Tourists end long and arduous tour of England on high note after Watson scores match-winning century in final ODI.
Australia ‘deserved’ ODI series win, says Clarke
Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, was in no doubt his side “deserved” their 2-1 one-day international series win over England after a 49-run victory in their tour finale at Southampton.
Shane Watson’s 143 and the all-rounder’s fourth-wicket partnership of 163 with Clarke (75) took Australia to 298 on Monday, a total that might have been even greater but for 22-year-old England all-rounder Ben Stokes’s ODI best five for 61 and debutant seamer Chris Jordan’s three for 51.
However, Australia had more than enough runs to play with as England managed just 249 in reply before being bowled out under the Ageas Bowl floodlights.
After England’s preceding 3-0 Ashes series success, the main event of an Australia tour that started with their early exit from the ICC Champions Trophy one-day tournament in Britain and saw them replace sacked coach Mickey Arthur with former Test batsman Darren Lehmann, this series seemed an after-thought.
That was especially so after the first and third matches ended in rain-marred no results, with Clarke making a hundred in Australia’s 88-run second ODI win in Manchester before Jos Buttler led England to a series-levelling three-wicket victory in Cardiff on Saturday.
“For a lot of people, this series did not mean a lot,” Clarke said. “But to us it meant a great deal.
“Everyone in our dressing-room is excited, and so they should be – because we deserved this win,” the man-of-the-series added.
England’s pursuit of 299 never really recovered from the first-over run out of Kevin Pietersen, despite a stand of 92 between Ravi Bopara (62) and Buttler, who followed up his match-winning 65 not out at Sophia Gardens with 42.
Australia were well worth their victory but with England resting five mainstays of their Ashes-winning side – regular captain Alastair Cook, key batsman Ian Bell, new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad as well as first-choice spinner Graeme Swann – Clarke was reluctant to read too much into the result ahead of the return Test series ‘Down Under’ starting in November.
“I don’t know whether it will have much impact on the Ashes back home but we get the flight back home tomorrow [on Tuesday] a lot happier as a one-day side certainly,” Clarke said.
“The Ashes is still a way away but everyone is excited about that and the players are thinking about it already, but our focus has to be on the seven ODIs in India first.”
Watson, named man-of-the-match after a dominant 107-ball innings including 12 fours and six sixes on a ground where both he and Clarke once played for south coast county Hampshire, said there had been a significant change in the side’s mood since Lehmann replaced Arthur.
“Things have changed quite a bit and I think the most important thing is everyone’s really enjoying themselves,” said Watson, one of four players controversially dropped by South African disciplinarian Arthur for failing to complete ‘homework’ during Australia’s 4-0 Test series loss in India earlier this year.
“We’re playing the brand of cricket we know is going to give us success – we just need to be more consistent with it.”
But Eoin Morgan, the stand-in England captain, said the hosts, who saw senior batsman Jonathan Trott withdraw with a back spasm shortly before Monday’s toss, could take heart from this series.
“The biggest ‘positive’ is we’ve got to see a lot of young cricketers come through, and we’ve got to learn about them more than anything,” Morgan said.
“Even today [on Monday], Jordan looked really threatening up front. He bowled a heavy ball, and came back at the end and bowled well.
“He, along with Stokes, has impressed and [Boyd] Rankin similarly.
“It’s very difficult to ease Broad, Anderson out of a team. But anything could happen in an Ashes series – you could have a couple of guys go down and potentially a couple of these guys coming in and replacing them.
“This series was about educating them and having a look at them. So it’s a huge ‘positive’.”