We have so far witnessed a splendid summer of cricket in the southern hemisphere, which has seen Australia steamroll England in the latest Ashes series, and South Africa defied the odds against the powerhouse that is India.
Team India headed the way of South Africa for the first time in four years, and the visit of the top-ranked Test nation to the tip of the African continent also commemorated three decades since South Africa’s readmission to the international cricketing landscape, after 20 years of sporting isolation.
When India last visited in 2017/18, the Proteas boasted a host of seasoned internationals such as AB De Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. Since then, however, all six players have called time on their Test careers and a new crop of talent has infiltrated the Proteas squad.
Ahead of the latest series, India were overwhelming favourites despite having never claimed a Test series in South Africa in seven previous visits. The tour commenced on Boxing Day with the first of three Test matches in the Freedom Series.
In the 1st Test at Centurion, India chose to bat first and Virat Kohli's choice soon paid off. The opening pair of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal patiently raised a 117-run opening stand before the Proteas found their opening wicket. Lungi Ngidi struck gold in the 41st over of the innings when he trapped Mayank lbw for 60 runs, and the paceman doubled down the very next delivery as Cheteshwar Pujara was gone after facing a single ball.
Kohli was next in as well as next out, the India skipper contributed a knock of 35 runs before he was caught at first slip off Ngidi's bowling.
At day 1 stumps, India sat on 272/3 with thanks to their centurion in Centurion, Rahul unbeaten on 122*.The entirety of the second day was lost to adverse weather, without a ball bowled at Supersport Park.
Kagiso Rabada got rid of Rahul early on day 3, caught behind by Quinton de Kock after the opening batsman produced a stellar innings of 123 runs in 260 balls.
The home team claimed six wickets in the space of eight overs, at the expense of just 32 runs in that span. Ngidi picked up the wickets of Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant and Mohamed Shami, while Rabada removed Ravichandran Ashwin and Shardul Thakur.
Proteas debutant Marco Jansen took the tenth and final wicket of the innings, with Jasprit Bumrah caught by Wiaan Mulder in the slips. India 327 all-out.
Ngidi took six wickets for 71 runs, Rabada 3/72.
India dealt an early blow to the Proteas when Bumrah got rid of South African skipper Dean Elgar in the opening over, caught behind by wicketkeeper Pant.
SA were down four wickets inside 13 overs as Elgar, Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen and Rassie Van der Dussen each returned to the pavilion for 15 runs or fewer. de Kock and Temba Bavuma produced a 72-run partnership – the highest throughout South Africa's innings.
de Kock was bowled by Thakur for 34 runs and Mulder added 12 runs to the board before his removal by Shami. Bavuma top-scored with 52 runs, but two balls after celebrating his half-century did Bavuma lose his wicket through an outside edge caught by Pant, bowled by Shami.
Rabada and Jansen made a considerable effort in their 37-run 8th-wicket partnership, before Thakur, Shami and Bumrah each claimed one of the final three wickets. SA bowled out for 197.
Shami ended 5/44; Bumrah 2/16; Thakur 2/51.
India led by 130 runs at the start of their 2nd innings, but lost an early wicket as Mayank walked after he edged Jansen's first delivery of the innings into de Kock's gloves.
India were 16/1 at stumps day 3, with a 146-run lead.
In the morning on day 4, Rabada took the wicket of nightwatchman Thakur and ten overs later Ngidi picked up a huge wicket in Rahul, who scored 23 runs.
Ngidi also spelled the end for Pujara, in between Jansen removing Kohli and Rahane which left India 111/6.
The remaining four wickets fell in the space of 33 deliveries as Rabada claimed three and Jansen the final scalp. India all-out for 174, setting South Africa a 305-run target to win the opening Test match.
Pant (32) top-scored with Rahul's 23 runs the next-best haul for India.
Rabada 4/42; Jansen 4/55; Ngidi 2/31.
For the second time in the match India found their first wicket inside the opening two overs. Markram was bowled by Shami for a solitary run. Three more wickets fell on day 4, with Petersen (17) and Van der Dussen (11) both departing before the close of play.
SA were 94/4 at stumps on the penultimate day, with Elgar unbeaten on 52. Keshav Maharaj played nightwatchman and was bowled for 8 runs on the last delivery of the day.
At the start of play on the final day the Proteas required 211 runs and India six wickets to win the opening Test of the Freedom Series.
