Australia take series with 51-run win
Australia 249 (Clarke 54, Woakes 6-45) beat England 198 (Pietersen 40, Watson 3-25) by 51 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia secured the one-day series with two matches to spare after a comprehensive 51-run victory at the Gabba as England's batting once again flopped. The top order was rocked by the pace of Brett Lee, then John Hastings removed the key pair of Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell before the innings subsided rapidly to give Australia their first piece of silverware since March last year.
The hosts' innings had been far from problem-free but Michael Clarke registered a much-needed half-century, which was his first since the Adelaide Test. He fell to the Man of the Match Chris Woakes, who took 6 for 45, England's best overseas analysis in one-day internationals, but he was a lone shining light. Although the visitors have twice nudged 300 in the series - at Melbourne and Adelaide - there has been far too much inconsistency and soft dismissals.
Pietersen and Bell battled nicely to steady England from 3 for 22, but having been given a life on 34 when Steve Smith missed a return catch, Pietersen picked out mid-on as he tried to pull a Hastings slower ball. Eoin Morgan continued his poor series when he lofted his fourth ball to long-off against Smith, even though the required rate was below a run-a-ball. Morgan has struggled to live up to his reputation as a world-class finisher in the series after his extended period on the sidelines during the Ashes.
England's last real hope disappeared when Bell, who had been at his most fluent, dragged Hastings into his stumps. Shane Watson bagged two in his first over in front of an appreciative home crowd, who could put the troubles of the past month behind then at least for an evening. A record-last wicket stand of 53 between James Anderson and Steven Finn, on his ODI debut, only narrowed the margin and showed up the batsmen.
Australia's bowlers hunted as a unit and the one-day attack has most bases covered, even though Xavier Doherty was left out with a stiff back. Lee bowled with real venom early on, twice whistling rapid bouncers past Andrew Strauss's helmet and Doug Bollinger wasn't far behind when he struck Matt Prior in his opening over. But neither of England's openers wanted to back down and Prior responded with three boundaries against Bollinger. However, Lee was a different prospect and Prior lost his off stump when he tried to play square on the off side.
From the next delivery, the first ball of Bollinger's third over, Strauss picked out square leg with a pull and it became worse when Lee put himself on a hat-trick as Jonathan Trott flicked a delivery off his hip straight to short fine-leg. Although the hat-trick ball to Bell was a no-ball it was also a rapid bouncer and Australia were in no mood for this series to stay alive.
Even though their total proved plenty, it was a tale of missed opportunity as several batsmen made starts only to give their wickets away. Watson (16) cut to point and Brad Haddin (37) walked across his stumps to give Finn his first ODI wicket. Shaun Marsh (16) lazily flicked to midwicket and David Hussey chopped on against Woakes for 34, having set a platform alongside Clarke with a 65-run fifth-wicket stand. Cameron White couldn't do much about his dismissal as an excellent ball from Woakes bounced and took the edge.
Clarke's innings had three distinct phases. After being booed to the crease, he began with aggressive intent and moved to 17 off 13 balls, but then slowed considerably with 18 off his next 41 deliveries before driving Finn through cover. The fifty came from 70 balls but he couldn't carry on, top-edging Woakes while trying to work through the leg side on 54.
England were hampered in the closing overs when Ajmal Shahzad injured his hamstring and Johnson took 15 off his eighth over during the batting Powerplay. Smith and Hastings also cashed in as Finn was struck for 14 off his ninth but Woakes, who was preferred to Michael Yardy and struck three times in the first over of a spell, returned to have Hastings caught at deep midwicket to complete his five, after which Lee carved to third man.
Woakes' figures sit behind Collingwood's 6 for 31 against Bangladesh, at Trent Bridge in 2005, but they were a hollow success. England are now left with the task of avoiding a 6-1 scoreline to match the drubbing after the 2009 Ashes.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo