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

Australia complete 5-0 Ashes sweep

The Report by Brydon Coverdale
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Australia 326 (Smith 115, Haddin 75, Stokes 6-99) and 276 (Rogers 119, Borthwick 3-33) beat England 155 (Stokes 47, Siddle 3-23, Johnson 3-33, Harris 3-36) and 166 (Carberry 43, Harris 5-25, Johnson 3-40) by 281 runs
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A dejected Alastair Cook leads his team around the outfield © Getty Images
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Michael Clarke was asked at the toss if he knew which two captains had led Australia to 5-0 Ashes clean sweeps. Yes, Warwick Armstrong and Ricky Ponting, he replied. Now there are three. Fittingly, it all ended in Clarke's hands. England's No.11, Boyd Rankin, edged Ryan Harris to second slip, where Clarke thrust his arms and clung on to a catch above his head. With it, he sealed a 281-run victory, a 5-0 result and his legacy as leader. His team not only beat England, they annihilated them.

The celebrations were intense and immediate; Nathan Lyon led the team in their victory song, Underneath the Southern Cross, on the pitch barely minutes after the win was complete. The same 11 who started on the first morning at the Gabba had carried Australia right through the campaign. Remarkably, they completed their sweep in only 21 days of cricket; it took Ponting's legendary outfit 22 days in 2006-07 and Armstrong's squad 24 days back in 1920-21.

For Alastair Cook, the series result was devastating. That it ended with a three-day defeat after he won the toss and sent Australia in must have been especially galling. But that England collapsed for 166 in their final innings of the series was not exactly surprising. Their batting failed throughout the tour and again they were unable to handle Man of the Series Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Co. Seven wickets in 52 minutes after the tea break and it was all over.

Set 448 for victory after Chris Rogers completed his third Test century in the morning, England needed a world-record effort to avoid defeat. It was not the kind of history they were capable of making. Cook prodded outside off to a fast ball from Johnson that moved away and was caught behind for 7, Ian Bell steered a late cut to gully off Harris for 16 and Kevin Pietersen's inside edge onto pad off Harris was smartly snapped up by George Bailey, backpedalling from short leg.

They were 3 for 87 at tea. Bill Lawry wasn't there to tell viewers it was all happening, but after the resumption it was, indeed, all happening. Johnson began the session with two wickets in an over, Michael Carberry caught behind for 43 flashing outside off and then Gary Ballance lbw for 7. Lyon followed with two wickets in the next over, Jonny Bairstow taken at short leg for a duck and Scott Borthwick brilliantly snapped up at slip by Clarke.

A few boundaries from Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad followed, but none of that mattered. It was only a matter of time until the wickets fell. Stokes played on to Harris for 32, Broad was also bowled by Harris for 42 and then Harris completed his five-wicket haul by drawing the winning edge from Rankin. England were all out for 166, the sixth time from their ten innings in this campaign that they had failed to reach 200.

And that was the difference. Perhaps the most memorable moment of England's innings came when Carberry's bat snapped in half when he played a regulation forward defence to a delivery from Harris. Everyone on the ground saw the funny side but the image of a broken bat encapsulated England's campaign. Australia's batsmen scored ten centuries throughout the series; Stokes was the only England batsman to make one, or to average over 30.

Earlier in the day, Rogers made his second century in consecutive Tests as Australia built their lead and were dismissed for 276. Rogers and George Bailey both ticked the scoreboard over during their 109-run partnership. Rogers reached his century from the last ball before drinks in the first session with a late cut for four off the part-time spin of Pietersen, but it was Bailey who really needed a big score in order to retain his place for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

At times Bailey still looked vulnerable outside off but it was the short ball that brought his downfall on 46. Bailey went for a hook off Broad and was caught by Borthwick running around to deep square leg, and it left Bailey with an average of 26.14 from his five Tests and an uncertain future.

The crowd enjoyed a little cameo from Brad Haddin, who made a quick 28, and in doing so broke the record for the most runs in a Test series by an Australian wicketkeeper, surpassing the 473 that Adam Gilchrist made in South Africa in 2001-02. Rogers was eventually out for 119, one of three wickets for Borthwick, and the tail-enders enjoyed some late hitting. Australia's innings ended with Rankin taking his first Test wicket. It may be his only good memory of the Test.

The match ended off Rankin's bat, and with the ball in the hands of Clarke. Australia nominally had the urn after the Perth Test, but now they had a 5-0 clean sweep. They also rocketed up from fifth to third on the ICC Test rankings. A challenge against the No.1 team in South Africa awaits, but for now they will celebrate a feat that only two other Australian sides have ever achieved.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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