Australia planning Ashes whitewash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Australia planning Ashes whitewash

By Adam Cooper 28/12/2006 09:52:12 PM Comments (0)

Australia won't be letting Shane Warne's retirement party get in the way of an Ashes whitewash and one final crushing of England.

Although the fourth Test win at the MCG was one dedicated to the retiring Warne, Ricky Ponting's side is hellbent on not letting complacency allow England off the mat in the fifth Test at the SCG, which starts on Tuesday.

Australia granted Warne the perfect send-off from his "backyard" when it won the fourth Test by an innings and 99 runs, inside three days.

Warne was hoisted on to the shoulders of teammates after his penultimate match for his country and the last in his home town yielded the man of the match award for seven wickets and an unbeaten 40 before an adoring crowd of almost 80,000.

Warne could not have asked for a better swansong on his home ground but was looking forward to returning to Sydney 15 years after his Test career began there.

"I'm leaving on top of my game," he said.

"I feel like I'm bowling as good as at any stage of my career.

"(Winning) 5-0 is a real goal for us now, a whitewash against an excellent cricket side, and if I can continue to bowl well and get a few wickets in Sydney, that would be great."

In yet another superb performance this series, Australia's bowlers took all 10 England wickets in two sessions to bowl the tourists out for 161 in their second innings.

Brett Lee took 4-47, Stuart Clark 3-30 and Warne 2-46, which gave him 999 international wickets (706 in Tests, 293 in one-day internationals) and another looming milestone.

Australia's performance capped three dominant days of cricket after England captain Andrew Flintoff won the toss and batted on Boxing Day, and further proved how ruthless it has been since losing the Ashes last year.

The pending retirements of Warne and Glenn McGrath, who both play their last Test matches in Sydney, could have been a distraction.

Instead, Australia barely gave England a look-in during the match.

"When there's been big moments in this series we've won them and won them very convincingly," Ponting said.

"That was one thing we didn't do in the last series. When a big moment came up we made a little mistake or a slip-up and allowed England back into the game. We haven't done that this time.

"When you're playing the standard that we have without making mistakes, then I don't think it matters who we're playing."

The victory gave Ponting's side 11 successive Test wins - a perfect 10 from 10 in 2006 - but the captain remained determined to keep the foot firmly on England's throat.

McGrath's departure will provide the sentiment in Sydney, but Australia is chasing history.

It wants to be the second side to whitewash England 5-0 since Warwick Armstrong's men achieved the feat in the summer of 1920-21.

"We've got an opportunity now to be able to create something very special now for this team and this squad in Sydney, and we'll be giving it the best shake we can to win that game," Ponting said.

He said the continued pounding Australia was giving England would also have a demoralising effect on the tourists, who are still to win a match on tour.

"When we're playing as well as we are, and we're on a bit of a run, I'm sure all those little doubts they had in their minds after the first and second Tests are turning into very big doubts as the series is going on," Ponting said.

"We just haven't made mistakes ... we've been relentless, we just haven't given it (the advantage) up. And that's been the difference in our results."

The MCG Test was a celebratory one for several Australians, as Andrew Symonds stamped himself a future Test star with 156, Matthew Hayden hit 153 and Clark and Lee bowled superbly in both innings.

English cricket captain Andrew Flintoff strongly defended his team's pride and character after the horror show.

Before this Test, Flintoff had emphasised that England still had much to play for and was determined to win.

He was clearly hurt when it was suggested post-match that such sentiments had gone missing.

"There is a lot of character and pride and I will reiterate that ... it's not nice when that's questioned," Flintoff said.

"I stand up for myself and every one of the lads in that respect.

"But Australia was good and we didn't have too many answers for that."

Flintoff said it hurt to lose yet again, but he remains determined that England will win one Test on this tour.

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