George Bailey, Australia's temporary captain, paid generous tribute to England's bowlers yesterday. He may not be alone among his side's leaders this summer.
"They bowled very, very well and made it hard for us to get any momentum with the bat," he said. "I'd have taken a target of 270 after they were 170 for 1, and 270 was certainly gettable. The challenge in one-day cricket is to get some momentum going but the defeat was probably more like a 70-run margin."
The splendid Jimmy Anderson became England's leading wicket-taker in one-day internationals, overtaking Darren Gough's haul of 234 wickets. "It certainly looked like we were stuck between trying to challenge them, to make something happen or waiting for them to bowl bad balls," added Bailey. "They started reverse-swinging the ball and were very disciplined and made it hard for us.
"They're a very experienced bowling unit and there was nothing that we haven't seen before. There was nothing they bowled today that we weren't expecting but they just executed very well and exploited the conditions and the nature of the pitch, which wore a little more than we thought it was going to.
"It's good skill, reversing. It took about an over to go from swinging conventionally to reversing. It is something that we need to look at. It made it simple for them to follow their bowling plans. Once it started reversing they could just hit a good length throughout the entire innings."
Warwickshire's Ian Bell, who was man of the match for his innings of 91 from 115 balls, confirmed the pitch was unlike most he had seen at Edgbaston for one-day matches.
"I think at 35 overs we were looking at 300," he said. "It was an extremely dry pitch for here. It was a lot easier with the new ball and it got harder and harder. When you set a platform of 170 for 2 most times we're going to get 300."
England knew they needed to restrict Australia, and Shane Watson in particular, at the start. They did so wonderfully and only 35 runs came in the initial powerplay. "It was an outstanding bowling performance," Bell said. "The first 10 overs were important because it was easier batting then and the way Jimmy and Stuart Broad set the tone was great. We are able to celebrate Jimmy becoming our leading wicket-taker so it has been a massive day for him."
But it was a team effort, buttressed by James Tredwell's off-spin. He knew he was playing only an hour before the start when Graeme Swann's stiff back forced him to withdraw. "Our seamers were fantastic but Jimmy Tredwell never lets us down," said Bell. "He has been superb for us every time he gets the opportunity.
"Whether it was Australia or Sri Lanka wasn't important today, it was about getting off to a good start."
Australia need their full-time captain, Michael Clarke, back as quickly as possible. His back injury has so far prevented him playing since they arrived in England. Bailey said: "Michael is desperate to get back. I know the talk is of 'save yourself for the Ashes' but he is desperate to get here." So are his team.
England's ODI wicket-takers
James Anderson 237/170
Darren Gough 234/158
Andrew Flintoff 168/138
Stuart Broad 155/98
Ian Botham 145/116
Phil DeFreitas 115/103
Paul Collingwood 111/197
Graeme Swann 103/78Reuse content