Australia reclaim Ashes, Smith seeks ‘whitewash’

England dismissed for 218

Australia’s Nathan Lyon (left), fields off his own bowling from England’s Dawid Malan (center), during the final day of their Ashes cricket Test match in Perth, Australia on Dec 18. (AP)

PERTH, Australia, Dec 18, (AFP): Steve Smith praised his “exceptional” team as Australia reclaimed the Ashes with an innings win over England in the third Test in Perth on Monday, and set his sights on a series whitewash. Australia dismissed England for 218 in their second innings after rain delays and a pitch controversy on the final day in Perth to win back the urn in the last Ashes Test to be played at the WACA Ground.

That gave the home side an innings- and-41-run win and an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, having won the opening two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide. “It’s been an amazing couple of weeks,” said Smith. “What the boys have delivered has been exceptional. England have had their foot in the door in a couple of games and we’ve been able to claw our way back to get back in the game, and then keep the foot on the throat.” Having confirmed his status as the world’s best batsman with a matchwinning double century, Smith added victorious Ashes captain to his everexpanding resume.

That CV also includes a role in the 5-0 whitewash of England on their last tour to Australia, and Smith said his team would now seek to repeat that achievement. “It’d be fantastic to do that and we’ll talk about Melbourne when we get there,” he said. “Right now, I’m just really satisfied with what we’ve achieved in these first three Test matches. I’d love to do that again, but we will just take it one step at a time.” England captain Joe Root said the gap between the sides was not as stark as the scoreline suggested. “It’s bitterly disappointing, one of the most frustrating things is we haven’t been blown away, we haven’t been completely outplayed,” he said. “We’ve put up some good performances, just not for long enough. In all three games there have been periods we have matched and outplayed the Australians.

“These three games are not a fair refl ection of how we have played and what we are capable of, so we need to do ourselves justice.” While it was a comfortable win for the home side in Perth in the end, there was high drama on the final day courtesy of yet another WACA pitch controversy. Victory seemed assured for Australia when they had England 132 for four at the conclusion of the fourth day, still 127 runs behind, but a rain-damaged pitch threatened to foil the home side.

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