Same old story for Strauss
England skipper Andrew Strauss was left to reflect on some familiar problems after seeing his side slip to a third successive defeat in the NatWest Series.
Cameron White’s maiden one-day hundred propelled Australia to a six-wicket win, secured with nine balls to spare, in the day-night encounter at the Rose Bowl.
Again the England top order faltered, with Strauss’ 63 off 72 balls the biggest contribution in a total of 228 for nine which featured 43 from Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood’s 28.
Although the hosts’ fielding let them down as they attempted to defend a far from imposing total, Strauss conceded another poor performance with the bat was decisive.
“It was bit of a case of Groundhog Day if I’m honest,” Strauss said. “The top six batters didn’t perform as we’d like to again, so that’s a bit of an issue we need to address.
“I am as culpable as anyone in these first three games. I’m batting really well and when you’re batting really well you need to make hay.
“I thought we bowled pretty well but we didn’t take all our chances. But defending 230 is always difficult on a flat wicket.”
Asked whether England’s problems with the bat in one-day cricket were more a problem with ability rather than mentality, Strauss replied: “I think it’s mainly a confidence thing.
“The guys in that top six have earned the right to play for England and they’re not bad players. We have had three poor batting performances and it is disappointing to have three in a row."
Having triumphed in the Ashes, England must now win the remaining four one-day games to clinch the NatWest Series.
But Strauss dismissed suggestions that his side have failed to lift themselves after claiming the summer’s main prize.
“I would argue that’s not the case,” he said. “We have five or six guys that played in the Ashes but that means we have five or six that didn’t play in it.
“Every time you pull on an England shirt there’s a chance to achieve something. We are not good enough as a one-day side to go easy.
“The situation in the series is we need to win four games, so there’s nothing different from the start of the series, but obviously we can’t afford any slip-ups now.”
Australia stand-in captain Michael Clarke felt Australia were good value for their win, and praised the contribution of White, batting at number three in the absence of skipper Ricky Ponting.
“We bowled really well again and Cameron White batted amazing out there,” said Clarke, who contributed 52 to a match-winning 153-run stand for the third wicket.
“We spoke yesterday about someone in the top four going on and making a big score, and he led from the front today.
“For Whitey it’s been about opportunity. He’s been given the chance to go out at number three, and he’s grabbed that opportunity with both hands.”
White, who had not scored an ODI fifty before this series, added: “I’ve really enjoyed batting up the order for Australia.
“I have done it with Victoria and a little bit in county cricket but it is something I haven’t done a whole lot of. It was nice to give myself a bit of time, assess the conditions and play.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to bat at three, just to prove to myself and my team-mates that I could do it."