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  • Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 5th day

Australia regain the Ashes as England crumble

The Report by Daniel Brettig
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Australia 385 (Smith 111, Warner 60, Haddin 55) and 369 for 6 dec (Warner 112, Watson, Rogers 54) beat England 251 (Cook 72) and 332 for 6 (Stokes 120, Bell 60, Johnson 4-78) by 150 runs
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Australia dominated the series to regain the Ashes © Getty Images
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As the Barmy Army sang mournfully of their desire to go home, Australia completed a pounding of England in Perth to regain the Ashes lost in 2009. Mitchell Johnson was a fitting taker of the last wicket, a short ball to James Anderson an equally fitting manner in which to take it. England have been bullied and battered from the second afternoon in Brisbane when Johnson blew the touring middle order away.

In all it has taken only 14 days for Australia to end four years of torment. Of the current team only Michael Clarke had experienced an Ashes victory before. The overwhelming margin of victory was the culmination of a campaign that began in England earlier this year, a series loss away from home used to gather intelligence on England and generate confidence within a team rejuvenated by the appointment of the new coach, Darren Lehmann.

There were tears among Australia's players at the WACA Ground after a morning on which they were made to wait by the admirable Ben Stokes, who sculpted a maiden century on a pitch that had become patchworked with deep and wide cracks. Johnson's dismissal of Matt Prior opened up one end, then Nathan Lyon defeated Stokes after lunch to begin the final drive to victory. Johnson's wickets gave him 23 for the series so far, a major marker of the gap between the teams.

Stokes and Matt Prior had begun with the target of getting through to the second new ball, something England's middle order had failed to do on the third morning. They managed this despite the odd ball deviating dramatically off the pitch's widening cracks, as Stokes crept closer to a century.

Australian nerves were evident in the fidgets of the fielders, while Ryan Harris' brow furrowed more deeply with every ball to beat the bat. Stokes was unperturbed by it all, mounting his tally steadily as Michael Clarke called for a fresh missile to hand to his bowlers. Prior flicked a pair of leg-side boundaries, the second of which drawing a huge divot in watered turf as Johnson dived. He got up with a muddy trouser leg but no sign of injury.

The stand was worth 76 and more than an hour had been negotiated when Johnson homed in on Prior. A few balls had reared up at the wicketkeeper's ribs, and eventually he lost composure, swishing at a ball angling across him and edging through to Brad Haddin. Australian celebrations indicated as much relief as joy.

But Stokes was far from finished. A pair of pull shots for two from Johnson took him to the cusp of a century, then a glove down the leg side scuttled to the fine-leg boundary for his hundred. England's first of the series was also only the third by an Englishman in Perth since 1987 - Graham Thorpe and Alastair Cook the other two. Stokes raised his bat proudly, then rounded off the session by twice clattering Lyon down the ground.

Following a nervous lunch, Australia resumed their quest for the final wickets. Clarke persisted with Lyon, and had rich reward when Stokes attempted to sweep. A thin bottom edge was the result and Haddin did wonderfully to stay low with the ball and claim the catch. Instantly any tension among the hosts was relieved.

In Lyon's next over Graeme Swann completed a forgettable match by squeezing a catch to short leg. The edge was so apparent and the ball's parabola so gentle that Billy Bowden appeared to raise his finger before the ball settled into Steven Smith's hands. The end was coming quickly now, and a well disguised Johnson slower ball resulted in a checked Tim Bresnan drive and a brilliant catch at mid-off by Chris Rogers.

Stuart Broad batted bravely despite his badly bruised foot but it was merely a token gesture. Anderson soon fended Johnson to short leg and Australia rejoiced.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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