Australia seal another easy success
Australia 2 for 246 (Ponting 82*, Gilchrist 60, Clarke 57*) beat England 8 for 242 (Pietersen 82, Flintoff 47*, Bracken 3-46) by 8 wickets
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Australia's perfect home summer continued with England's tour of woe as Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting set up a crushing eight-wicket victory in the opening CB Series game. If England expected any relief after the Ashes whitewash and the Twenty20 demolition they were severely disappointed and they managed to leave the MCG with more severe bruises.
Kevin Pietersen felt the most pain after receiving a cracked rib from Glenn McGrath, which ruled him out of the rest of the series, and Andrew Flintoff suffered further on a demoralising trip by giving up 11 runs of wides in the opening over of their defence.
The Australian team does not need such generous donations and Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden piled on the misery during a 101-run opening stand that ended in the 16th over. Despite picking up both openers quickly, England barely had time to celebrate their minor achievements before Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke fulfilled their roles in an unbeaten 125-run partnership that earned the success with 4.4 overs remaining. The result continues their impressive winning streak over the past two months and gives Michael Vaughan an understanding of what lies ahead.
Vaughan won the toss in his first ODI for 18 months as he returned from a serious knee injury, but it was one of the few highs during a disappointing contest. "When it rains it pours," Vaughan said. Pietersen made a courageous half-century and England reached 8 for 242 with help from Flintoff, who returned to form to belt 47 from 38 balls. England's best player of the Test series continued his strong performances, but Pietersen's desire to dominate McGrath led to the end of his tour.
Attempting to force the pace, Pietersen was on 73 when he charged the bowler - it was a popular tactic during the Ashes - and attempted to swivel the ball to the legside. He missed, was almost bent in half by the impact and collapsed to the ground out of his crease. He returned to safety swiftly, spent a couple of minutes with the team medical staff and was taken for a scan after his dismissal that revealed more bad news.
The blow troubled him as he continued his innings and he fell to a slightly mistimed heave to deep mid-on for 82 from 91 balls. Pietersen arrived with England needing a boost after Vaughan's departure for an encouraging 26 and he provided it once he settled. He registered his fifty with a six over mid-off from White, who he later pounded for two rope clearances in consecutive balls, and combined with Paul Collingwood (43) for a crucial 95-run partnership from the discomfort of 3 for 73.
Flintoff built on their gains with a bright contribution after struggling during the Tests. With Vaughan in charge he was able to relax with the bat, although he did not enjoy the same feeling with the ball. While Nathan Bracken's three wickets and two each to McGrath and Mitchell Johnson combined for a fine home-team performance, England struggled from the opening exchanges.
It was Flintoff who had a strong say in his side's early lack of direction when he started the second innings with a spray of 11 runs, none of which came from the bat. His first ball was a wide and another two went for five wides when they were not intercepted by Paul Nixon, the debutant wicketkeeper.
Australia were showing off a new uniform in baggy-green colours and the opening batsmen made sure the first outing was as successful as the previous five Tests under the famous cap. Gilchrist and Hayden sped away during the stand that quickly downgraded England's total from testing to easy.
Gilchrist pounded a string of boundaries in front of the wicket during his 60 - the six he launched over long-on off Flintoff was the best - as England's hopes of a first win drowned. Benefiting from sloppy early bowling, Gilchrist took advantage while the start was slower for Hayden, who returned to the team after missing the Champions Trophy when Shane Watson was preferred.
Hayden edged Monty Panesar on 28 and Gilchrist finished with seven fours from his 61 balls in an innings that ended when he nicked Jamie Dalrymple. Ponting made sure the loss of his two frontmen was barely a blip and he eased the side to victory with an impressive 82 off 96 balls. Clarke's 57 not out was a useful contribution alongside his captain as a new tournament started with an old result.
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo