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England look to wrap up Ashes after Australia demolition

By Paul Armstrong, CNN
updated 4:01 AM EDT, Mon July 22, 2013
Joe Root (L) celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Usman Khawaja on the fourth day of the second Test.
Joe Root (L) celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Usman Khawaja on the fourth day of the second Test.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • England romped to a 347-run victory with a day left to spare
  • Australia set a huge target of 583 runs to chase for victory in second Test
  • The home side have now taken a 2-0 lead in the five-match Ashes series
  • England's Joe Root was named Man of the Match after his 180

(CNN) -- It was fitting for England that their most emphatic Ashes Test win on home soil took place at the spiritual home of cricket.

With a day and three balls of the match to spare at Lord's, England ruthlessly exposed the shortcomings of Australia, their traditional cricketing nemesis, as they romped to a 347-run victory.

Their 2-0 lead in the five-match series suggests the famous little urn looks odds on to remain in England. But more troubling for the tourists, who enjoyed almost total supremacy against the English not so long ago, is the belief among many cricket writers and pundits that a series whitewash is a very real prospect.

Writing from an Australian perspective in the Sydney Morning Herald, Malcolm Knox likened the match to a B-grade horror movie:

"Real-life shark experts' have reassured audiences that 'Sharknado,' a film in which man-eaters devour people after being deposited into their midst by a massive storm and flood, is 'fantasy'," he said.

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"It was a relief to hear that such an imbalance between predator and helpless victim lacks plausibility. It gave rise to hopes that the made-for-cable schlockfest at Lord's over the past four days might also be declared, by real-life something experts, as the work of an underpaid imagination."

Unfortunately for Australian cricket fans, Sunday's result was no fantasy.

Never slow to seize an opportunity to rub salt into the wound, the English sports press "lamented" the end of a cricketing dynasty. The BBC's Tom Fordyce pondered whether Australia's baggy greens are set for "years as underdogs," while former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott warned the "boot is on the other foot," though he conceded that total dominance is not necessarily a good thing.

"In some ways many of us England supporters want to see Australia thrashed 5-0 and then go to Australia this winter and beat them 5-0 in their own country," Boycott wrote in Britain's Telegraph. "In another way it is not good for cricket with such a traditional contest being so one-sided. It was not interesting when they were beating us and it is not so good now."

Yorkshire batsman Joe Root was rightly named as Man of the Match after hitting 180 in the second innings, leaving the Australians with a huge target of 583 runs to win the match. It was also the young opener's first century.

In another way it is not good for cricket with such a traditional contest being so one-sided. It was not interesting when they were beating us and it is not so good now.
Geoffrey Boycott

After losing early wickets in their quest to make inroads into England's whopping total, Australia showed a brief glimpse of their resilience of old, with Usman Khawaja and skipper Michael Clarke sharing a 98-run partnership on Sunday afternoon. But Root wasn't finished -- he demonstrated his aptitude with the ball as well as the bat by skittling both men out. Australia were eventually dismissed for 235, with Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan taking two wickets each.

Despite his side's obvious dominance, England captain Alistair Cook refused to entertain talk of a series whitewash.

"It's certainly too early for that," the 28-year-old opening batsman told reporters. "You only have to look at our dressing room to see how hard we've had to work to win these two games.

"We won't be taking anything for granted or taking our foot off the gas or looking past the first hour at Old Trafford -- that's not the way (England coach) Andy Flower works, that's not the way this England side works."

His opposite number, meanwhile, vowed to restore Australia's dignity after being mocked by suggesting his team could still win the series during the presentation ceremony at Lord's.

"I know a lot of the crowd laughed when I said that, and rightly so with the position we are in right now," said Clarke. "But all of our top order have made a fifty and we need someone who can go on and make a big hundred -- as England have done."

The teams face each in the third Test at Old Trafford in Manchester on Thursday, August 1.

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