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England's Ashes reckoning has come swiftly after the Australian bowling attack completed their demolition job on the visitors to wrap up the series on day three of the Boxing Day Test.
Australia retained the Ashes 3-0 after winning the third Test by an innings and 14 runs before lunch on Tuesday, thanks to fearsome bowling spells from Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc.
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Sent in to start their second innings facing a near-new ball and trailing by just 82 runs late on day two, the visitors weren't able to get through the final session without the loss of a wicket.
Opener Haseeb Hamid, first drop Dawid Malan and night watchman Jack Leach all failed to make it to stumps, with England starting day three precariously placed at 4-31.
When Starc clean bowled Ben Stokes early on day three with a nearly unplayable delivery it appeared as though the writing was on the wall.
Boland and Starc proceeded to make short work of the England lineup, with the visitors losing 6-37 in a swift morning collapse.
After two less than stellar performances in Brisbane and Adelaide to start the series, former England great Michael Vaughan pulled no punches after the Boxing Day Test thumping.
“England - they’ve got some big problems. That was embarrassing,” he said.
“They’re a group of players that pride themselves on competing and they’ve just not managed to find any kind of consistency or skill.
“They’ve not been able to manage this powerhouse of a team. The juggernaut started in Brisbane and they’ve not been able to stop the Australian juggernaut.”
England spent more days in isolation to enter Australia than it took them to lose the #ashes
— Isabelle Westbury (@izzywestbury) December 28, 2021
England players had to spend 14 days isolating to enter Australia.....
They lost the #Ashes in 12 days 😂
— JAKE BUCKLEY 🇦🇺 (@TheMasterBucks) December 28, 2021
After today’s humiliation in Melbourne, the need to hold people accountable is paramount. The ECB may not care about Test cricket, but cricket lovers do. Ps congrats to Pat Cummins and the Australian team for a professional performance compared to England’s amateur hour #Ashes https://t.co/jVvdijRA0F
— Lionel Barber (@lionelbarber) December 28, 2021
This England batting lineup is so poor, I could probably stand a chance of getting into the middle order. Australian bowlers finished the test match before I could even wake up this morning and switch on the TV 😅 No competition = no fun #Ashes
— Viren Rasquinha (@virenrasquinha) December 28, 2021
For the last two days a Covid-19 outbreak among the travelling party has been a distraction for the visitors, but Vaughan was of the belief the general trend throughout the Ashes was damning for English cricket.
He suggested English cricket officials had been too focused on the shorter versions of the game at the expense of the Test side.
"It’s not been easy in these times, the England side haven’t had a great deal of preparation, but if you want to look for excuses you can, you can always find excuses - this Test match team for quite a while has not been good enough,” he said.
“They’ve not been focused enough on the Test match team, the focus has been on the white ball team and it delivered a world cup, but we’re not a good enough cricketing nation to take our eye off the ball of Test match cricket. We can’t just arrive and play."
Dominant Australia retain the Ashes at MCG
Befitting their calamitous tour, England's resistance lasted just 80 minutes on Tuesday morning as they lost their last six wickets for 22 runs to be all out for 68.
Boland claimed outstanding figures of 6-7 on Test debut, with his five-wicket haul off 19 balls the equal-fastest in Test history.
It marks the third straight Ashes where Australia have claimed the Ashes, after winning in 2017-18 and drawing the series in England in 2019 to keep the urn.
It is also the eighth time in the past nine series in Australia that the series has been wrapped up after three Tests.
But never has England's capitulation been as brutal as it was in Melbourne this week.
Australia's triumph allowed them wrap up the Test in 180.4 overs, the shortest Test match on home home soil in the past 71 years.
In turn, it is the quickest of any team to seal the urn Down Under in Ashes history.
The Ashes triumph comes just over a month after Tim Paine's resignation as captain and subsequent withdrawal from the series.
Under-pressure to hold his spot amid criticism, Mitchell Starc was frequently the man to break England's back.
He led the way in England's second innings, getting Zak Crawley and Dawid Malan with back-to-back balls on the second evening before bowling Ben Stokes for 11 early on day three.
Crucially, he also found a way to lead Australia's attack in a summer where Josh Hazlewood has missed two Tests through injury and Pat Cummins one through a COVID-19 scare.
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