Australia pile misery on England
11:01am Sunday 19th January 2014 in © Press Association 2014
England's troubled tour of Australia suffered a fresh blow as they meekly surrendered the one-day international series with a seven-wicket defeat in Sydney.
Half-centuries from David Warner and Shaun Marsh ensured Australia strolled to England's below-par 243 for nine with 10 overs to spare.
After losing the Ashes before Christmas, en route to a 5-0 whitewash, defeat meant England also conceded the ODI series at the earliest possible opportunity.
The result also extended England's losing run against Australia to nine games - in all formats dating back to last summer - while the danger of a double-whitewash this winter looms ever more menacingly.
England's innings faltered badly in the middle overs as they again relied on Eoin Morgan, who passed 50 for the third time in as many games.
While all of the top six made double figures, their failure to push on continued a worrying trend.
Tim Bresnan, batting at eight, was the best of the rest with an unbeaten 41 - which included consecutive sixes in the final over - while skipper Alastair Cook showed signs of returning to form, with 35 from 36 balls.
It was some light relief for the 29-year-old, whose captaincy continues to come under criticism as the defeats pile up.
Morgan hit 54 before he was involved in a confrontation with Australia skipper Michael Clarke after Dan Christian claimed a low diving catch in his follow-through.
Morgan waited for the replays to confirm what Clarke heatedly chose to tell him, and non-striker Jos Buttler, that it was a fair catch.
There was enough doubt to understand Morgan's reluctance to walk, with the television pictures showing Christian only just managed to get his fingers under the ball.
Christian's athleticism epitomised a razor-sharp Australia fielding display.
Clarke himself took a memorable low catch with his unfavoured right hand to dismiss Ben Stokes, although Warner provided the highlight with a direct-hit run-out from deep point to catch Ian Bell short.
It was a moment to reflect the differing fortunes between these teams, as Warner then survived a run-out chance before he had faced a ball.
Ravi Bopara passed up the opportunity, at cover point, with Warner having already given up hope of reaching his ground.
With a total that appeared below-par, England needed to take their half-chances and Warner set about making them pay.
He clubbed Bresnan's second ball for a straight six and brought up his half-century from 56 balls and including five fours.
Chris Jordan did grab an early wicket when Aaron Finch picked out Bopara at cover but by the time Warner fell in similar circumstances, off Stokes, his 71 from 70 balls had already catapulted Australia towards victory.
Marsh did the rest of the spadework with a composed unbeaten 71, from 89 balls, before punching the winning runs to the mid-wicket rope.
England were tied down in the middle overs, chiefly by Australia spinners Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, after openers Cook and Bell had set off with a run-a-ball 50-run stand.
Cook hit five fours and a six, easing Nathan Coulter-Nile (three for 47) over the square-leg rope, before pushing off the back foot to Maxwell at cover.
Bell, who was dropped by Finch at short point, was then caught out by Warner's moment of brilliance in the outfield.
England elevated Stokes, after out-of-sorts Joe Root was omitted, but he only managed a laboured 15 from 39 balls before falling to more excellent Australia fielding as Clarke dived forward to hold on at backward square leg.
It was reward for Doherty who in tandem with Maxwell allowed just 38 in 13 overs and put the clamps on.
Gary Ballance tried to force the issue but picked out the deep cover fielder, after taking 42 balls for his 26, and England were 121 for four in the 29th over.
The onus was again on Morgan, the centurion at the Gabba, to revive matters.
Bopara offered support in the second half-century stand of the innings only to edge behind the final ball of the batting powerplay.
Crucially Morgan and Buttler, who smashed a century stand in Brisbane on Friday to get England up to 300, quickly followed him.
After Morgan's debated dismissal, Christian, brought in as a replacement for Mitchell Johnson, caught Buttler in two minds with a slower ball he chopped on to his stumps.
When Stuart Broad, back after his two-game break, skied straight up in the air, England had lost 21 for four at a time acceleration was required.
Bresnan supplied some much-needed late hitting, his 41 coming from 29 balls, but it made little difference in the end.