Australia have set their sights on returning to the top of Test cricket after sealing the Ashes with one of the most dominant performances in memory.
Tuesday’s innings-and-14-run flogging of England was befitting of the first three Tests of the summer, with the two-and-a-bit days marking the quickest Test victory in Australia in 71 years.
So too was it symbolic of England’s meek resistance, with Scott Boland’s 6-7 seeing them all out for 68 on Tuesday, sending them to a new low at the end of a horror month.
Winning Ashes series at home has become routine for Australia, with eight of the last nine on home soil wrapped up inside the first three Tests.
But captain Pat Cummins is desperate for this to only be the beginning, wanting to whitewash the series in Sydney and Hobart for World Test Championship points and return to No.1.
“It doesn’t just feel like a 3-0 victory, it feels like we’re really setting ourselves up for the next few years as well,” Cummins said.
“When Australian cricket has been in its best, the Test cricket side win at home and they have a really good record away.
“I feel like it’s building, we’ve got a squad of 15 or 20 guys we can pick from and we’ve got options for anywhere in the world.
“The Test championships is now a big thing. I absolutely want to be in that final in a couple of years time.”
What gives Cummins belief is the performances of the likes of Boland, Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson this summer.
Under-pressure to hold his spot amid criticism, Starc was frequently the man to break England’s back.
He led the way in England’s second innings, getting Zak Crawley and Dawid Malan with back-to-back balls on the second evening before bowling Ben Stokes for 11 early on day three.
Crucially, he also found a way to lead Australia’s attack in a summer where Josh Hazlewood has missed two Tests through injury and Cummins one through a COVID-19 scare.
He set the tone with the first ball of the summer when he bowled Rory Burns, starting England’s spiral.
And just as Richardson claimed 5-42 in the fourth innings in Adelaide, Boland made a name for himself at the MCG in front of his home crowd.
After removing Haseeb Hameed and nightwatchman Jack Leach in one over on Monday night, he trapped Jonny Bairstow lbw for five in the first hour on Tuesday morning.
And when he had England captain Joe Root (28) edging off for the sixth time this series, the rot had well and truly set in.
The Victorian got rid of Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood in the next over, before Cameron Green finally ended England’s on-field misery.
Such was their spiral, Green’s ball that bowled Jimmy Anderson meant the urn was sealed in just 852.3 overs from the first ball at the Gabba to the last at the MCG – the fewest in Ashes history in Australia.
“Everything’s just gone to plan,” Cummins said.
“I haven’t even felt like there’s been one session where it’s really got away from us.
“It’s what dreams are made of the way we’ve played.”
England’s only fight now is to try to avoid a 5-0 whitewash, but on current form that would require a miracle or intervention from the weather in Sydney and Hobart.
“We have to stay mentally resilient,” a gutted Root said.
“It’s bitterly disappointing to be three-nil down.
“But with two Test matches to go we have to come away from this tour with a couple of wins.”