(CNN) -- Indicating a resurgence of cricket prowess in the sport's homeland, England has trounced arch-rival Australia to retain "the Ashes," the most storied trophy in international cricket.
A dominant English team wrapped up the fourth so-called Test match in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday morning with an innings victory -- the most decisive manner of victory in cricket.
The win gives England a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five-game series being played during this southern hemisphere summer. With one of the earlier games having been indecisive and with only one Test match remaining, the worst England can do is finish the series 2-2 -- an outcome which would see England, as current holder of the Ashes, retain the trophy.
This is the first time in 24 years that England has won and then retained the Ashes in consecutive series of this every-two-year contest -- a rivalry that began in 1877, making it one of the oldest continuous rivalries in international sport.
England's crushing victory in this Fourth Test followed an equally overwhelming innings triumph in the Second Test in Adelaide earlier this month -- two of the most decisive victories England has scored against Australia in recent decades.
With the First Test having been a draw (meaning there was no winner), the Fifth and final Test in Sydney next month gives the determined and confident Englishmen a chance to register a 3-1 series triumph over an Australian team that appears less talented and spirited than the Aussie teams that have been a dominant power in international cricket for the past two decades.
The Ashes contest dates back to 1882, when Australia beat England in England for the first time and a British newspaper ran a tongue-in-cheek "obituary" saying cricket had died and the body would be cremated and the ashes sent to Australia.