to lose in Melbourne and Sydney and there will be a lot of hard work ahead.
"We will have a beer or two tonight, the boys deserve that but we want to win the last two Tests."
Clarke was full of praise for all his players but singled out Johnson after six more wickets in this Test match - and 23 for the series so far.
"I said before the series started that if Mitch bowled as well as we know he can then he could get man of the series and I don't think he's far off now," he said.
England began the day on 5-251 and only lost the wicket of Matt Prior before lunch for another poor shot when he wafted at a wide Johnson delivery to edge to Haddin.
Tim Bresnan stayed with Stokes until lunch and looked fairly comfortable other than when the ball hit one of the many cracks on the wearing wicket.
But Lyon managed to get the breakthrough Australia needed with Stokes' wicket and England's resistance did not last long after that.
The final four wickets fell in the space of 7.2 overs and just 35 minutes after the lunch break and the Australian celebrations that began at 1.45pm (Perth time) will continue long into the summer.