Elgar moved to 77 in the morning before he was trapped lbw by Bumrah. At this point South Africa were 130/5 and needed 175 runs for victory.
de Kock could only muster 21 runs before he became Mohammed Siraj's second victim of the innings. Mulder added one run and Jansen 13. Rabada and Ngidi both went for a duck as India swept to victory. Bavuma had his head held high with an unbeaten knock of 35.
Bumrah 3/50; Shami 3/63
Ashwin 2/18; Siraj 2/47
KL Rahul was named Player of the Match for his 1st innings century.
RESULT: India won by 113 runs (0-1)
In the aftermath to the opening Test, Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman de Kock unexpectedly announced his retirement from red-ball cricket with immediate effect. Kyle Verreynne took the place of de Kock for the second Test, and Duanne Olivier came in for Mulder in the Proteas’ lineup.
India skipper Kohli was ruled out with a back spasm, leaving KL Rahul to take over captaincy duties in Johannesburg. Kohli was replaced by Hanuma Vihari in the visitors' only change.
Rahul won the toss and chose to bat first on a very bouncy surface at the Wanderers.
Jansen got the breakthrough for the Proteas, dismissing Mayank for 26 in the 15th over, before Olivier claimed the scalps of Pujara and Rahane in back-to-back deliveries shortly before midday.
India reached lunch on day 1 at 53/3.
On his Test captaincy debut, Rahul recorded his 13th fifty in the game's longest format as he top-scored for India with 50 runs. The stand-in skipper was one of just two India batsmen to score 30+.
The visitors were 202 all-out as South Africa picked up five wickets in 12.1 overs after tea.
Jansen ended with figures of 4/31, while Rabada and Olivier each claimed three wickets for 64 runs apiece.
Similarly to in the first Test, India struck early as Shami trapped Markram lbw in the fourth over for 7 runs. Elgar and Petersen shared a 2nd-wicket partnership of 74, with the captain making 28 runs before he was taken out by Thakur, caught by Pant.
Thakur also took Petersen for 62, but not before he celebrated his maiden Test half-ton. It soon became the 'Shardul Show' as he removed all of the Proteas' next three batsmen in Van der Dussen (1), Verreynne (21) and Bavuma (51). Bavuma brought up his fifty off just 61 balls.
Jansen and Maharaj each added 21 runs, while the trio of Rabada, Olivier and Ngidi scored a combined one run.
It was an even contest ahead of the 2nd innings’ with the home side leading by 27 runs after they were bowled out for 229.
Rahul could not reverberate his influential form in the 1st innings, as the substitute captain went for 8 runs off Jansen's bowling. Mayank scored 23 before he was dismissed lbw by Olivier.
India ended day 2 on 85/2, leading SA by 58 runs.
The visitors controlled proceedings in the first session on the third day, as Pujara and Rahane notched 63 runs in the opening 12 overs on day 3 for both batsmen to bring up their half-centuries. Rabada finally delivered his team's first wicket of the day as Rahane departed for 58, caught behind by Verreynne.
Rabada soon had another after trapping Pujara lbw for 53, and in a flash India had two new batsmen in the middle. Rabada would then take his third wicket of the morning in the space of ten deliveries for the fast bowler.
India made it to lunch on 188/6 – leading by 161 runs – as Ngidi removed Ashwin in the final over before midday.
Vihari and Thakur brought up 41 runs in their 7th-wicket stand, but Jansen took Thakur for 28 and Shami for a duck.
Ngidi notched the final two wickets as India were bowled out for 266, setting the home team a target of 240 runs to win the Test at the Wanderers.
Markram fell in the 10th over for 31, dismissed lbw for the second time in as many innings'. Petersen, too, was taken lbw this time by Ashwin.
At stumps day 3, SA were 118/2 and had themselves two days to score 122 runs and win the Test at the Bull Ring.
The first and second sessions on day 4 were washed out without a ball bowled until after tea, as play only resumed at 1540 local time.
Van der Dussen made 40 before Shami got his man, but it was not enough to stop Proteas skipper Elgar from seeing out the contest with an unbeaten knock of 96* while Bavuma was on 23 not-out.
Elgar was named Player of the Match after he steered his troops to victory with a day to spare.
RESULT: South Africa won by 7 wickets (1-1)
With the series in the balance, South Africa named an unchanged team for the 3rd and final Test in Cape Town. India made two changes as captain Kohli returned to the lineup for Vihari, while veteran fast bowler Umesh Yadav took the place of Siraj.
