England's batsmen not learning
It was groundhog day for Andrew Strauss. Another far-from-daunting one-day chase was scuppered as England's top-order handed their wickets to Australia and this time there was no lower-order rally to get the scoreline close. This was a weaker display than on Friday at The Oval, as the home side fell from 74 without loss to lose all 10 wickets for 136, leaving Strauss to admit it wasn't good enough.
"Being 70-odd for nought we were in a great position to really come home quite comfortably but to a certain extent we were the architects of our own downfall," he said. "Three reasonably soft wickets in a short space of time and suddenly we're in that situation where you're asking the bowlers to score runs for you, which is not really what we want to be doing."
Strauss admitted he was one of the culpable batsmen, chipping a return catch to Nathan Hauritz for 47, and there was also the mix-up between Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah, although he played down the significance of Shah's latest run out. "Yes definitely. It was needless really, that's disappointing," he said of his own dismissal. "From being in such a strong position it's disappointing to suddenly be down four wickets a couple of overs later, good sides won't do that very often."
"At the start of an innings sometimes he [Shah] can be nervy and maybe that leads to those sort of things but once he's in, he's fine. I don't think it's something we really need to target with him, but it's generally not something we're looking for as a batting unit."
England have had one half-century so far in the series - Collingwood reaching 56 as he tried to marshal the run chase at Lord's - but Matt Prior is the only one of the top six to fall in single figures. A lack of significant scores has long been a problem in England's one-day performances (and Kevin Pietersen's absence has removed one of the few with a reputation of getting hundreds) leaving them struggling to stay in the series.
"Everyone's got a start in the two games but no one's gone on so I don't think it's a lack of confidence," Strauss said. "Maybe we just haven't been smart enough in what our percentage shots are and we've just been a little bit soft in our dismissals. I firmly believe your top six have got to score the bulk of your runs in one-day cricket and we haven't done that for the last couple of games."
When Collingwood fell to seal the defeat, England were just two overs into their batting Powerplay having delayed taking it as wickets were lost. Both sides have opted to take their five overs late in the innings, but while it worked for Australia as Mitchell Johnson cut loose, England were nine-down when theirs was finally signalled.
"You want to take it at a time where you've got freedom to go out and play and not worry too much about losing wickets," Strauss said. "So in my view it's got to be in the latter half of the game, but when you lose a lot of wickets early it generally gets pushed further and further back. That's not ideal really. You don't want to necessarily be taking the last five overs but we were kind of forced into that given that we lost wickets at regular intervals."
The other significant talking point was the omission of Adil Rashid following his impressive performance with bat and ball at The Oval. The withdrawal of Stuart Broad with a neck injury left England concerned about their batting line-up so Eoin Morgan was drafted into the middle order.
"It was not an ideal situation to be in because he bowled so well and he showed so many encouraging signs," Strauss admitted. "To a certain extent we were slightly hamstrung by the fact that Stuart wasn't fit and our batting was probably a bit weaker.
"And we didn't actually think it was going to turn very much. It probably turned more than we thought it was going to. But the seamers did a good job, our bowlers did a very good job, 249 was very chaseable and I thought it was a very flat wicket. To be honest, the batsmen have got to hold up their hands and say we weren't good enough." We've heard that somewhere before.
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo