MANCHESTER: England’s cricketers let their brilliance in the third Test against Australia go to waste as they collapsed to a 185-run defeat in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Manchester.
The Aussies thus moved 2-1 up in the series with one to play and, as holders, will retain the Ashes whatever the outcome.
Captain Joe Root’s team must now wait until they travel Down Under for the next series in the winter of 2021-22 to recapture the trophy they lost last year.
England, who were chasing a remarkable summer double after winning their first Cricket World Cup in July, managed to take the match into its final session before succumbing.
There was no repeat of Ben Stokes’ heroics in the previous test at Headingley as the all-rounder was out shortly before lunch for just one.
They might have hoped for some help from the city’s famously unreliable weather, but there was no sign of rain as the packed ground basked in sunshine for much of the day.
Australia have largely outplayed England in a memorable series, winning the first Test, then drawing the second.
England levelled matters amid remarkable scenes during the third clash in Leeds last month as Stokes single-handedly reignited their forlorn challenge with one of the best test match innings ever seen.
But that, and the explosive fast bowling of Jofra Archer, will be England’s main highlights from a series dominated by Steve Smith’s incredible batting feats and Australia’s fearsome pace attack.
Root expressed his disappointment at losing the Ashes but hailed the character of his side in pushing Australia to the wire.
He told Sky Sports: “I thought we showed great character, great fight and great belief in what we wanted to achieve.
“As last week we always believed, we always make sure we fight right until the end and we tried our hardest today.
“You can always look at different areas where you could have done things slightly differently but I couldn’t be more proud of the effort the guys put in today.”
Australia captain Tim Paine hailed his side’s resilience, saying: “I was really proud today with how our bowlers kept sticking at it.
“This team’s been through a lot in the last 12 to 18 months and I think the character we’ve shown to bounce back – even from Headingley – shows a lot about the character of the people we’ve got in our side.
“It’s been an unbelievable series, it’s been intense, every game’s gone pretty much down to the wire and that’s what we expected and prepared for.”