Travis Head and David Warner both hit centuries as Australia consigned England to their heaviest one-day international defeat in terms of runs in Melbourne.
The openers combined for the highest-ever ODI stand at the MCG (269) to help the hosts to 355-5, their largest ODI total against England, in an innings shortened to 48 overs due to rain.
Head blitzed a brilliant 152 from 130 balls and Warner made 106 from 102 deliveries as England were punished for a lacklustre bowling effort in their final game before returning home.
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Set a Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) adjusted 364 to win, England never threatened to get close and were bowled out for 142 with Australia securing a 3-0 series sweep in comprehensive manner.
Adam Zampa took 4-31 as England were dismissed in 31.4 overs.
For both sides, attention now switches to red-ball cricket with Australia hosting West Indies in a two-Test series starting next Wednesday while England begin their three-match tour of Pakistan a day later.
Head and Warner ruthless in record-breaking stand
It was the sort of innings with which England should be very familiar.
Ultra-aggressive from ball one, take the attack to the bowlers, hit them off their lengths, take risks, ride your luck if you have to and before you know it, you’re flying and the opposition are reeling.
Over the last seven years, it has been Jason Roy, Alex Hales or Jonny Bairstow doing it to the opposition. This time it was Head giving them a taste of their own medicine.
The left-hander offered up a tough slip chance when he was on four, had to overturn an lbw decision on nine and found gaps, or even boundaries, with mistimed and miscued shots early in his innings. Fortune favoured his brave approach.
By the time he was bowled by Olly Stone for 152, though, it was a shock not only that he missed the ball, but that he didn’t middle it.
With a weary England attack struggling to find any sort of intensity or consistency, Head was relentless.
It was brutal hitting as the 28-year-old pounced on anything short and dispatched anything full in a fearless display of batting.
That allowed Warner, by his own admission, to play second fiddle with a century at quicker than a run-a-ball.
There was a little bit extra in the celebration when he reached his 19th ODI ton after the recent debate over whether he will be allowed to captain Australia again, and even how much longer he has left in his international career.
“He was fired up and he had the bit between his teeth and it was fantastic,” former England bowler Alex Hartley said on Test Match Special.
The 35-year-old old looked a long way from a spent force as he mixed power with guile, and while the damage was already done, England’s relief was palpable when they eventually managed to remove Warner and Head in the space of four balls.
Former skipper Aaron Finch is gone and, at this rate, might quickly be forgotten.
‘A game too far for England’
Looking at the schedule, it was clear a long way out that this ODI series might not be a priority for England.
“Horrible” was how Moeen Ali described it after the T20 World Cup win and the way the tourists have approached this series suggests his was not a unique viewpoint within the squad.
It is not the first time that this England side has been without some of its stars due to Test commitments but when those remaining are also splitting games between them following a successful but mentally draining tournament, the challenge becomes that much greater.
The lack of sharpness was evident in the first two games and in the third, with the series already lost, England struggled to muster any sort of intensity.
“I think it’s a game too far for England,” Hartley said. “They came out and bowled like they’re already on the plane home.
“It’s so hard when you’re on the back of a World Cup win. Australia had the extra week off and they look a lot fresher.”
Even on a seamer-friendly surface, England’s bowling lacked any sort of zip, particularly once the early wicket wasn’t forthcoming. There was no lack of effort but the indiscipline to the bowling hinted at minds not entirely focused on the game at hand.
It might not be England’s first-choice attack but it was telling how much more threatening Australia’s bowlers were when their chance came.
More telling still was the carefree manner in which England threw away their wickets once their slim hopes of successfully chasing down the runs vanished.
Buttler came in at the fall of the fourth wicket and smashed his fourth ball straight up in the air as he tried to put Zampa out of the stadium, Moeen Ali holed out off the same bowler and Sam Curran and Liam Dawson went down swinging as well. None seemed overly disappointed to depart.
With the World Cup in India next October, the 50-over format will soon take on far greater significance for Buttler’s side. But evidently, that time has not yet arrived.
Ultimately though, England leave Australia having achieved their goal: a World Cup won.
‘It doesn’t taint World Cup win’
England captain Jos Buttler on BBC Test Match Special: “We’ve fallen a long way short. It was always going to be a tough series for us coming off the back of the World Cup but it was just a few games too far.
“Fair play to Australia, they have outplayed us.
“It doesn’t put any taint on the World Cup win at all for us. We’re very happy with the tour, we’ve got exactly what we wanted from it [World Cup win].”
Australia captain Pat Cummins: “It’s been fantastic all three games, everything has really clicked. The bowlers have wanted to bowl and done the job, and the batters have been fantastic.
“It was good to finish it off here with I think is the best ODI I’ve been a part of.”