England’s failure to capitalise on opportunities in key moments of the Ashes resulted in their 4-0 loss to a “far better” Australia side, Jimmy Anderson admitted after the series drew to a close in Sydney.
The vice-captain said falling short on the run count and not keeping pressure up on the hosts led to defeat Down Under.
Anderson stood in for captain Joe Root at the presentation, the skipper put out of action due to a “gastro bug” that followed playing in record heat on the final Test’s penultimate day.
He said: “I think, to be honest, we’ve been outplayed in the key moments of each game. We’ve been in the games to an extent but we’ve just not been able to capitalise on any opportunities we got.”
The 35-year-old added: “Australia – credit to Steve (Smith) and his team, they’ve played fantastically well throughout the series and were the far better side throughout the tournament.”
Australia’s bowlers were unrelenting to the final wicket, finishing off England for 180 runs in the final Test as they scored an innings and 123 run win.
Anderson said: “They have got a fantastic bowling attack and all the batsmen have come to the party, they’ve scored runs when the team needed them.
“I think looking at ourselves that’s were we’ve slipped up. We’ve not scored the amount of runs you need to win a series like this and as a bowling group we have not not created the pressure for long enough periods of time.”
Root, who had spent the morning in hospital with dehydration before returning to the Sydney cricket Ground hoping to make a final stand, was “asleep in the dressing room trying to recover” when the final wicket fell.
Anderson said: “He’s not been too well throughout the night and it’s taken its toll on him, I think the heat yesterday didn’t help.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 8, 2018
Paying tribute to the England fans who on Sunday endured the hottest day in Sydney since 1939, Anderson said: “We are very lucky to have such great support, not just the Barmy Army, we’ve got a lot of English travelling support that follows us round the world and we are very grateful for them even though we’ve been beaten in this series.”
Australia captain Steve Smith said “belief”, each player knowing their roles and a home crowd were behind their success.
He said: “I think England had their foot in the door in all of the Test matches, they’ve played some exceptional cricket and we’ve just been able to get on top in those key moments and not let them back in the game which has been crucial.”
Australia ruthlessly extinguished England’s resistance to claim an innings victory in the fifth Ashes Test and complete a 4-0 series rout on the final day in Sydney on Monday.
The beleaguered tourists, with skipper Joe Root weakened by a stomach bug and unable to continue batting, dissolved after lunch, losing their last four wickets for their fourth comprehensive defeat of the series.
“It has been a great couple of months. The cricket that we have played in the last couple of months has been outstanding,” Australia skipper Steve Smith said.
“We have just been able to get on top and win those key moments and not let them back in the game which is crucial.”
Pat Cummins led the Australian offensive in Sydney with four wickets for 39 to finish man-of-the-match and the leading wicket taker in the series with 23.
“To get through the five Tests and end the series here at home. I couldn’t asked for much more,” said an ecstatic Cummins.
England finished at 180 for nine off 88.1 overs as Australia won by an innings and 123 runs.
It followed comprehensive losses on the troubled five-Test tour in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The fourth Test was drawn in Melbourne.
Stricken Root did not come out to bat after lunch as he continued to experience discomfort after his overnight stomach bug.
“He is asleep. He has a gastro bug and he has not been too well through the night and the heat yesterday didn’t help. He is asleep in the dressing-room trying to recover,” said vice-captain Jimmy Anderson, deputising for Root at the post-match presentations.
“To be honest we have been outplayed in the key moments of each game,” he added.
“We have been in the games to an extent but just not been able to capitalise on any opportunities. Australia have played great in this series.”
Cummins struck twice in three balls after lunch, trapping Jonny Bairstow leg before wicket for 38 and having Stuart Broad caught behind off a brutish bouncer for four.
Mason Crane got another Cummins bouncer which he gloved to wicketkeeper Tim Paine for two and Anderson was caught behind off Josh Hazlewood for two to end the innings.
Root went to hospital overnight with England Cricket initially saying he had “severe dehydration” after fielding and batting in intense heat on Sunday.
But team officials corrected earlier statements and said Root was instead weakened by the effects of a gastroenteritis bug.
He came out to bat on the dismissal of Moeen Ali for 13 an hour into the final day’s play and reached his fifth half-century of the series, but was unable to convert any of them to a century.
England’s remote chances of saving the Test disappeared when Root failed to appear at the crease after lunch.
Spinner Nathan Lyon claimed Moeen’s wicket for the seventh time in the series when he trapped him leg before in the morning session, which Moeen did not review.
Lyon took three wickets for 54 off 35 overs.
The Australians took a grip on the final Test with a massive 303-run innings lead and then reduced the battle-weary tourists to 93 for four at the close on the fourth day.
All five Tests went into the fifth day.
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen appears to have moved closer to retirement after admitting the current Big Bash tournament would be his last.
Pietersen, 38 this year, said last year’s T20 Blast would be his last cricket in England and he has now confirmed he will not be playing in Australia again once the current Big Bash ends.
Now a T20 specialist following the breakdown of his England career, the South Africa-born power-hitter says he cannot improve any more and as such is close to calling time.
“Confirming that this is my last BBL as a player!” Pietersen, who has played for the Melbourne Stars for the last four seasons, wrote on Twitter.
“By the time BBL starts later this yr I cannot see myself wanting to improve or try & get better. That means it’s time to finish! I’ll enjoy playing my last few games at the Adelaide Oval, SCG & MCG!”
Pietersen still has commitments to come in 2018 and the Pakistan and South African T20 competitions, but it may well be that he will not play into 2019.
If it is the end, it will bring to a close a colourful, controversial but successful career which saw him plunder 32 hundreds for England, 23 of which came in Tests where he scored 8,181 runs in 104 outings.