England saved their worst for the last time as they signed a disastrous Ashes series, their most chaotic collapse on a tour full of contenders, with a 146-point loss and a 4- The score of 0 dropped.
When asked to go after 271 people in Hobart’s day/night clash, they put together a horror show on the third night, going from 68 missing without missing a beat to 124 going all out.
They lost all 10 wickets in 56 overs, lining up to drop their wicket in an unfortunate dismissal at 22.4 overs. It’s an embarrassment that takes some time to overcome and only adds to the clamour for changing a setup that forgets not only how to win, but how to compete.
A tight draw in Sydney last week means Joe Root’s side won’t go down in history with their whitewashed predecessors in 2006/07 and 2013/14, but few would disagree that this is a rivalry weaker and less successful campaigns.
The final chapter was as grim as anything that emerged in the first three Tests, when the urn was handed over after a frustrating 12 days, and an outside chance to win face gave way to another weak-willed, weakness-centred debacle .
Early on in this post, it seemed like a face-saving victory might be on the horizon, which wasn’t enough to cover the cracks, but at least ease some of the pain of the past few weeks, for fans and players alike.
Mark Wood did his best to put victory on the table with his midsection on fire, taking five wickets on the day and finishing with a career-best number of 6 37.
He was underwhelmed by thankless returns for much of the series, but along the way, his pace, persistence and personality have earned Australia’s respect.
Here, he was able to translate all of that into performance, doing the heavy lifting as Australia topped the table with 188 points – their lowest in the series.
Wood knocked out a hostile short to keep the batsmen scrambled, going three-for-12 in his first inning as Scott Boland, Travis Hyde and Steve Smith were all overwhelmed , then return to the finishing round.
It seemed like he might have paved the way for an unforgettable chase as he walked off the field with the pink kookaburra held high and to rapturous applause.
But as things stand, this England team has no appetite. People found their top orders too short, too frequent, technical cracks and a clear lack of determination.
Few have suffered more than Rory Burns — cleaned up by the first ball of the series, dropped after two Tests, recalled in the early stages of a technical shift, and Ran out a duck in his first inning.
Against that backdrop, the series’ biggest opener — 68 with the frivolous Zach Crowley — represents a cause for genuine optimism.
On the way to the 28, he narrowly passed the vacant fourth landslide, surviving a lbw cry that could have been maintained had Australia mentioned and had Mitchell Starc desperately close to his stump.
But he came just a tad closer at the end of the second period, dismissed in the final game after a late decision saw Cameron Green leave around the wicket to see his stump open.
The 6ft 7in all-rounder has been a breakthrough star for the Australian and at just 22 years old looks destined to be an England nightmare for years to come. Still, he thinks the future can wait and then rush back to turn his timely breakthrough into a post-tea game-changing spell.
Shortly after the restart, he hit Dawid Malan on the side of the helmet with a bouncy bouncer before convincing the southpaw to cut in as he skillfully exploited the angle.
The show had an underwhelming ending, but the news that his wife gave birth to their first child in Harrogate overnight at least gave him a proper sense of his situation.
England desperately needed another solid stance to shut everything down, but Crowley headed to the departure lounge for another sweet-bound but under-contented cameo.
He hit the ropes seven times at the age of 36 but let himself down when he aimed Green at the centre goal and instead sprayed a goalkeeper who received the ball. This left a huge burden on the captain and his right-hand man, but any hopes of a big hit from Root and Ben Stokes were dashed.
With just five points left, Stokes jumped out of the exact same trap England had set for Wood earlier in the day, pushing Stark deep into the square leg for a numb exit.
Root was at least responsible for his departure on the 11th, where he lost pole position to Scott Boland’s shin-height striker.
The next five wickets dropped a total of 23 as any excuse for a counter-attack was left behind.
Sam Billings punched Boland into the middle, Ollie Pope was punched in his lap like a rookie, and Chris Woakes’ wild was caught by Alex Carey.
Wood and Robinson were not in the mood to hang out, with the LED ‘Zing’ bail lit twice in a row as Australia captain Cummins rearranged their woodwork to lead his side to a famous victory.