ENGLAND captain Andrew Flintoff admitted Australia had proved too good after his side conceded the Ashes today just 462 days after winning them.
England were beaten by 206 runs in the third Test in Perth - despite a superb fourth century for his country yesterday by Alastair Cook - to fall 3-0 behind in the five-match series.
Flintoff said: "Obviously 3-0 down with three Tests played is not ideal. We played well in some of the Test but Australia have not allowed us to come back.
"We tried to apply pressure but every time we tried to do that Australia came back hard at us.
"It has not quite come off for us. It's not been through lack of trying or lack of effort."
Flintoff hit back at criticism that England's preparation for the series had been inadequate.
He said: "I think we prepared well. Most of the lads were in India for four to five weeks.
"The lads were happy, there are no excuses on that front."
England, and particularly coach Duncan Fletcher, have also come in for heavy criticism over team selection. Both Ashley Giles and Geraint Jones, who were controversially selected for the series, failed to impress.
Flintoff added: "Duncan copped a little bit but all the lads are behind him, the team is behind him. It would be nice if everyone else was too."
Cook and Ian Bell delayed Australia's victory celebrations with some defiant batting yesterday while Flintoff hit a half-century today, but Australia wrapped up the win two balls after lunch.
Flintoff said: "Australia played really well in this Test, but we have still got two to play and we will play for pride.
"Our team has a lot of pride. We want to enjoy Christmas and come back strong. The lads want to give a good account and I want to give a good account as captain."
Fletcher felt England had a side good enough to retain the Ashes but Australia's experience ultimately won out.
Fletcher said: "I felt in these three games we did compete. Adelaide was close and we competed in this Test.
"We had a few opportunities but we didn't grab them. Australia, with their experience, did."
Fletcher also felt England had prepared as well as they could.
"We have been playing nine months non-stop. People thought it was a ridiculous contract going up to the World Cup. We had just two weeks off and now those same people are saying we need more cricket."
On selection, Fletcher added: "It's the hardest part of cricket and it's always judged in hindsight. As long as there are more ups than downs it's all right."