Travis Head and David Warner both struck centuries as Australia condemned England to their heaviest one-day international defeat by runs in Melbourne.
The openers combined for the highest ever ODI stand at the MCG (269) to help the hosts to 355-5, their highest ODI tally against England, in an innings shortened to 48 overs in due to rain.
Head hit a brilliant 152 from 130 balls and Warner made 106 from 102 deliveries as England were punished for a lackluster bowling effort in their final game before heading home.
Setting an adjusted Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) 364 to win, England never threatened to close and were knocked out for 142 with Australia securing a 3-0 series sweep in complete fashion.
Adam Zampa took 4-31 as England were dismissed in 31.4 overs.
For both sides, attention now turns to red-ball cricket, with Australia hosting the West Indies in a two-Test series from next Wednesday while England begin their three-game tour of Pakistan one day later.
Head and Warner ruthless in a record stand
It was the sort of innings England should be very familiar with.
Ultra-aggressive from the first ball, attack the bowlers, hit them, take risks, take a chance if you have to and before you know it you’re flying and the opposition is in shock.
Over the past seven years, it’s Jason Roy, Alex Hales or Jonny Bairstow who have faced the opposition. This time it was Head giving them a taste of their own medicine.
The southpaw offered a tough chance to slip when he was on four, had to overturn an lbw decision on nine, and found gaps, even limits, with poorly timed and poorly executed shots early in his innings. Fortune favored his courageous approach.
By the time he was beaten by Olly Stone for 152, however, it was a shock not only that he missed the ball, but that he didn’t cross it.
With a tired England attack struggling to find any sort of intensity or consistency, Head was relentless.
It was a brutal strike as the 28-year-old pounced on anything short and dispatched anything full in a fearless display of batting.
This allowed Warner, by his own admission, to play second fiddle with a century faster than a run-a-ball.
There was a little more to the celebration when he reached his 19th ODI tonne after the recent debate over whether he will be allowed to lead Australia againand even how long he has left in his international career.
“He was fired up and he had the bit between his teeth and it was fantastic,” former England bowler Alex Hartley said on Test Match Special.
The 35-year-old looked a far cry from a depleted force as he mixed power and trickery, and although the damage had already been done, England’s relief was palpable when they finally managed to take out Warner and Head within four bullets.
Former skipper Aaron Finch is gone and, at this rate, could quickly be forgotten.
“A game too far for England”
Looking at the schedule, it was clear that this ODI series might not be a priority for England.
“Horrible” was how Moeen Ali described it after the T20 World Cup victory and the way the tourists approached this series suggests that it was not a unique point of view within the team.
It’s not the first time this England side have been deprived of some of their stars due to Testing commitments, but when those who remain split the games equally after a successful but mentally draining tournament, the challenge becomes… so much bigger.
The lack of sharpness was evident in the first two games and in the third, with the series already lost, England struggled to muster any sort of intensity.
“I think it’s a game too far for England,” Hartley said. “They came out and played like they were already on the plane back.
“It’s so difficult when you’re on the back of a World Cup win. Australia have had an extra week off and they look a lot fresher.”
Even on a seam-friendly surface, English bowling lacked any sort of zip, particularly once the first wicket was not to come. There was no shortage of effort, but the bowling indiscipline hinted at minds not fully focused on the game at hand.
It may not have been England’s first-choice attack, but it did reveal just how much more of a threat Australian bowlers were when their chance presented itself.
Even more telling was the reckless manner in which England threw away their wickets once their slim hopes of successfully chasing the runs faded.
Buttler arrived at the fall of the fourth wicket and smashed his fourth ball in the air as he tried to knock Zampa out of the stadium, Moeen Ali drilled the same bowler and Sam Curran and Liam Dawson also fell while swinging . . None seemed too disappointed to leave.
With the World Cup in India next October, the 50+ format will soon take on much greater importance for Buttler’s team. But obviously, that time has not yet arrived.
Finally, England leaves Australia after having achieved its objective: a won World Cup.
“It does not taint the victory in the World Cup”
England captain Jos Buttler on BBC Test Match Special: “We missed a lot of way. It was always going to be a tough series for us at the end of the World Cup, but it was just a few games too far.
“Fair play to Australia, they outplayed us.
“It in no way affects winning the World Cup for us. We are very happy with the tour, we got exactly what we expected from it. [World Cup win].”
Australian captain Pat Cummins: “It was fantastic for all three games, everything really clicked. The bowlers wanted to play and got the job done, and the batters were fantastic.
“It was good to finish here with I think it’s the best ODI I’ve been in.”