England recovered to claim victory and close out a 5-0 victory
Jos Buttler rescued England as they pulled off a one-wicket win from the most improbable of positions to complete their historic 5-0 whitewash of Australia.
England’s hopes of pulling off a clean sweep appeared all washed up at Old Trafford when they faltered to 114 for eight in pursuit of an under-par 205 all out in the one-day series finale.
But Buttler (110no) – who had already improvised a run-out and stumping in his wicketkeeping role – gave England the last laugh after all in Sunday’s tale of the unexpected.
They had bowled Australia out in just 34.4 overs, yet then – beginning their reply 10 minutes later – contrived to collapse to 50 for five against the pace and bounce of Billy Stanlake (three for 35) before the scheduled lunch break.
Buttler then had to bat against type as he finally found lasting support from Adil Rashid in a ninth-wicket stand of 81, and then scrambled the last 11 runs alongside number 11 Jake Ball, to carry England to the first 5-0 whitewash of their Ashes rivals in any format, with nine balls to spare.
His share was a brilliant 117-ball century, by far the slowest of his six in ODIs, and a compelling late bid for a man-of-the-series award which had been destined instead for one of England’s top three after their heroics elsewhere.
It seemed a formality that the line-up which piled up a world-record 481 for six at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, then made light of England’s second-highest successful run chase at Chester-le-Street three days ago, would comfortably come out on top.
That assumption did not last long.
Jason Roy was first to go, for a single in the very first over, after Australia took a chance on the spin of Ashton Agar with the new ball – and the opener gave him the charge, missed and was bowled.
Stanlake then took over from the Statham End, Jonny Bairstow caught-behind and Joe Root edging to slip before captain Eoin Morgan was castled by pace.
If England thought they were in calmer waters once Stanlake’s new-ball spell was done, they had to think again – because Alex Hales chased a wide one and was caught-behind in Kane Richardson’s first over.
Buttler was already batting admirably – but as Richardson returned to take two in two, debutant Sam Curran and Liam Plunkett caught-behind, support remained sadly lacking until Rashid strutted in at number 10.
He stayed put until hoisting Marcus Stoinis to long-leg in the 46th over – but Buttler would not be denied.
Irrespective of what followed, Australia’s innings was manic and flawed after they won the toss in glorious conditions on a quick pitch.
Moeen and then Curran – both with two wickets in three balls – took turns to stop the tourists in their tracks.
Travis Head (56) hit his third successive half-century, but got out frustratingly soon afterwards for the third time too, and D’Arcy Short was left unbeaten three runs short of his maiden ODI 50.
Australia faltered from 60 for none in little more than six overs to 100 for five – and they crumbled a second time after Short shared a stand of 59 with Alex Carey.
Head and Aaron Finch hit Curran out of the attack in an early onslaught which threatened to put unaccustomed pressure on the England bowlers, only for the introduction of Moeen to break the opening stand.
Finch edged an attempted pull down on to his leg-stump, and then Stoinis misswept Moeen to short fine-leg for a second-ball duck.
Australia repeatedly made much of their own trouble thereafter, captain Tim Paine one of two run out and Agar becoming Curran’s second victim when he played no shot to a straight ball.
Unaccountably, England conspired to bat even worse – until Buttler took charge.