Tait powers Australia to 42-run victory
Australia 277 for 7 (Hussey 79, Marsh 59, Broad 4-64, Swann 3-32) beat England 235 (Collingwood 95, Tait 4-48) by 42 runs
Shaun Tait broke the 100mph mark for the first time and shattered England's batting line-up to ensure Australia ended their lost series on a positive note, with a 42-run win at Lord's. Paul Collingwood's 95 raised English hopes as they recovered from a shaky start in their chase of 278, but when Tait rattled Collingwood's stumps England's 3-2 series scoreline was all but settled.
For most of Australia's innings, England were in a strong position but Michael Hussey and Shaun Marsh exploded with 115 runs in the final ten overs to set a challenging target. By the time Tait bowled Andrew Strauss and Michael Yardy in a furiously quick four-over opening spell, England's chase was wobbling, and when they crashed to 73 for 5 they looked to be finished.
Steadily, Collingwood guided them back into the match with help from Luke Wright and Tim Bresnan, and they needed 85 from the last ten overs with four wickets in hand. A direct-hit from Ricky Ponting sent Bresnan on his way for 34 and two balls later Collingwood advanced to Tait and was bowled, and despite some power hitting from Graeme Swann England couldn't recover from their early setbacks.
Fittingly, Tait (4 for 48) finished the job when he had Swann caught at mid-off. When he struck twice in his third over, England were 19 for 2, and as impressive as his speed was the outswing he generated. Strauss's off stump went cartwheeling towards the keeper and Yardy, promoted to No. 3 due to Kevin Pietersen's thigh strain, had two sighters from Tait before one that he appeared to barely see at all. The ball pitched on line and straightened, Yardy inexplicably left it alone and felt it ricochet off his pad onto the stumps.
Tait's first over set the tone, when he sent down a 161.kph (100.1mph) delivery to Craig Kieswetter. It was the quickest on record by an Australian, beating Brett Lee's 160.8kph effort in Napier in 2005, and marginally short of the all-time record holder Shoaib Akhtar, who hit 161.3kph during the 2003 World Cup. When Tait rested, wickets kept falling. Ryan Harris, Steven Smith and James Hopes all chipped in and of the top six, only Collingwood and Kieswetter (11) reached double figures.
Australia's top order found it just as hard to score runs and laboured to 74 for 2 from 20 overs. The turnaround came from Hussey and Marsh, who was only called up because Michael Clarke was suffering a sore back. Marsh launched Stuart Broad straight back over his head for a six and runs suddenly started to flow at the 39-over mark.
It was Marsh's first ODI since February and he thrived in the unfamiliar No. 5 position until he holed out to deep extra cover for 59 from 50 balls. But while a confident Hussey remained at the crease, England could not relax. Hussey's 79 was his first major contribution of the series and it was a typical Hussey one-day innings. There were a couple of sixes over midwicket and square leg but generally he picked the gaps and hared through for quick singles and twos if he couldn't find the boundary.
The tempo change was necessary after Tim Paine ground his way to his first half-century of the series. He took 90 balls for his 54 before he tried to reverse sweep against the spin of Swann and it was an ill-judged stroke; the ball turned too sharply, clipped his gloves and rebounded onto the stumps.
Swann also tempted Cameron White, who was caught in the deep for 20, and finished with 3 for 32. While he enjoyed the spoils in the middle overs, it was the fast men who restricted Australia in the early stages. James Anderson and Bresnan repeatedly whizzed the ball past the outside edge of Paine and Shane Watson with quality swing bowling before the first-change man Broad made inroads.
Broad (4 for 64) delivered an aggressive spell with plenty of bouncers that rattled several of Australia's batsmen. Shane Watson (14) mistimed a pull and was caught at mid-on, Paine was lucky to survive a sharp bouncer that he lobbed towards gully and Ponting fell to an ugly attempted hook that he gloved through to the wicketkeeper.
Fortunately for Australia, they had Tait to fall back on, and his speeds have set up an interesting showdown with Akhtar in this week's Twenty20s at Edgbaston. England's next challenge is a one-day series against Bangladesh, and while they would have preferred a sharper performance at Lord's, a 3-2 result is still a fine way to begin their summer.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo