England celebrated a crushing Ashes victory after claiming their first outright series win in Australia for 24 years.
The tourists inflicted another comprehensive defeat on the home side in the fifth decisive Test in Sydney, securing a 3-1 overall victory. They had put the hosts in a hopeless position after achieving their highest-ever team total Down Under with a first innings score of 644 all out.
Those who have spent sleepless nights watching the series unfold since it began in Brisbane last November – as well as the Barmy Army who travelled to the other side of the world – would no doubt feel their loyalty had been duly rewarded by England’s performance.
Opener Alastair Cook has been one of the undoubted stars of the series, with his tally of 766 runs the second highest by an England batsman in any Ashes series, behind only Walter Hammond’s 905 in Australia in 1928/29.
He also set a new world record for a five-Test series by spending 2,171 minutes at the crease and, during the first innings of the fifth Test, became the second youngest player to reach a career total of 5,000 runs.
It was also a special series for Paul Collingwood, who announced that he would be retiring at the end of this, his 68th Test.
Describing the reception he was given at Sydney Cricket Ground after announcing his decision before start of play on the fourth morning of the final Test, he said: “I always said I wanted to bow out in England in front of English fans – but that felt like home tonight, with the atmosphere that was out there.”
Australia’s media has been unforgiving about the humiliating nature of the loss – which included three innings defeats – with one paper labelling the current team as “our worst XI”.
England’s players ran into a joyful huddle after the last wicket was taken by bowler Chris Tremlett. The win also sparked delirium among the several thousand-strong “Barmy Army” of England supporters, who were packed in to their stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground. They are expected to descend on the streets of the city later for a mammoth victory party.
Tremlett told Sky Sports: “It’s unbelievable. I can’t explain it. The lads have been fantastic, the fans have been fantastic. I couldn’t have imagined this would have happened.”