Chris Rogers scored a confident 116 to steer Australia to an eight-wicket win with a day to spare in the fourth test on Sunday as the hosts moved within one victory of an Ashes series sweep.
Australia resumed day four at 30 without loss chasing 231 for victory,and progressed to 64 before David Warner (25) was caught behind off Ben Stokes.
Rogers then combined with Shane Watson in a second-wicket partnership of 136 to aggressively chase down the target before he was caught behind trying to cut Monty Panesar through the off side,ending a 155-ball innings that contained 13 boundaries.
Watson was unbeaten on 83 at the end,with Michael Clarke adding 6 passing 8,000 career test runs in the process to help the Australians to 231-2.
I think it’s a very special win for a number of reasons, Clarke said. The fact that 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.
But also 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, he said.
The 36-year-old Rogers produced the innings of his 10-test career to claim only his second Test century,and his first century on home soil. He reached the milestone by driving Jimmy Anderson for four through cover and raised his bat to the resounding applause of the 38,522 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It doesn’t get better than this,Rogers said. To win a Boxing Day test and to get a hundred on the last day,it’s what dreams are made of.
Watson reached his half century off the first ball of the next over when he cut Bresnan for four.
Australia had already clinched the five test series in commanding fashion,taking a 3-0 lead with a win in the third test at Perth on Dec. 17,marking a dramatic reversal of form after losing the previous Ashes series 3-0 in England earlier this year.
Some pundits had tipped England to rout the Australians 5-0 in this series,and now that scoreline could be reversed.
When we left England we had high hopes of doing something very special, England captain Alastair Cook said. I did say at the time we’d have to play some very good cricket if we wanted to achieve that,and we haven’t done that.
Confidence key: Lehmann
Australia coach Darren Lehmann put the turnaround down to a change in confidence. Winning makes it a hell of a lot easier to turn it around, he said. England were where we were,but you have to turn it around somehow and we managed to do that, he said.
Cook took some positives from the match,including the fact his lineup was in front on the third day before yet another batting collapse.
It’s difficult. It’s a tough time, he said. The good thing in this game we got ourselves an opportunity to win it,yesterday afternoon 60 for naught,building a nice lead. It probably shows where we’re at as a side … levels of confidence.
Paceman Mitchell Johnson took eight wickets and was voted player of the match for the third time in four tests this series,despite Rogers’ 61 and 116 in a low-scoring match.
Despite the series already being decided,more than 271,860 fans attended the MCG over the four days,including a world record single day’s attendance of 91,092 on day 1.
England appeared tired and dejected in the field Sunday as Australia confidently batted toward an increasingly inevitable win. Some early missed chances cost them dearly,with Jonny Bairstow failing to move on a Rogers edge off Stuart Broad,leaving a difficult attempt that Cook let slip through for four when Rogers was on 19. Cook then put down a straight-forward edge from Warner at first slip two overs later off Stokes.
Stokes gained revenge shortly after when Warner added just three runs before becoming the only wicket of the morning.
England followed its most dominant performance this series with perhaps its poorest when it dismissed Australia for 204 early on the third day at the MCG only to slump in two dramatic collapses of 3-1 and 5-6 either side of tea. Nathan Lyon (5-50) helped dismiss England for 179 shortly before stumps on day three,giving Australia two full days to chase a modest total.
The fifth test starts Jan. 3 in Sydney,and Australia is a chance to field an unchanged starting XI for the fifth time in the series. The only likely changes would be forced by injury,with Ryan Harris a possibility to be rested after complaining of sore feet this test and Watson who hurt his groin on day 1.