The England captain, Michael Vaughan, last night refused to accept that the force was with Australia after his side had been demolished at The Oval.
"We were below standard," Vaughan said. "No excuses. But Adam Gilchrist did play fantastically. But I don't think the momentum is now with Australia for the Ashes series, just as I did not think it was with us after we beat them at Headingley. One-day cricket has little impact on the five-day game. And we are relaxed and looking forward to the start of the Test series on 21 July."
Vaughan added: "Overall, I think we have played some really good cricket in the one-day internationals. A year ago we would not have been able to compete as we have done with Australia, but now we are looking a better balanced side."
As for the injury to Kevin Pietersen, Vaughan shrugged it off. "I haven't really spoken to him about it, but he seems OK. It's just a niggle." An ECB spokesman said later that the Hampshire batsman and England's top scorer had had ice treatment on a groin injury.
Pietersen might have been some sort of England hero for scoring a belligerent, if lucky 74, but it was Gilchrist who stole the show.
"I was very happy with my innings," Gilchrist said. "First because it helped the team and secondly it is something like two years since I last scored a one-day hundred. It is unusual for me to be around at the death, usually it is unusual for me to make it past the first 15 overs.
"I think we have shown a lot of character to come back as we have done in this series after the defeat at Headingley. We have copped it off the field as well, we have been pictured with handbags in some papers and people have been laughing at us, but we have learned that all that is irrelevant if we concentrate on our cricket."
Gilchrist's 101-ball hundred was his 11th century in one-day international cricket and backed up an improved performance with the ball.
Captain Ricky Ponting said: "These last two victories are the result of a lot of hard talk and work. Today was as close as it gets to perfect for us, firstly restricting England's batsmen and then peeling off those runs with 15.1 overs to spare.
"It was also pleasing that one or two players have got right back into form, especially as they are players we need at the top of their game going into the Ashes."Reuse content