It took them almost three months, but England finally recorded their first win of their horrific Australian tour in the fourth one-day international against Australia at the WACA Ground on Friday. (Match Scorecard)
After eight successive losses against the home nation in both Tests and one-dayers, the tourists finally had something to celebrate with a 57-run win over Australia, who already held an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series. Up against an understrength Australian side led by George Bailey rather than Michael Clarke, who was rested along with Brad Haddin and David Warner, England made 316 for eight after being sent in to bat on a great batting wicket. In reply Australia made 259 from 47.4 overs.
Even in victory there was late agony for the English, with two chances going begging in the 10th-wicket stand and they also failed to refer a caught behind appeal that Hot Spot revealed had taken the outside edge. England should largely thank the all-round efforts of man-of-the-match Ben Stokes, who made 70 with the bat and claimed four wickets for 39, and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who thrashed 71 runs and then claimed five catches.
Despite a century by Australian opener Aaron Finch the home side were struggling in the run chase. Any realistic hope of an Australian win evaporated when Finch holed out to Stuart Broad at third man from the bowling of Tim Bresnan (3-45) for 108, from 111 balls. That left Australia at 189 for five in the 36th over and there was no last-gasp miracle from James Faulkner this time.
For one of the few times on their tour, luck was on England's side and they were aided by some uncharacteristically poor fielding by the home side. They even got a crucial decision review right to remove Bailey cheaply in the Australian innings to put the target beyond the hosts' reach.
For the visitors, Stokes delivered a polished 70 off 84 balls, while opener Ian Bell chipped in with 55 from 52 deliveries.Â Both were dropped during their innings, while captain Alastair Cook made a crisp 44 from 43 balls at the top order, only to fall when a much-needed big score seemed likely for the embattled skipper. Buttler produced some scintillating batting at the end of the innings, hitting four sixes as he made 71 from just 43 balls.
For just about the first time on the tour, the English got on top of paceman Mitchell Johnson, who went wicketless and conceded 72 runs from his 10 overs, although he was on the wrong end of two dropped catches. The tourists rode their luck as the home team couldn't maintain their previous efficiency in the field. Having taken virtually every chance offered the English all summer, the Australians grassed two chances and also squandered a couple of other opportunities. At one stage, they missed three catches in two overs, with Shaun Marsh putting down two at first slip in one Johnson over.
Marsh, celebrating his recall to the national Test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa, dropped Bell on 52 and Stokes on 29. Australia were also guilty of wayward bowling, conceding 16 wides.
Cook had been quoted as saying he was reconsidering his role as captain leading up to the match, but at the coin toss, he vowed to do all he could to hang onto the position. The left-hander finally looked back in form during his knock, hitting three successive boundaries off Nathan Coulter-Nile and playing some sparkling shots either side of the wicket. However, he was clean bowled by spinner Glenn Maxwell to continue his frustrating tour with the bat.