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Strauss basks in Oz demolition

Captain Andrew Strauss savoured the feeling of demons being banished today as England sealed the Ashes, but said the landmark achievement was just one step on the way to cricket's summit for England.

England's bowlers cleaned up Australia's tail before lunch to win the fourth test in Melbourne and become the first touring team to retain the Ashes on Australian soil in 24 years.

Strauss was a member of the team that was whitewashed 5-0 on the previous tour and while it was the "lowest point" of his career, Australia's use of stifling pressure four years ago had been studied and successfully turned back on the hosts, he said.

"The one thing that struck me as an opening batsman was the feeling of being suffocated from both ends all the time," he said.

"I think that was the basis of our strategy out here to make sure that Australia never got away from us and if we did that well that would create wickets.



Naive

"If anything, that series showed us that it's going to be tough work out here and if we expect to turn up and win it is naive."

Strauss lavished plaudits equally on players and coaching staff, and said there was no "secret ingredient" to England's success in Australia, where they forged an unassailable 2-1 lead in the five-test series.

But the England captain said the team's ability to build big scores was given a jolt of confidence after the drawn first test in Brisbane, where Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott teamed for a record 329-run partnership at the Gabba.

Their bowlers had also proved a revelation throughout the series, Strauss added, paying tribute to replacement seamers Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan, and their Australian bowling coach David Saker, for having them slot into the side and take wickets immediately.

"It's a combination of a number of things," he said. "Andy Flower's been an outstanding director and providing a strategy for us to go forward with.



Ultimately

"But ultimately it's about them guys on the pitch delivering consistently.

"Maybe in the past we relied too heavily on one or two players to do that for us, now we don't do that so much.

"I think if there's one strength in our team it's that we all play for each other."

Heart-broken after failing to regain the Ashes, Australia's Ricky Ponting was forced to admit the captaincy issue was out of his hands and his batting powers may be on the wane.

His team lost their remaining wickets before lunch to concede an innings and 157-run defeat.

Ponting, whose struggles with the bat have mirrored Australia's underwhelming campaign, became his country's first captain in 120 years to lose the Ashes three times.

"Hopefully I'm not only remembered as that guy, the guy that lost those three Ashes series," the 36-year-old said. "As a player in the series I haven't achieved what I needed to achieve for the team to be in with a chance to win the Ashes back which I'm very disappointed about."


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