Australia bereft after England’s Ashes victory

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SYDNEY - The English cricket team retained the Ashes trophy for the first time in 24 years Wednesday with an innings-and-157-run victory over Australia in the fourth Test in Melbourne.

The home side closed its second-innings account at 9 for 258 after injured Ryan Harris declared himself unable to bat.

With a 2-1 lead in the five-match series, the visitors will get to keep the trophy whatever the outcome of the upcoming Sydney Test.

“It’s pretty hard to accept - but we haven’t deserved it; that’s the bottom line,” beleaguered captain Ricky Ponting said after his side was humbled by England.

“We’ve been beaten badly, we have to try and put that behind us if we can, learn some lesson from the game and get to Sydney and try to salvage some pride,” Ponting, the first captain to lose three Ashes series, told national broadcaster ABC.

The 36-year-old maintained he still deserved to play for, and captain, Australia. But the pressure on selectors to find a replacement was compounded when Ponting was punished by the match referee for churlishly disputing a decision he had unsuccessfully referred.

England captain Andrew Strauss said retaining the Ashes reflected the professionalism of his side.

“Performances have come throughout the whole side,” he said. “We haven’t relied on one or two players in this series and if you want to be a good side that’s what you need.”

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