By Dave Clark
Captain Eoin Morgan praised England’s young seam attack despite the hosts sliding to a 49-run defeat as Australia claimed the NatWest series 2-1 at the Ageas Bowl.
Shane Watson’s 143 was the main difference between the sides, but England fought back well to restrict the tourists to 298 all out after they had raced to 211 for three inside 32 overs.
Ben Stokes claimed his first international five-wicket haul, debutant Chris Jordan took 3-51 and Boyd Rankin showed great control to finish with figures of 1-26 as Australia lost their last seven wickets for 87 runs.
"The biggest positive is that we've got to see a lot of young cricketers come through, and we've got to learn about them more than anything,” said Morgan.
"We've seen them perform at this level, which is great, against a strong Australian side.
"Even today, 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 Rankin similar.
"It's very difficult to ease [Stuart] Broad and [James] Anderson out of a team. But it's very important we have this depth throughout our squad, especially coming into an Ashes series and then the one-dayers after it.
"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.”
England’s began badly with Kevin Pietersen being run out for a duck in the first over, and the hosts lost regular wickets from then on as they were all out for 249.
Ravi Bopara fought hard for 62 and Jos Buttler again looked impressive as he made 42 off just 37 balls, but the home side rarely threatened to chase down what looked a manageable total on an excellent pitch.
And Morgan admitted to being disappointed with the way the chase unfolded.
"At one stage, they looked like getting about 350; so to restrict them to under 300 on a very good wicket, we felt it was a chaseable total,” he added.
"It was disappointing not to get closer, or even over the line.
"Two run-outs don't help. We lost wickets throughout the whole innings, didn't have a substantial innings from any individual or a big partnership. They are components of a big chase, so it didn't go well.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke praised the way his side had continued battling until the end of what has been a long summer.
“To this team the series meant a great deal,” said Clarke, whose side stay ranked second, a place ahead of England.
“Everyone in the changing room is extremely excited and so we should be, we deserved this win,
“We want to get back to being the number one one-day team in the world and I think this series is a good start for us.”