Fittingly it was Mitchell Johnson who took England’s final wicket as they collapsed to another heavy defeat in Australia to yield the Ashes back to their hosts.
The fast bowler proved too feisty for Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan and James Anderson on the final day, with Nathan Lyon taking the other two wickets to grant Australia victory.
An Aussie whitewash is now priced at just 13/8, with England 16/1 to win the final two Tests and add an air of respectability to the scoreline.
Some hope can be taken from the superb performance of Ben Stokes, who scored England’s first century from a number six since Ian Bell plundered one off Sri Lanka in May 2011.
After joining Bell at the crease at 121-4 both batsmen showed admirable bravado as they took the fight to the Australian bowlers in a slightly more circumspect manner than Kevin Pietersen.
England’s hero of the summer Ashes eventually gave up a thin edge to Brad Haddin for 60, while Stokes went on the double that tally before being snagged by the keeper off Lyon.
Stuart Broad came out to bat despite his injury but was left stranded on two not out as Johnson, not for the first time, made short work of England’s tail.
England and Australia have each won two of the past four Ashes Tests at Melbourne, with the visitors rampant on the first day in the 2010/11 tour, bowling out Michael Clarke’s side for 98 en route to a comfortable innings victory.
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