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Australia vs England: Five things we learned from the ODI series
England fell to a resounding series defeat to Australia shortly after lifting the T20 World Cup.
England slumped to a 3-0 ODI series defeat against Australia after a record defeat in the final match in Melbourne.
The series followed England’s successful T20 World Cup campaign that saw them become the first team to hold both World Cups in white-ball cricket.
Here are five takeaways from the series.
Step too far for world champions England
The scheduling of the bilateral series raised eyebrows before a ball was bowled and a depleted England looked spent after their exertions in the T20 World Cup.
The series began four days after their success at the MCG and they couldn’t summon the sharpness and intensity that characterised their successful campaign.
England named a somewhat experimental squad with a mix of World Cup winners and others looking to use the series to force their way into contention.
Reflecting on the series, James Vince said: “The guys that have been here a while are looking forward to getting home and for us - yeah we’ve not had a huge amount of preparation.”
The defeat was resounding, but there is mitigation for England who have to juggle various priorities, including a first red-ball tour of Pakistan in 17 years next month.
“We tried out best, we fell a long way short,” said captain Jos Buttler. “I thought Australia outplayed us in every department. But lots to be proud of. We got exactly what we wanted from coming here.”
Roy fails to stake a claim
With only 13 more ODIs before Matthew Mott must name his World Cup squad, Jason Roy has done little to bolster his case for inclusion.
The opener has played 107 times for the one-day side and was a big part of England’s white-ball revival but was dropped for the T20 World Cup after a poor run of form.
His recall was testament to his reputation in the England set-up and it provided an opportunity for him to prove a torrid summer was merely a blip, but scores of 6, 0 and 33 followed and it is conceivable that he has played his last ODI for England.
He was twice dismissed by Mitchell Starc and the sight of his stumps splattered after being bowled by a booming inswinger from the left-armer in Adelaide will be the abiding memory.
England will welcome Jonny Bairstow back next year and Alex Hales could be brought back into the 50-over side as his rehabilitation into the side continues. Phil Salt and James Vince could also open.
Roy no longer looks a prolific run-scorer on the international stage. At 32 his time may be up.
Australia find replacement for Finch
The retirement of captain and destructive opener Aaron Finch from ODIs opened the door for Travis Head and the South Australian grasped his opportunity at the top of the order.
He put England’s bowlers to the sword with a magnificent 152 off 130 balls in the third match in Melbourne after making 69 and 19 earlier in the series.
The 269-run stand with David Warner at the MCG was their fourth century stand in ODIs and he looks a ready-made replacement for Finch with less than 12 months until the World Cup.
He will be determined to push on after narrowly missing out in 2019 and has certainly done his cause no harm after a productive return to the side.
“You can’t look too far ahead, there is a lot of cricket to come,” he said before the series. “I just want to start really well and play my role as best as I can.”
His best was more than good enough for a much-changed England and life after Finch is looking much brighter after Head’s heroics.
Smith is in ominous form
After being harshly overlooked for most of the T20 World Cup, Steve Smith enjoyed a fruitful ODI series on his return to the side.
The former Test captain followed up an unbeaten 80 in Adelaide with a high-class 94 in Sydney before falling for 21 in the final match.
Smith has endured a relatively lean spell with the bat in Tests in recent times, but he credits a technical adjustment in his set-up for his return to form.
He described his sterling innings in the series opener as “probably the best I’ve felt in about six years” ahead of a busy summer for Australia.
“I’ve been working on a few things, it’s almost been a six-month or 12-month process,” he added. “The start of last summer, I tried to get my hands back to where they were in 2015.”
He scored a century in his previous ODI innings before this series against New Zealand and has averaged 66.13 since the start of 2020.
Smith is looking back to his brilliant best ahead of the Australian Test summer, with an Ashes series in England and 50-over World Cup in India coming up next year.
Schedule continues to perplex
The international cricket schedule has caused consternation once again, with the series starting days after England’s successful World Cup campaign.
The games failed to capture the imagination in Australia, with fewer than 5,000 spectators inside the MCG to watch the hosts complete a whitewash over England.
Both sides rotated some of their star players with captains Jos Buttler and Pat Cummins both opting to sit out of one of the matches.
Attention now turns to Test cricket for both sides, but question marks remain about cricket’s scheduling crisis which is becoming unsustainable for cross-format players.
Speaking on BT Sport, former England bowler Steve Harmison said: “Our best players didn’t play in the games, four World Cup winners didn’t play in the first game, the two spin bowlers didn't play in the last game and the captain didn’t play in the second one.
“So from that point of view, [it’s been] meaningless cricket played in a meaningless way. [It was] fulfilling the fixtures, that’s all it did. Australia had to perform because they were poor at the World Cup. They didn’t qualify for [the knockout stage] of the World Cup.”