ENGLAND may have needed a Duckworth-Lewis target of 138 runs from 29 overs because of the rain, but last night little else threatened to prevent them strolling to a seven-wicket win over Australia to complete a successful 4-0 series victory.
An impressive stand of 92 between captain Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara sealed the result with 11 balls to spare after Australia had been restricted to 145-7 from the shortened 32 overs played following the conclusion of delays for rain.
England have now won a team record 10 consecutive one-day internationals but though Australia depart the miserable tour without a solitary victory, they officially remain the world’s top one-day side after England were denied the necessary 5-0 series win required to surpass their visitors because of the cancellation of their third international at Edgbaston.
Beyond an uninspiring start when James Anderson, James Tredwell and Samir Patel respectively twice dropped Matthew Wade and Samir Patel, England settled into the kind Old Trafford conditions to build the momentum necessary to overcome the discernibly directionless Aussies.
Within 10 balls, Australia lost Peter Forrest, Wade and captain Michael Clarke, and the off-spin of Tredwell and medium pace of Bopara continued England’s progress in the middle overs with only the defiant George Bailey alone in salvaging any pride for the visitors who were by then beyond a competitive score.
If Australia sensed the most unlikely of upsets when Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott easily gifted their wickets then they would only experience greater disappointment.
Cook and Bopara proceeded to take control, the latter in particular continuing to enhance his reputation as a one-day player of the highest calibre, and eased England towards their latest victory over deflated opponents on an occasion to prove that their development as a one-day side continues.