Australia thrash feeble England to retain Ashes at Melbourne

England meekly surrendered the Ashes on the morning of the third day of the third Test as Australia crushed them by an innings and 14 runs to take an unassailable 3-0 series lead.

Resuming on 31-4, England were bowled out for just 68 inside 81 minutes, with debutant Scott Boland taking an astonishing 6-7.

Their final five wickets fell in the space of 30 balls as England offered the weakest of resistance in front of a jubilant home crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

England’s 68 all out is their lowest total in Australia since March 1904 and their ninth lowest score against them in Tests.

The result means Australia have retained the Ashes after just 12 days of cricket and will be eyeing a 5-0 series win.

The fourth Test will begin in Sydney on 4 January.

Even by the low standards England have shown on this tour, this was an abysmal performance.

After being blown away on the evening of the second day, England were always facing a tough task even to make Australia bat again. But no-one could have seen this capitulation coming.

The match was done before the lunch break, England’s batters undone the night before by Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins’ pace before succumbing to the 32-year-old Boland’s relentless accuracy.

England arrived in Australia short of match practice but that is no excuse. They, simply, have not been good enough with the bat.

Root, as he has done all year, has carried England. During the second innings at Melbourne, he went past 1,700 Test runs for the calendar year. England’s next best, Rory Burns, has managed 530 in the same period. Relying on one man, who is also captain, was never going to be enough.

England made four changes for Melbourne and still put in their worst batting performance of the series. Their bowling on the second day was the one bright point, with the indefatigable James Anderson and Mark Wood’s pace unsettling Australia.

However, the same problems that have plagued England with the bat remain. And there seems to be no solution.

As bad as England’s batting has been, Australia’s bowling has been superb, with every change they make working in their favour.

It was Boland, brought into the squad as a replacement for the injured Josh Hazlewood, who took them apart at the MCG, albeit he was helped by England’s rhythmless batting.

His every move was cheered by the home crowd, with Boland raising the ball to them as he dismissed Wood to claim a five-wicket haul.

Few would have expected him to be the one to bowl Australia to glory in the Boxing Day Test, but his accuracy and fuller length was enough to flounder England’s batters.

After the match, when Australia had gone on a socially-distanced lap of honour, Boland was given an award in a moving moment in Melbourne.

Boland, just the second man of Aboriginal origin to play Test cricket for Australia, was given a belt buckle from the Australian indigenous tour of England in 1868.