England have won the Ashes in Australia. They won the fourth Test by an innings and 157 runs after 83 minutes on the fourth morning to give them an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the series.
There is still the small matter of cementing their place in history by defeating the old enemy in the final match of the rubber which begins in Sydney next week – but that should not diminish the level of their achievement in ending 24 years and five successive hammerings.
Not since Mike Gatting's team of 1986-87 won the old urn Down Under have England won in Australia. Andrew Strauss, the victorious captain, said: "We have worked very hard to achieve this, we still want to win the series. It has been a really top quality performance because we had to bounce back from Perth."
The final wicket was taken by the improbable figure of Tim Bresnan, who was brought into the side for the match in Melbourne in place of Steve Finn. It proved to be an inspired change as Bresnan, finding prodigious movement, took six wickets in the match.
England were held up this morning by a defiant eighth-wicket partnership of 86 from 99 balls between Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle. But once that was ended by Graeme Swann, with Kevin Pietersen taking a well-judged boundary catch, the end came swiftly when Ben Hilfenhaus edged Bresnan behind for Matt Prior to take a tumbling catch to his left.
England will need to regroup once more to clinch the series – it would be disappointing not to win it – but pound for pound and man for man they have been easily the better side. Australia, by comparison, are in disarray.
Strauss said: "We knew coming to Australia you need more than 11 players. Chris Tremlett was a surprise selection at first and he bowled outstandingly well. Tim Bresnan came into the side here and he was excellent. We're very excited now. To come here and retain the Ashes is something that will live long in all our memories."