England v Australia, 4th ODI, The Oval June 30, 2010

Clarke and Harris star in consolation win

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Australia 290 for 5 (Clarke 99*, Ponting 92) beat England 212 (Yardy 57, Harris 5-32) by 78 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

There will be no clean-sweep for England. It was too late to save the series but Australia's batsmen, led by Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, finally delivered a total their bowlers could defend at The Oval. Ryan Harris did just that, with five wickets and a Man-of-the-Match award, that handed England a 78-run defeat and offset any disappointment for Clarke, who earlier had been stranded on 99 in setting up Australia's 290 for 5.

Australia's win will restore a little pride for the visitors, but mostly they will be pleased that a 0-5 result is no longer possible. England's eight-game winning streak, stretching back to their tour of South Africa in November, ended with a bowling display that was just slightly off the mark, and Australia's underperforming batsmen seized their opportunity.

James Anderson had mastered the yorker earlier in the series but here he fell short too often; in one case comically so as he pitched the ball about a metre in front of his feet. Tim Bresnan has struggled to contain over the past week and did so again, and the spinners Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy were driven into the deep with ease and patience by Ponting and Clarke.

Fittingly it was the captain and vice-captain who combined for a 155-run stand and lifted the experienced batting group to their best total of the series. Against an attack energised by Shaun Tait and led by Harris, who collected his third five-wicket haul in a 16-game career, England found their task too great. They had several men who looked capable of guiding the chase, but each fell before he could create major headaches for Ponting.

There was Strauss, who punched his way to 37 before Tait's pace and late swing drew an edge behind. There was Kevin Pietersen, who in six balls looked the most destructive he has in the series, with two boundaries and another denied by the stumps at the non-striker's end. He was upset to be lbw to Harris advancing down the pitch, but the umpire's decision was sound.

And there was Eoin Morgan, who treated half-volleys from James Hopes with disdain and lifted him over the boundary three times. When Morgan edged behind off Harris for 47, the life drained from the contest. A late 57 from Yardy sparked minor interest from the crowd, but with the required run-rate hovering above nine, it was all too much.

England did have their misfortune - Paul Collingwood was wrongly given lbw to a Steven Smith legbreak that would have missed a fourth stump - but the result was set up when their bowlers couldn't restrict Australia. Neither Ponting (92) nor Clarke were rewarded with a century, but they got their job done.

Clarke's milestone was tantalisingly close. A single off the first ball of the 50th over took him to 99 and he watched on as an in-form Smith faced the rest of the over, leaving Clarke as the ninth player in ODI history to remain unbeaten one short of a hundred, and the third Australian after Dean Jones and Brad Hodge.

Although he again struggled to be the boundary man in the final stages, Clarke's overall effort was his most positive and fluent in limited-overs cricket for some time, and he made Anderson pay for dropping him at cover on 5. A pair of boundaries off Anderson soon afterwards, one over cover and one through the leg side, gave Clarke confidence and he kept the scoreboard ticking over throughout his stand with Ponting.

For his part, the captain was in excellent touch and was at his best driving off the back foot through the off side with terrific timing. The scratchiness he showed three days ago at Old Trafford was eradicated as he swept with self-assurance and refused to allow pressure to build through the middle overs.

Ponting seemed to be headed for a century when he called the batting Powerplay at the start of the 43rd over but from its first ball, he was caught at cover trying to clear the infield off Anderson. Ponting was gone for 92 off 93 balls, but he had given Australia an excellent platform. His must-win attitude was obvious the moment Shane Watson holed out for 41, giving away another strong start.

Watson pinpointed Morgan on the midwicket boundary with a slog-sweep off Swann and as he bowed his head in disappointment, he felt the eyes of his partner Ponting staring at him from the middle of the pitch. This was not what Watson had in mind when he spoke before the match of playing a big innings, and nor was it what the captain was expecting.