For the third time in the series did India win the toss and for the third time did they elect to bat first.
SA picked up two wickets in successive overs as openers Rahul and Mayank were both caught behind, inside the first 13 overs of play. Olivier got the wicket of KL Rahul, before Rabada removed Mayank on the paceman’s 50 Test match as a Protea.
India reached lunch on 75/2 as Pujara and Kohli drove the 3rd-wicket stand. The partnership hit 62 runs before Pujara was dismissed by Jansen's bowling and Verreynne's catching. Rahane added just 9 runs before Rabada saw the end of him.
Pant and Kohli shared a 5th-wicket partnership of 51 runs, but Jansen got Pant with thanks to a stunning one-handed catch by Petersen. India were 141/4 at tea on day 1.
SA dominated the final session of the day, taking the remaining six wickets in the space of 17 overs, for 56 runs. India were 223 all-out as Kohli's 79 was the team's best individual score.
Elgar was gone for 3 runs inside five overs as SA were 17/1 at stumps, with Maharaj playing
nightwatchman for the second time during the series.
India had a dream start to day 2 as Bumrah bowled Makram for 8 runs on the second delivery of the morning. Maharaj was bowled for 25 by Yadav.
Petersen and Van der Dussen's 4th-wicket partnership peaked at 67 runs and then the latter was taken out by Yadav for 21 runs.
Bavuma added 28 runs before he was removed by Shami, and two balls later Verreynne went out for a duck as he became Shami's next scalp.
The South African lower order was unconvincing with bat in hand and the hosts were bowled out for 210, trailing India by 13 runs. Petersen was the Proteas' shining light with 77 runs.
Bumrah took five wickets for 42 runs, Shami 2/39, and Yadav 2/64.
SA took two wickets before the end of play on day 2, India 57/2 at stumps with a 70-run lead.
The hosts claimed two early wickets on the third day, with Jansen dismissing Pujara for 9 on the second delivery of the morning session. The very next over Rabada spelled the end of Rahane’s innings as the batsman was sent back to the pavilion with a solitary run to his name.
Pant brought up a 58-ball fifty on the cusp of lunch, his eighth Test half-century. Kohli and Pant looked very comfortable in the middle, their 5th-wicket partnership worth 72 runs at lunchtime, with India on 130/4 and holding a 143-run lead.
The partnership rose to 94 runs before Kohli was removed by Ngidi, the first of three wickets by the fast bowler after lunch. Rabada took his third wicket of the innings before Jansen landed the final two wickets.
India 198 all-out in their 2nd innings, with South Africa needing 212 runs to win the deciding Test match and clinch the series.
Ngidi 3/21; Rabada 3/53
Pant brought up his fourth Test century from 133 balls, at a strike-rate of 75.2, and ended on an unbeaten 100*. Kohli was India’s second-highest run-scorer with 29.
The next-best contributor to India’s cause were extras with byes, leg-byes, wides and no-balls accounting for 28 of India‘s 198 total.
SA lost both their openers before the end of the third day, with Elgar's dismissal by Bumrah signaling the close of play on day 3. South Africa were 101/2 at the end of day 3, needing 111 runs for victory.
Van der Dussen and Petersen continued in the morning, and Petersen went on to register his third Test fifty. Thakur bowled Petersen for 82, bringing an end to his 54-run partnership with Van der Dussen.
Bavuma joined Van der Dussen in the middle and the duo's unbeaten partnership of 57 runs was enough to seal the deal for the Proteas who claimed an impressive 2-1 Test series triumph over a dominant India outfit.
Petersen was named Player of the Match for his knocks of 72 & 82, and the 28-year-old also walked away with the Player of the Series accolade.
RESULT: South Africa won by 7 wickets (2-1)
Jansen quite literally stood head and shoulders above the rest, as the lanky left-arm pace bowler claimed 19 wickets in his debut Test series for the Proteas. The 6ft8in ended the series with impressive figures of 19/313, and an economy of 3.02 from 103.3 overs of bowling.
Rabada was the only bowler from either team to take more wickets than Jansen in the Freedom Test Series, ending with 20 wickets for 381 runs from 119.1 overs.
Ngidi took 15/225, while Shami was India's top wicket-taker with 14.
Last time India hit South African shores, Rabada was still a junior member in the Proteas fold but this time around the 26-year-old was leading the attack for South Africa.
