England crashed to a third ODI defeat in a row to the Australians in the tri-series tournament Down Under today, as they were soundly beaten in the final by a worrying 112 runs in Perth. After coming through their final group match against India earlier in the week on the same ground, hopes were high that Eoin Morgan could lead his men to a heartening victory over their old rivals, especially after the oh so close loss to the same opponents when they last played. Sadly, they were not up to the task and instead returned to another abject defeat, in much the same manner as that of their opening tri-series match against the same opposition.
Morgan will have been concerned by his side's failure to build on what had seemed an upward curve in form after that opening defeat. Two wins over India and a last over reversal to the hosts bode well for the chances of a close final, in England's final competitive match this side of the start of the World Cup. Yet, they had no answers to the all-round ability on display from Glenn Maxwell, who hit an impressive 95 runs with the bat, before returning 4-46 when Australia bowled the visitors out for a paltry 166 in reply.
It was England's failure to capitalise on a promising position during the Australian knock that ultimately cost them dear later in the match. At 60-4, the Aussies were on the ropes and struggling to post a challenging total in their fifty overs. They recovered as they often seem to have done against their Ashes' rivals in the last few seasons, to set a more than challenging 278-8, after a partnership of 141 runs for the fifth wicket. That on a ground where runs have been hard to come by in recent games played there, as evidenced by the low score that India set only a few days back of 200. England's main wicket-taker was Stuart Broad with 3-55.
England failed once again when they had their opportunity to bat, struggling to 98-7 before limping to their final total. Maxwell was backed up solidly by the returning Mitchell Johnson, who once again caused the English batsmen problems, as he finished with fine match figures of 3-27. Johnson was England's tormentor-in-chief at the start of their innings, ripping the heart out of the top order. Maxwell then finished the job off with his contrasting off-spinners, to suggest that the Aussies will have a major part to play in the outcome of the upcoming World Cup. England's top scorer on a poor day with the bat was Ravi Bopara with 33 runs.
Captain Morgan refused to accept that Johnson had been a decisive factor in the heavy defeat, preferring instead to suggest that it was mainly down to England's batsman not playing sensibly or as he referred to it: "We pushed the self-destruct button." He will have been nonplussed by their inability to bat their overs out as well, as when they were dismissed, there were still more than ten overs available to be batted. #CricketJohnson, though continues to be a major thorn in England's side, after the left-arm pace man picked up from where he left off in last winter's Ashes whitewash, where he was rightly named as the player of the series. He was rested for the previous group games, as the Aussies gear themselves up for a good crack at the World Cup.