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English cricket in despair after Ashes humiliation

Only one week into 2014 and English cricket is already in despair after the national team was humiliated by archrival Australia in the traditional Ashes series.

Australia sealed only the third 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes' 130-year history on Sunday, winning the fifth test in Sydney by 281 runs with more than two days to spare. Daily Telegraph columnist and former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott called it "one of the most depressing and humiliating days for English cricket" while BBC commentator Jonathan Agnew said the players "looked mentally shot, there must be a sense of 'thank goodness it's all over.'"

Before the series, one bookmaker gave 100-1 odds of Australia winning 5-0 against England, which had been undefeated in a test match in 2013 and had won the previous three Ashes series. Overconfidence from fans and players alike turned to shock and resignation as the tourists collapsed in every match — without the chance of being saved by some traditional English rain.

The statistics were certainly not flattering for England. Sunday was the sixth time in 10 innings this series that England had failed to make 200 runs. It was the first ever five-match test series where every England wicket was taken. England tried out 17 different players; Australia kept the same lineup throughout.

The 5-0 sweep emulated only two other Australian triumphs in the Ashes — Warwick Armstrong's 1920-21 team and that of Ricky Ponting in 2006-07. England won a six-match series 5-1 in 1978-79. England captain Alastair Cook took responsibility for the defeat but wants to remain in charge.

"There's anger in me and frustration because for whatever reason we haven't played very well, and the buck stops with me," Cook said. "I am desperate to try and turn it around. I feel as if I am the right man to do it."

One thing's for certain: there will be no victory stamps issued by Britain's Royal Mail. In 2005, when England won the Ashes for the first time since 1987, the triumph was depicted on the 68 pence stamp — the cost at the time of sending a letter to Australia.

Keiran Smith in Sydney, Australia contributed to this report.

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