Everything England do seems to work. James Tredwell, an unsung off-spinner from Kent, came into their side last night for his second one-day international at home. The upshot was entirely predictable – Tredwell caused key Australian batsmen to panic and with Alastair Cook scoring 58 and Ravi Bopara 52 not out, the batsmen finished the job.
England had dropped three chances when Tredwell came into the attack in the delayed fifth one-day international. He struck with his fourth ball when David Warner swept and was beaten by the turn. Panic swept through the tourists' ranks, as if they knew the English bowlers were coming to get them.
They were six wickets to the bad by the time George Bailey scored 46 from 41 balls with three fours and two sixes but if 145 for 7 was riches indeed compared to what had looked likely, they were still well short of the total they probably had in mind.
They could have done with winning the toss in moist conditions, given that the match did not start until 5.30pm. But it was crucial to make some sort of start and they never looked like doing so.
Peter Forrest decided to turn for two with the ball in Samit Patel's hands at long on and was run out by a perfect throw. Patel had been one of the guilty trio who spurned catches. He had been much too relaxed in taking a top edge offered by Warner at third man. It seemed to matter not.
Matthew Wade, promoted to open in the absence of Shane Watson, who has flown home with a calf injury, had been dropped twice, by Jimmy Anderson and Tredwell, both at slip. But Wade never looked like making the most of his fortune. Barely had Forrest reached the dressing rooms than he danced down the pitch to Tredwell and was stumped by Craig Kieswetter.
Michael Clarke, Australia's captain, dabbed a ball from Stuart Broad to point and set off for a single. Eoin Morgan threw down the stumps.
The match had been reduced to 32 overs a side because of heavy morning rain. It seemed as though Australia might not require their full allocation. Never can an Australian side have been quite so continuously off the pace in this country. Clearly, England must catch better but Australia have by far the bigger difficulties. Back home, the chairman of selectors, John Inverarity, has conceded that batting resources are slender. But in exposing them to England's bowling now the risk is that they are undermined for good.
Steve Smith is one of those in whom the selectors continue to place their faith. He seemed to be launching a recovery of sorts, twice in one over hitting Steve Finn for four, when he glanced Ravi Bopara's first ball down the leg side for Kieswetter to take the catch.
Off the first ball of Bopara's next over, David Hussey hung out his bat to give a catch behind to Kieswetter. At 86 for 6 with barely 10 overs left there were not many options for Australia, but James Pattinson helped Bailey in his mild salvage operation at the end of the innings.