In the end it didn't matter. Australia did enough to prevent a whitewash, and will aim to pull the score back to a respectable 3-2 at Lord's on Saturday.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SOLUTE on July 1, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    i hear some say it was a dead rubber.eng vs aus match has never been dead rub.please read history that gave birth to ashes,then ask yourself was it a dead rubber? i think you will get your answer.the point that punter scores in dead rubber is absolute rubbish. it wasn't a dead rubber for him.imagine if aus lose ,then it would have 4-0.sreeni2507 rightly pointed those brilliant innings he played.there are many more which were not dead rubber's.if you feel they were dead rubber's,then he captained in 219 odi's, more than 75% win record,undefeated in 2 world cups,most wins by any player whether in odi or test,most wins as a captain wheher in test or odi and many more.are all these matches dead rubber's?if still you feel yes,please stop watching cricket,no no,rather don't watch any& stick to cartoon networks.it's best.if his batting fails,his captaincy always speaks that's why he is there for past 8yrs a captain is as best as his him. a good team without good captain is always is useles

  • sreeni2507 on July 1, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    to all those who criticized punter,Was 140 in 2003 vs india a dead rubber 164 vs South Africa a dead rubber 128 vs England in last year's Semis a dead rubber?

  • Fan84 on July 1, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    The Aussies are always know for defending the their totals iam really thrilled and happy to see ponting's decision to bat first under any circumstances,, his boys do the rest, i feel very glad, if aussies team has five fastes bowlers like TAIT, MICT, LEE, NANNES and SIDDLE.. and batsmen like WATSON, WARNER ,WHITE HUSSEY,PONTING, and HADDIN,, what a team it makes,, pls don't talk bad about PONTING,.. don't you guys rememeber how rapid he played during their record tiotal against south africa,,

  • Godfather007 on July 1, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    Well again this match was the testimony of the fact that Ponting scores runs in only dead rubbers which are of only academic interest.By doing so two purposes are served, one is he improves his averages & secondly he fools the world around him.Mr Ponting everbody knows u piled easy runs when u were circumscribed by legends & when the time came to deliver u buckled under pressure........why didn't u make those 92 runs in any of the previous 3 matches................. because for u pressure is toooooooo hotttttt to handle.Please hang up ur boots & give chance to a worthy contender like Simon Katich who can contribute some valuable runs. Though England have won the series but this match should be a WAKE UP CALL for them.They can't even think of reaching the semifinals(forget about winning)of WC 2011 with only 5 specialist batsman.Ian bell should come in for Luke Wright......I'm eager to see his new attacking approach.And once Freddie is fit replace him with Tim Bresnan.

  • TinyPop on July 1, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    Confidence is good, Arrogance is never appreciated, Reminding Colly about the comments he made few days ago. Never underestimate the Aussie Cricket force. They are brilliant always. They got rid of the abrasive behaviour and sledging to a good extend, but they are professionals still. England has got a long way to go.

  • Aussasinator on July 1, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    Clarke and his captain Ponting seem to revel in dead rubbers to score heavily and not when it matters. it happened in the Test series against West Indies too. Ponting didnt contribute to Australia's decisive victories but helped himself to a double century in the last, inconsequential Test. But Clarke is a better player under pressure than his skipper and has a lot to contribute. He seems confused though.

  • Samdanh on July 1, 2010, 7:08 GMT

    I am sorry to see the bulleting writers missing to write about wrong decisions that went against Australia (so far 4 of them in this series, 3 of them in the 3rd match that England scraped to win by 1 wicket) but do care not to miss writing about a single decision that went against England in the 4th match. I expect Cricinfo writers to be professional and neutral when they write bulletins. Congrats Austalia for the comprehensive win

  • dummy4fb on July 1, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    Nice training run out, good for the batsmen to show a bit of spine and give the english bowlers a workout for a change. Let the Aussies win a dead rubber and don't risk any injuries. Job done.

  • 68704 on July 1, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    Australia played the way they have been playing for several years now. Bat first, put runs on the board, choke the opposition and make the asking rate over 7, somthing that they just could not do in the first three games. It helped too that the OVal wicket is more like the ones in Australia and it helped too that Ponting and Clarke batted the way we know they can bat. Australia is still not close to one hundred per cent, Shaun Marsh should get a game and Payne bat in the middle order with perhaps Hopes taking a rest. I wonder if Watson is fit enough to bowl. I think England;s batting is too dependent on Morgan. Pietersens last year or so in limited overs cricket has been ordinary to say the least and some of the other Englishmen like Kiesweter and Wright are overrated and perhaps this is as good an indication of what England is likely to face in Australia, big totals and they must certainly rethink their strategy of putting the opposition in mechanically. Just ask Ganguly sridhar .

  • _Australian_ on July 1, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    A better effort by the upper order. Still I think we could do with Clarke or White moving to opener. I don't understand Australia's obsession with having a keeper/opener. Paine or Haddin when fit would be better served comming in down the order. Hopes has to go. I would prefer to see even a rusty Mitch Johnson in his place for the last game.

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