MANCHESTER: Ravi Bopara starred with bat and ball as England routed Australia by seven wickets in the fifth and final one-day international at Old Trafford here on Tuesday to complete a 4-0 series win.
It was the heaviest defeat ever suffered by Australia, still the world number one in the 50-over game, in any head-to-head limited overs series.
By contrast, this was England's 10th one-day win in a row.
Man-of-the-match Bopara took two wickets for eight runs in four overs with his medium-pacers as England held Australia to 145 for seven in an innings reduced by rain to 32 overs.
Then, after a further rain break saw England set a revised victory target of 138 in 29 overs, Bopara made 52 not out off 56 balls with five fours.
Together with England captain Alastair Cook, who made 58, he shared a stand of 92 in 98 balls that took the team to the brink of victory.
And when Eoin Morgan struck the winning runs England had triumphed with 11 balls to spare.
“The pitch was a little bit 'stoppy' but I think it got better as the night went on,” said Bopara, glad to see England home having made runs previously this series before getting out in sight of the winning post.
“It's about time I was there at the end!,” said Bopara. “It was important that I got an early knock and that one at the Oval (82 from 85 balls in England's six-wicket win in the second match) gave me confidence and stood me in good stead for the series.”
Cook praised Essex colleague Bopara by saying: “We all know what a quality player he is, and he is starting to deliver for England now.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke praised England but said his side would be stronger come their return for next year's Ashes Test series.
“We have no excuses, we came here to win all five games,” said Clarke.
“I don't want to take anything away from England, but I will make sure we are as well prepared as we can possibly be for the Ashes.”
Before this match, Australia coach Mickey Arthur had called on his side to show some “mongrel” but there was precious little in evidence in this day/night fixture or indeed the series as a whole.
And had it not been for a washed-out third match at Edgbaston, England might have been looking at a 5-0 clean sweep which would have taken them to number one and put them on top of the standings in all three international formats.
England's attack put the brakes on Australia's innings after David Warner had made a run-a-ball 32 following Cook's decision to field first in overcast conditions upon winning the toss.
Australia slumped to 55 for four and 86 for six before No 7 George Bailey's unbeaten 46 gave them some hope.
Off-spinner James Tredwell, in for the injured Tim Bresnan (elbow) and playing his first match at this level since England's World Cup quarter-final defeat by Sri Lanka in Colombo in March last year, took two for 23 in his maximum seven overs.
Australia's plight would have been worse had not England dropped two catches and missed another before they'd taken a single wicket.
But Australia failed to make England pay for their mistakes, with Warner lbw after missing a sweep as Tredwell struck fourth ball.
Peter Forrest was run out when Tredwell gathered Samit Patel's throw from long-on.
Two balls later Matthew Wade, who faced 41 balls for just 12 runs after opening in place of the injured Shane Watson, was stumped comfortably by opposing wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter off a sharply-spun Tredwell delivery.
Clarke couldn't halt the slide, run out for one by Morgan's direct hit.
Steven Smith made a useful 21 but was caught down the legside by Kieswetter off Bopara's first ball loosener.
And Bopara struck again when David Hussey, trying to run the ball down to third man, was caught behind.
England suffered a first over setback when man-of-the-series Ian Bell chipped Clint McKay to Bailey and, after the rain break, Jonathan Trott was bowled trying to sweep Clarke's fourth ball of left-arm spin.
But that was as good as it got for Australia.