England today beat Australia in the Second Test to take a 1-0 in the Ashes series. They needed only 90 minutes to take the six wickets they needed to win by an innings and 71 runs and confirm their first victory on Australian soil for 24 years with the series still live.
There were five wickets for Graeme Swann and two each for James Anderson and Steve Finn. The crucial breakthrough was made by Finn in the day's seventh over after England took the second new ball. Mike Hussey, who had just been reprieved when he was dropped behind the wicket, attempted to pull a short ball outside off stump and succeeded only in top edging it to mid on where Anderson did the rest.
Hussey had added nine to his overnight score to reach his third score above fifty of the series but he needed to bat for another four hours to offer his side the hope of a draw.
Australia put up little resistance thereafter. Brad Haddin was next to depart in a fierce opening burst from Anderson and did well to touch one that cut in and then moved away for Matt Prior to take a regulation catch.
Ryan Harris then had the dubious distinction of making a king pair. Having been lbw to Swann first ball in the first innings he fatally shouldered arms to an Anderson inswinger and a review could not save him.
But the system came to England's aid when Marcus North, playing for his career, was caught in front. The umpire, Tony Hill, who had one of his less distinguished games, turned down the fervent appeals. But England decided to ask for a review and the replay showed that the ball was hitting the middle stump about half way up. Three wickets had fallen for the addition of no runs in four balls.
It was too late, much too late for even the weather to save Australia now and Swann was gaining ferocious turn and bounce from the Cathedral End. He was far too smart for Xavier Doherty, pushing one through his forlorn defensive prod.
He took the final wicket when Peter Siddle was bowled through the gate by a viciously turning off spinner. Stuart Broad, who will miss the rest of the tour with an abdominal strain, ran on to the pitch to embrace his colleagues as the final wicket fell.
The last time England won a Test match that counted in Australia was in December 1986 when the side led by Mike Gatting won by an innings and 14 runs in Melbourne to clinch the Ashes. Since then, England have won only three matches on five unsuccessful Ashes tours, all when the series was already decided.
But this win was something of a different order. England dominated the match from the first over - when they immediately undermined Australia's first innings – to last when they had no intention of failing to make full use of a wearing pitch.
Australia, for whom the opening batsman, Simon Katich, is likely to take no further part in the series with a servere Achilles strain, seem to be in state of disarray. They cannot decide what their best attack is and have too many batsmen, including their captain, Ricky Ponting out of form.
By contrast, England's meticulous preparation appears to have handed them a huge advantage. They will miss Broad greatly but so close are they as a unit that one of three reserve bowlers in the squad, Chris Tremleet, Ajmal Shahazad or Tim Bresnan, should fit in seamlessly.
The team's fielding has been superb throughout the series so far and was a key factor in a scintillating victory.