Andrew Strauss challenged England to whitewash Australia after they won by just one wicket here at Old Trafford to go an unbeatable 3-0 up in their five-match one-day international series.
Victory meant Ashes-holders England,who defeated Australia in last month’s World Twenty20 final in Barbados,had now enjoyed recent success against their arch-rivals in all three forms of international cricket.
England begin the defence of the Ashes in Australia,where they haven’t won a Test series since 1986,in November and Strauss stressed this campaign would have no effect on that contest.
But the England captain,who made his best ODI score against Australia of 87 here yesterday,believed a clean sweep could have an influence upon next year’s World Cup in Asia,where Ricky Ponting’s men will be looking to win a fourth straight title.
“I don’t think we can read much into the Ashes in such a radically different format of the game,” Strauss told reporters.
But for the World Cup,I think it would instill us with a huge amount of confidence. We’re aiming for it (5-0) we’re in a great position to do that now. We don’t want to take our foot off the gas.”
England,having dismissed Australia for 212 with off-spinner Graeme Swann taking four wickets for 37 runs in 10 overs and James Anderson,on his Lancashire home ground,three for for 22,were coasting at 185 for three.
But a dramatic collapse in the face of accurate and hostile fast bowling from left-arm quick Doug Bollinger (three for 20) and the recalled Shaun Tait (three for 28),playing his first one-day international in over a year,sparked a sensational slump.
England lost six wickets for 18 runs in 39 balls as they collapsed to 203 for nine. But Tim Bresnan (14 not out off 15 balls) held his nerve and an edged four off James Hopes saw England home with five balls and a wicket to spare.
“It was quite horrendous,those last 10 overs,” Strauss said. “Getting past the 40th over three wickets down,needing 35 or so to win,we thought we’d just cruise over.
“The lesson to take out of that is that one of I or ‘Morgy’ (Eoin Morgan) should have been there at the end. The challenge is just to get the job done in those last 10 overs.
“I don’t think we’ve been that exposed,other than being the architects of our own downfall in the back-end of the game.
“Australia bowled fantastically well. There aren’t many sides that go 3-0 up against Australia,so I think we should take a huge amount of confidence from the way we’ve played.”
Strauss paid tribute to man-of-the-match Swann’s latest impressive display for England by saying: “Swanny has been outstanding in all forms of the game for a good period of time.
“Australia’s batting unit looks under a bit of pressure. That’s credit to the way we’ve bowled at them.”
Whereas previously England — beaten 6-1 in one-day series at home to Australia last year — would have lost after collapsing as they did on Sunday,now they had enough nous to seal victory.
“It was clear what Bresnan had to do but he did it really well,” Strauss said. “I think when you’re used to winning you just back yourself to get over the line.
“If we’d lost our last seven one-dayers,we almost certainly would have thought we were going to lose that one. That’s the difference.”