Lee propels Australia to facile victory
Australia 221 for 3 (Clarke 62*, Paine 51) beat England 220 (Strauss 63, Lee 5-49) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Brett Lee has wanted to prove a point in this series after missing the Ashes and did so in emphatic style as he claimed 5 for 49 to set up Australia's crushing seven-wicket victory, which gave them an unassailable 4-0 lead. After England folded to the pace of Lee for 220, Tim Paine made his first international half-century to set up the chase, then Michael Clarke helped himself to an unbeaten 62 as Australia cruised home with 38 balls to spare.
England were still handily placed on 146 for 3 when Lee, who removed Joe Denly in the fifth over, returned for a one-over spell before the mandatory ball change at 34 overs. His first delivery was a pinpoint yorker that was too much for Matt Prior, he finished with a wicket-maiden, and from there the innings nose-dived. However, it was Lee's last spell that was the most destructive as England's last five wickets fell for 20.
Lee was just too quick for four batsmen as he demolished the stumps with searing yorkers to complete the ninth five-wicket haul of his career. Nathan Hauritz also deserves huge credit for claiming two key wickets, including Strauss, and conceding just 23 runs from his 10 overs. In a pattern that has become eerily predictable, Andrew Strauss shone at the top with a neat 63, but once again his colleagues couldn't follow suit.
It was thrilling to watch Lee in full flow, an absent phenomenon during the Ashes series, as he uprooted the stumps of Luke Wright, Stuart Broad and Adil Rashid in the space of 15 balls. England's frustrations nearly boiled over when Owais Shah swung a full toss from Shane Watson to midwicket and stood his ground, believing the ball had been above waist height. Replays showed it was marginal, but England are far from a happy bunch.
There was barely a need for Australia to break sweat during their chase, although Watson's habit of falling lbw continued when he played across a delivery from Tim Bresnan. Paine cashed in on a couple of long hops from Rashid, who was introduced inside the Powerplays and struggled with his length to begin with, while Ricky Ponting eased back into his day job with two boundaries off Bresnan during a second-wicket stand of 57 in nine overs.
At times England's bowling was as ordinary as the batting, but to Rashid's credit he recovered somewhat from his loose start and removed Paine via a top-edged sweep. Ponting enjoyed what was little more than an extended net following his three-week lay-off - an ideal way to get himself back into the groove ahead of the Champions Trophy - until he drove Bresnan to cover, but Clarke eased to his half-century from 66 balls in the glorious late-summer sunshine.
Australia didn't bother to knock the runs off especially quickly on their last appearance at Lord's for the summer and the batting Powerplay was unused. The ground has brought mixed memories this year, but they will be back again in 2010 when they face Pakistan in a Test.
The pattern of England's efforts in this series has been uncanny - and not in a good way. Strauss dominated the scoring at The Rose Bowl, before he fell for 63 off 72 balls, and it was an almost identical situation here as he reached a 48-ball half century having won his fourth toss of the series. However, with Hauritz doing an impressive job in stifling the scoring rate - he had already removed Ravi Bopara - Strauss felt the need to try and increase the tempo, but only managed a thick outside-edge to short third man when England needed him to stay and score a hundred.
As he has done throughout the summer, Strauss looked in complete control. He took three fours in four balls off a wayward Nathan Bracken and had just the one awkward moment against Lee, when he got into a tangle against a short ball and gloved the delivery just wide of a diving Paine.
Bopara, demoted to No. 3 with Denly's recall, was also playing comfortably in a second-wicket stand of 67. However, Hauritz's introduction slowed England's progress and he made the breakthrough in his third over when Bopara was struck in line with off stump while sweeping to complete another unfulfilling innings.
England couldn't get Hauritz away - he conceded just a single boundary in his 10 overs - but again there was a lack of intent and the pressure told on Strauss as the run-rate dropped from over five to nearer four. In a smart piece of captaincy from Ponting, Hauritz was removed from the attack after nine overs to allow Lee a dart before the ball was changed at 34 overs with the result being Prior's demise.
Paine pulled off a swift leg-side stumping to remove Eoin Morgan and though ideally two batsmen need to set when the batting Powerplay is taken, England had little option to call theirs soon after Wright arrived as his role in the side is to hit boundaries. It started brightly as the first two overs brought 21, but Lee soon found his range and England were blown away. In every sense.
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo