Andrew Strauss could only curse England's injury crisis as a shortage of bowling options meant a record-breaking batting effort went to waste at Sydney. The visitors were handsomely placed after piling up 333 but Paul Collingwood suffered a back spasm and was unable to fill his role with the ball as Australia won by two wickets.
Collingwood, who was picked primarily for his bowling, joined England's lengthy casualty list from this one-day series which has left Strauss with the bare bones of an attack. Tim Bresnan (calf) and Graeme Swann (back) are already back in the UK and will soon be joined by Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring) and Chris Tremlett (side), who will fly home from Sydney on Thursday.
Liam Plunkett, the Durham allrounder, has completed a 36-hour journey from the Caribbean to Perth where England head to tomorrow for the final one-day international on Sunday, and Collingwood's injury gives him a decent chance of at least being rewarded with a match for his brief visit Down Under.
The loss of Collingwood also turned the spotlight on England's gamble of playing just five bowlers with the fill-in 10 overs from Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott costing 72. Strauss admitted they will have to reassess the balance of the side heading into the World Cup, but added the injury situation hadn't left much breathing space in this match.
"He had a back spasm so he couldn't walk very well and he certainly couldn't bowl," Strauss said. "At the moment we are a bit short on bowlers full stop. So we were forced into right that at the moment. It's a fair question to ask. It's not ideal - I need five bowlers, there is no doubt.
"Ideally you will have six bowlers at your disposal; five specialists and a Collingwood-type bowler. We are going to have to decide what the best way of winning games out on the sub-continent is. The likelihood is there are going to be two spinners involved and that allows you to play with six bowlers."
The conditions also made it a tough day with temperatures nudging 40 degrees although England avoided the worst of the heat by batting first. Even then it took its toll on the batsmen with Jonathan Trott suffering from cramp during his 137 and needing a runner to complete the innings.
"It was certainly one of the hottest days I've ever batted in. That takes it's toll on the players, the players have played a lot of cricket over the course of this Australian summer," Strauss said. "It was hard work. It was very frustrating to do all that hard work and not get the result at the end of it."
Trott, who managed to take on fluids during the interval and fielding for most of Australia's innings, said the coloured one-day kits make it even harder. "It was really tough. It's just one of those things, also with the blue clothing, it's not the white stuff, so it heats up pretty quickly."
For a moment during Australia's innings it appeared another player may have gone down when Kevin Pietersen slid in the outfield and hurt his ankle. He limped off for treatment but returned to send down six overs and claim the wicket of Mitchell Johnson. Too many more injuries and England will struggle to name an eleven in Perth.