Petersen scored the most runs in the series with 276 in six innings', averaging 46 runs. Ahead of a massive Test series with India, Petersen had played in just two Test matches for the Proteas and for a player with little relative experience, Petersen batted at no.3 with great composure and grit.
Elgar scored a total 235 runs, while KL Rahul (226) was India's leading run-scorer.
Six of India’s XI from the 3rd Test also represented their nation in the first of three ODIs in the Western Cape, and likewise for South Africa.
Out: Mayank, Pujara, Rahane, Yadav, Shami.
In: Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Out: Elgar, Petersen, Verreynne, Rabada, Olivier.
In: de Kock, Janneman Malan, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi.
In the 1st One Day International in Paarl, SA won the toss with Bavuma electing to bat first.
India found their wicket early, as Malan left for 6 runs in the fifth over after he was caught by Pant off Bumrah. de Kock made 27 before he was bowled by Ashwin, and Markram added 4 runs but was run out by Venkatesh.
Van der Dussen together with one-day captain Bavuma produced a magnificent 4th-wicket stand of 204 runs from 184 balls. Both men delivered their second ODI centuries to guide the Proteas to a total of 296/4 in 50 overs.
India lost their opening wicket to an unlikely source as Markram made the breakthrough in the ninth over with Rahul out for 12. The visitors' 2nd-wicket partnership between Dhawan and Kohli reached 92 runs off 102 balls before Maharaj bowled Dhawan for 79.
Kohli also lost out to spin bowling, this time Shamsi, as he departed for 51.
Four wickets fell between overs 34-39 as the quartet of Shreyas (17), Pant (16), Venkatesh (2), and Ashwin (7) all returned to the dugout without significantly adding to India's score.
After 40 overs, India were 203/7 and needed 94 runs from the final 60 balls.
Shamsi took the wicket of Kumar for 4, and the Proteas managed to restrict the opposition to 265/8 and take victory in the opening instalment of the ODI series.
Thakur ended on 50* not-out.
POTM: R Van der Dussen (129*)
RESULT: South Africa won by 31 runs (1-0)
The teams remained in Paarl for the 2nd ODI, this time India won the toss and chose to bat.
India were unchanged while Sisanda Magala took the place of Jansen in the Proteas' team.
India were 57/0 after 10 overs with Rahul and Dhawan getting off to an ideal start at the crease. In the 12th over Dhawan lost his wicket for 29 and six balls later Kohli was gone for a duck.
Rahul and Pant shared a 50-run partnership from 56 balls and shortly thereafter Pant raised his bat to celebrate a 43-ball fifty, his fourth half-ton in ODI cricket. Rahul, meanwhile, celebrated his 10th ODI half-ton and his first as India captain.
The 3rd-wicket pairing reached 115 runs and then Magala got Rahul for 55, and Shamsi got rid of Pant for 85. Shreyas and Venkatesh added 11 and 22 runs, respectively, before both batsmen were back in the pavilion by the 45th over.
Thakur was on 40 not-out and Ashwin an unbeaten 25 as India posted 287/6 in their 50 overs.
de Kock and Malan got off to a dream start as South Africa did not lose a wicket in the opening 20 overs. de Kock brought up a fifty off 36 deliveries, his second against India and 27th overall.
The opening-wicket stand rose to 132 runs but in the 22nd over Rahul brought Thakur into the attack, and the fast bowler removed de Kock lbw for 78. Earlier in the same over Malan brought up his fifty from 66 balls. Malan reached 91 before he was bowled by Bumrah in the 35th over.
With 15 overs left, South Africa were 213/2, whereas India were 191/4 at the same stage in their innings. SA required 75 runs from 90 balls.
Bavuma was on 35 when he was caught and bowled by Chahal. Markram and Van der Dussen both ended on 37 not-out which was sufficient to wrap up the series for the home side to take an unassailable 2-0 lead. SA 288/3
POTM: Q de Kock (78)
RESULT: South Africa won by 7 wickets (2-0)
The 3rd and final ODI took place at Newlands in Cape Town, where India won the toss and fielded first. SA made a single change as Dwaine Pretorius replaced Shamsi.
With the series already lost, India rang the changes with four players swapped. Thakur, Ashwin, Venkatesh, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar dropped out, as Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna were all drafted into the side.
SA suffered a couple of early setbacks when Malan departed at the start of the third over, for just 1 run, and Bavuma was run out in the seventh over for 8 runs.
de Kock had to make a lasting impact and this he did. The former one-day skipper smacked a 59-ball fifty, his second half-ton of the series, third versus India and his 28th ODI fifty overall.
de Kock put on a 144-run partnership with Van der Dussen, and the latter reached his half-century off 53 deliveries. de Kock brought up his 17th ODI hundred from 108 balls.
The partnership was broken and de Kock and Van der Dussen went out in back-to-back overs.
Miller added 39 and Pretorius 20 as South Africa were bowled out for 287 with one ball of the 50 overs to spare.
KL Rahul only lasted until the fifth over when he lost out to Ngidi for 9 runs. Dhawan and Kohli seemed to take control with a 2nd-wicket stand of 98 runs, but Dhawan went for 61 in the 23rd over. At the end of the same over, Pant was taken out for a golden duck.
Kohli knocked a half-century off 63 balls, before the former India captain fell victim to Maharaj for 65.
Chahar scored 54 off 34 and Yadav made 39 but India fell just short of finding the winning runs, as their last four wickets fell in the final four overs. India 283 all-out.
Phehlukwayo 3/40; Ngidi 3/58
de Kock was named Player of the Match as well as Player of the Series for his 229 runs in three matches.
RESULT: South Africa won by 4 runs (3-0)
Despite not being expected to win one, let alone both series’, defeat to India would have dealt a hammer blow to an already ailing Cricket South Africa.
Prior to the ODI series, Proteas head coach Mark Boucher was charged with gross misconduct by CSA after the former wicketkeeper-batsman was named and shamed, together with former captain and current director of cricket Graeme Smith, during the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings last year.
Boucher is facing dismissal from his current role, with the disciplinary hearings set to commence in the coming weeks.
In the aftermath to the Test series defeat Virat Kohli stepped down as India’s Test captain, which comes just months after the player relinquished his role as Team India's one-day skipper. Kohli led his country in 68 Test matches, of which India won 40 (59 per cent win-rate).
Under Kohli's tutelage, India emerged victorious on their most recent outbound tours of Australia in 2020-21 and England in August-September last year, however the men from the subcontinent remain in search of a first-ever Test series triumph on South African soil.
Going on concurrently to India’s tour of South Africa was the Ashes series down under in Australia. The previous edition of Test cricket's greatest rivalry came back in August-September 2019, when the series in England was drawn 2-2.
In the 1st Test at the Gabba in Brisbane, England skipper Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat first.
Mitchell Starc struck on the very first delivery of the series, with Rory Burns bowled for a golden duck, and this the first sign of what was to come.
Root, too, went for a doughnut and England quickly collapsed, losing their opening four wickets for 29 runs inside 13 overs. Four England batsman scored above 20, and two above 30, with the remainder removed for single digits. Jos Buttler top-scored for the visitors with 39 and Ollie Pope added 35. England bowled out for 147 in 50.1 overs on day 1.
It was a tale of two captains on the opening day. Cummins notched a five-wicket haul in his first outing as Aussies skipper, whilst Root went for a duck. Cummins took 5/38 while Starc and Josh Hazlewood claimed two scalps apiece. Young paceman Cameron Green picked up his first Test wicket for Australia.
David Warner was fantastic as he contributed 94 runs, while Marnus Labuschagne scored 74 runs with him and Warner sharing a 156-run 2nd-wicket partnership.
Travis Head was then at the forefront of Australia’s defence and he bagged a century from just 85 balls, the joint-third fastest in Ashes history.
While Head went through seven partnerships, only Starc could contribute a worthwhile return of 35 runs. Head made it to 152 when he was bowled by Mark Wood, the tenth and final Australia batsman to fall. Australia 425 all-out, leading England by 278 runs.
Ollie Robinson 3/58; Wood 3/85
Chris Woakes 2/76
England's opening pair lasted considerably longer than in the 1st innings, as Burns and Haseeb Hameed got 23 runs on the board before Cummins got rid of Burns for 13. Hameed went for 27.
Dawid Malan and Root raised a 3rd-wicket partnership of 162 runs as both batsmen reached into the 80s before their respective dismissals within 16 balls of one another with England on 229/4.
Ben Stokes, Buttler, Pope and Woakes added a combined 57 runs between them, while Robinson made 8 and Wood 6. England all-out for 297, leading Australia by 19 runs.
Nathan Lyon 4/91
Green 2/23; Cummins 2/51
Despite losing Alex Carey in the fifth over, it was fairly straightforward for the Aussies as they chased 20 runs shortly after to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
POTM: T Head (152)
RESULT: Australia won by 9 wickets (1-0)
The 2nd instalment was a day/night Test match in Adelaide, where Australia made two enforced changes with Cummins and Hazlewood ruled out. Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson came in for the absent pair. England recalled veteran pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who replaced Wood and Jack Leach.
With Cummins unavailable, Steve Smith inherited captaincy duties for Australia and the former permanent skipper won the toss and chose to bat.
Broad took out Aussie opener Marcus Harris in the eighth over, but the trio of Warner (95), Labuschagne (103) and Smith (93) drove the hosts to 385/6 by the time all three had been dismissed.
The 2nd-wicket stand between Warner and Labuschagne peaked at 172 runs.'
Carey added 51, Starc 39, and Neser 35 as Australia declared on 473/9.
Both of England's opening batsmen were removed early on, with the visiting team 12/2 inside seven overs. Root and Malan's 138-run partnership got England to the 150-mark before Root fell to Green on 62. Malan ended on 80.
England's resistance was broken and they were bowled out for 236, trailing by 237 runs.
In Australia's 2nd innings, Warner was run out for 13 and Harris made 23 before he was caught behind by Buttler. Labuschagne and Head scored 51 runs apiece while Green ended on 33 not-out.
Australia declared on 230/9, setting England a target of 468 to level the series.
Root 2/27; Malan 2/33
England barely put up a fight with just a single batsman scoring above 35 runs. Hameed was gone inside two overs and the onslaught as England found themselves five wickets down for 86 runs. The remaining wickets went for 106 runs as England were bowled out for 192.
Starc 2/43; Lyon 2/55
POTM: M Labuschagne (103 & 51)
RESULT: Australia won by 275 runs (2-0)
The 3rd Test started on Boxing Day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with both sides making changes to their lineups. Cummins returned to lead the Aussies, and 32-year-old Scott Boland was called up for his Test debut, with the pair replacing Neser and Richardson.
For England, Zak Crawley came in for Burns, and Bairstow for Pope. Bowlers Leach and Wood were restored to the XI for Broad and Woakes.
Cummins won the toss and opted to field first and the Australia captain knew exactly what he was doing. Hameed was gone for a duck in the second over, and Crawley knocked 12 before he went in the eighth.
Root's half-ton was as good as it got for England, with eight batsmen out for 25 runs or less. Bairstow scored 35. England 185 all-out.
Cummins 3/36; Lyon 3/36
Warner was the first to fall, and nightwatchman Lyon was the next to go with Australia 76/2. Harris top-scored with 76, with no other Aussie batters coming to the party. Six batsmen scored less than 20. Australia all-out for 267, leading by 82 runs.
Robinson 2/64; Wood 2/71
England then underwent an utterly calamitous collapse at the MCG, which included four ducks and nine single-digit scores. Root and Stokes top-scored with 28 & 11 runs, respectively.
England bowled out for 68. Boland took an outstanding six wickets for just seven runs.
POTM: S Boland (1/48 & 6/7)
RESULT: Australia won by an innings and 14 runs (3-0)
The 4th Test in Sydney was interrupted by wet weather which was ultimately a lifeline for England to avoid a series whitewash. One change for Australia as Usman Khawaja took the spot of Head. The away team also made one change with Broad in for Robinson. Ollie Pope replaced the injured Buttler during the match.
Australia once again won the toss and Cummins chose to bat first.
Warner scored 30, Harris 38, and Labuschagne 28 to put England on 117 runs at three wickets down. Khawaja and Smith then put on a 115-run 4th-wicket stand before Smith was out for 67. Khawaja was the last Australia wicket to fall, and the 35-year-old ended on 137. Australia declared 416/8.
England were four wickets down for 36 runs inside 22 overs, as Root got a duck, Malan 3, Hameed 6 and Crawley 18.
Bairstow and Stokes delivered a strong 128-run partnership from 176 deliveries, which ended when Lyon trapped Stokes lbw for 66. Bairstow brought up his hundred and continued to 113 before he became the penultimate wicket to fall. England 294 all-out, trailing by 122 runs.
Cummins 2/68; Lyon 2/88
Warner departed for 12 at the end of the sixth over, while fellow opener Harris went for 27 at the start of the 19th over. Labuschagne and Smith contributed 29 & 23 runs, respectively, but Khawaja saved the day with his second century of the match. Green added a commendable knock of 74 as Cummins declared on 265/6, leaving England to score 387 runs for the win.
With the rain restricting the number of overs left in the final day, England were quite happy to play for a draw. Australia, meanwhile, were not letting it slide that easily as Cummins and his men were going all in for victory.
Crawley scored 77 runs, but other than Stokes (60) and Bairstow (41), no other England batters pulled their weight. The visitors scored just 13 runs in the final seven overs of the match, as they were far more concerned about defending their wicket than they were scoring runs.
Australia needed one wicket in the last two overs but England managed to hold them off despite a flurry of Australian fielders in the close vicinity of the striker's end.
Lyon 2/28; Cummins 2/80
POTM: U Khawaja (137 & 101*)
RESULT: Match Drawn (3-0)
The 5th and final Test in the 2021/22 Ashes came from Hobart, the second day/night match of the series. Australia recalled Head in place of Harris, with double-centurion Khawaja retaining his place. Pope came in for Bairstow, and Sam Billings filled in for Buttler behind the stumps. Robinson and Woakes were picked over Anderson and Wood.
For the first time in the series, England won the toss and Root chose to field first.
Australia had an unusually slow start, going three wickets down in the opening 10 overs. Warner was dismissed without scoring while Khawaja was on 6 when he was caught by Root in the slips, off Broad's bowling. Smith went for a second-ball duck with Australia 12/3 and in need of a savior.
Enter, Travis Head. The left-handed batsman returned to the fold after a break in the penultimate Test, and spearheaded two partnerships to power Australia through into the 200s. Labuschagne hit 41 runs while Head celebrated his second century of the series, before he went out for 101.
For the second time in as many matches, Green put in a top performance with bat in hand and the 22-year-old put in a knock of 74 runs before he was disposed of by Wood. Lyon scored 31 late on to get Australia past 300, but was bowled out by Broad. Australia 303 all-out. Broad 3/59; Wood 3/115
Robinson 2/24; Woakes 2/64
Australia responded emphatically with the run-out of the returning Burns who scored a duck, not for the first time in the series. Fellow opener Crawley made 18 before Cummins sent him back to the changerooms. Malan and Root mustered a 3rd-wicket stand of 49 runs but both were soon dismissed by Cummins.
Woakes and Billings added a joint 65 runs but it was not enough to stop England from being bowled out for 188 in 48 overs, trailing Australia by 115 runs. Cummins 4/45
England were in desperate need of salvation and they got two early wickets, with Warner gone in the opening over and Labuschagne in the fourth. Australia failed to get goin and they lost Khawaja for 11, Smith for 27, and Head for 8.
With Australia 63/6, Carey pushed his team past 150 just before he was caught behind for 49.
England bowled Australia all-out for 155, with the visitors needing 270 runs to record a consolation win.
England got off to a decent start as Burns and Crawley raised a 68-run opening stand before Burns was bowled by Green, who also claimed the scalps of Crawley and Malan soon after.
Root and Stokes did not make it work and they departed, respectively, for 11 & 5 runs. Pope and Woakes also scored 5 runs apiece, while the trio of Billings, Broad and Robinson scored 2 runs amongst themselves.
England bowled out for 124.
Head picked up awards for both Player of the Match and Player of the Series after he scored 357 runs across six innings', 22 runs more than teammate Labuschagne but in three innings' fewer than the South African-born batsman.
RESULT: Australia won by 146 runs (4-0)
Following the recent cricketing festivities, Australia have climbed to the summit of the ICC Test Rankings, as former top-ranked India dropped to third. South Africa moved up one spot to fifth, following an impressive home series win over India. New Zealand and England remain second and fourth, respectively.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins tops the Player Rankings for Test bowlers, ahead of Ravi Ashwin and Kagiso Rabada. Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne leads the ICC Test batters, with England skipper Joe Root in second and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson third.
At the ICC Awards last week, Root was announced as the Men's ICC Test Cricketer of the Year, while Pakistan one-day captain Babar Azam was declared the Men's ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year.
In upcoming international cricket, Australia and New Zealand are set to contest three ODIs and one T20I beginning 30 January, after which the Black Caps return home to host South Africa for two Test matches in February.
Thereafter New Zealand and Australia resume battle with three more T20Is in March.
England are currently engaged in a tour of the Caribbean, where they have so far contested two T20I matches against the West Indies, with another three still on the horizon in addition to three Test matches in March.