Australia cruised to an eight-wicket win over a demoralized England with more than a day to spare yesterday to claim a 4-0 series lead and stand on the cusp of an Ashes whitewash.
Led by a century from opener Chris Rogers and a 136-run stand with Shane Watson, Australia had few problems getting the required 201 runs before tea on the fourth day to seal England’s fate at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
England contributed to their own demise with two confidence-sapping dropped catches by skipper Alastair Cook early in the day to take all the steam out of the dispirited tourists. The two fielding blunders from the skipper were psychological body blows for England and evidence of batsman Kevin Pietersen’s comments on Saturday in a television interview that the tourists were “mentally fragile.”
England now face the monumental challenge of fighting off a clean-sweep of the series by Australia in the fifth and final Test, which starts in Sydney on Friday.
“I think it’s a very special win. A lot of people thought we would come here complacent and not have the same willpower to continue to play the same way as in the first three Tests,” Australia captain Michael Clarke told reporters. “For the first time in this series we found ourselves behind in the game and over the last couple of days we’ve been able to turn that around and win convincingly today, so I think the boys deserve a lot of credit.”
Playing on his home ground, veteran left-hander Rogers claimed his second Test century after scoring 110 against England in the last series earlier this year at Durham.
Rogers, 36, was out caught behind for 116 cutting Monty Panesar, with his team 31 runs short of victory. Rogers ran Mitchell Johnson close for man-of-the-match honors.
At the end, Watson was unbeaten on 83 with skipper Michael Clarke on 6 not out with Australia 231-2.
It was the best fourth-innings run chase in 51 years at the Melbourne Cricket Ground since England’s 237-3 in the 1962 to 1963 season.
While they have been on the end of heavy defeats this Test series, Sunday was a particularly dispiriting loss for England, who were well on top and led the home side by 116 with 10 wickets in hand after lunch on Saturday’s third day.
Man-of-the-match Mitchell Johnson and spinner Nathan Lyon staged a dramatic turnaround, with England bowled out for 179, leaving Australia with what became a comfortable task of scoring 231 in more than two days for victory.
It was Australia’s fourth consecutive win over England and comes four months after they lost the last series 0-3 in England.
“The bottom line is we haven’t been good enough,” Cook said. “The part of this game that makes it even more frustrating is that we got ourselves into a good place to put some pressure on Australia: 100 ahead and no wickets down in the second innings. I suppose that might be where we are as a side. We created three chances in that first half-an-hour and we didn’t take them.”
English heads dropped when Cook got his right hand to a chance in the slips after wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow failed to respond to an edge from Rogers, on 19 at the time, and then grassed a straightforward two-handed chance from David Warner (22) off Stuart Broad.
Warner scored only three more runs before he was caught behind off Ben Stokes and Australia’s first wicket came with the score at 64.
Symbolic of England’s malaise, Cook did not bring on his specialist spinner Monty Panesar until 90 minutes into the fourth day and he had little effect on stemming Australia’s flow of runs until he finally removed Rogers.
There will be selection questions ahead of the final Ashes Test for an England team in decline, with the most pressure on Panesar, Bairstow, whose technique behind the stumps was exposed, and seamer Tim Bresnan.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017