No happy clapping from the England camp as Clarke leads Australia to almighty total

England 333-6 Australia 334-8 (Australia win by 2 wickets)

Among the less infernal ditties accompanying the one-day circus every step of the way is: "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands." During the interval of the sixth (and, praise be, penultimate) match of the series yesterday, England might have hummed a few bars to themselves.

Jonathan Trott, as in-form throughout this entire tour as it is possible to be without being Don Bradman, had made a wonderfully composed 137 in a commanding England total of 333 for 6. Only three times in the history of limited-overs cricket had a higher target been attained and never at the Sydney Cricket Ground had any chasing team made more than 269 to win. Had there been any stray passing bags, England's second victory of the series might have been in it.

By the end of Australia's pursuit 49 overs and two balls later, all England might have wanted to do with their hands was put their heads in them. Somehow, they contrived to lose for the fifth time in the series. Australia were permitted a rip-roaring start which put them right in the game if not in control of it and they never took their foot off the throttle.

England's optimistic, almost foolhardy strategy of playing only four specialist bowlers backfired on them spectacularly as it was bound to do. Better perhaps in the heat of a Sydney afternoon with a series already lost than in the cauldron at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore against India in the World Cup in barely three weeks.

For the last four matches, England have chosen their veteran all-rounder as No 7 batsman and their fifth bowler. For most of his career, Paul Collingwood has been the spare bowler, the reliable filler-in who, if things are going particularly well, might deliver his full quota of 10.

But Collingwood was unable to bowl last night because his back went into spasm when he essayed a big shot to the last ball of England's innings. Immediately, England were exposed, their options curtailed. The fifth bowling duties were shared, improbably, between Kevin Pietersen and Trott (on the grounds presumably that Trott can do no wrong at present). While they acquitted themselves reasonably well, Jimmy Anderson had one of his less worthy days – but his captain Andrew Strauss had nowhere else to turn.

Australia knew it and although they were on the verge of cocking it up at the death, they were worth their 5-1 lead. Michael Clarke, their captain, was cheered to the crease whereas he had been booed at Brisbane last Sunday, and responded by making 82 in 76 balls. It may be that Clarke, out of sorts all this Australian summer, is timing his run to the World Cup to perfection.

But nobody deserved to be on a winning side last night more than Trott. It was his fourth international hundred of the tour, following his brace in the Ashes series and his 102 in the fourth match of this series. When a player scores a hundred in a one-day match his side wins around 80 per cent of the time.

It was his most measured one-day innings, scored at more than a run a ball but relying on hard running rather than boundaries of which there were only 11. For once, his colleagues played round him wisely. Trott was in by the eighth over, lost Andrew Strauss in the 23rd but was then accompanied by a variety of dashers to the end. None made fifty but all did their job on a pristine pitch, both Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan attacking with glee.

Trott finished his innings with a runner because of cramp. Until recently batsmen with cramp were not allowed a runner because it was not deemed to be a proper injury (indeed Strauss had refused a runner to a clearly suffering Graeme Smith in the Champions Trophy in 2009) but the regulation has changed. It did not seem to hamper Trott who swung freely in the latter overs and was out to the penultimate ball.

Strauss said: "It was a top-notch batting performance all round really. For him to have batted through the innings in that sort of heat was outstanding. It was a monumental innings. He deserved to be on the winning side. It didn't help that Paul Collingwood couldn't bowl his 10 overs. But other than that we allowed them far too fast a start with the new ball and it's a bitter pill to swallow."

England's injury losses continue to mount. Collingwood's back may or may not come out of spasm quickly but Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett, both already ruled out of the series, are flying home today for continuing treatment to their respective side and hamstring pulls. Shahzad is by no means certain to be ready for England's first warm-up game in the World Cup in 13 days and the spectre of calling for last-minute replacements will continue to haunt England until that very morning.

"At the moment we're a bit short of bowlers full stop," said Strauss. "It's not ideal only to have four bowlers. Ideally you'll have six bowlers at your disposal, five specialists and a Collingwood type bowler. But we're going to have to decide what the best way of winning games in the sub-continent is. The likelihood is that there are going to be two spinners involved and that is an argument to play the sixth bowler."

England must decide quickly. It is crucial that they do not enter the World Cup with a half-cocked strategy. The policy used recently has been, partly, foisted on them by circumstances. But they must become masters of their own destiny. A side incapable of defending 333 is soon bound to cease being happy.

Highest ODI run chases

438-9 South Africa v Australia, Mar 2006

350-9 New Zealand v Australia, Feb 2007

340-5 New Zealand v Australia, Feb 2007

334-8 Australia v England, Feb 2011

332-8 New Zealand v Australia, Dec 2005

Sydney scoreboard

England won toss

England

*A J Strauss c Hussey b Smith 63/0/6/69/89

†M J Prior b Johnson 18/0/2/23/31

I J L Trott c & b Tait 137/0/11/126/189

K P Pietersen c Smith b Lee 29/0/2/34/50

I R Bell c Clarke b Tait 45/0/5/32/56

E J G Morgan c Tait b Watson 21/0/3/13/13

P D Collingwood not out 7/0/0/5/6

C R Woakes not out 0/0/0/0/0

Extras (b1 lb4 w6 nb2) 13

Total (for 6, 50 overs) 333

Fall 1-41, 2-121, 3-189, 4-293, 5-319, 6-330.

Did not bat M H Yardy, J M Anderson, S T Finn.

Bowling B Lee 9-1-66-1, S W Tait 10-0-59-2, M G Johnson 6-0-43-1, J W Hastings 7-0-48-0, D J Hussey 4-0-25-0, S P D Smith 7-0-40-1, M J Clarke 1-0-7-0, S R Watson 6-0-40-1.

Australia

S R Watson c Strauss b Yardy 51/0/8/34/51

†B J Haddin c Trott b Anderson 20/0/1/25/32

C J Ferguson run out 46/0/3/44/72

M G Johnson st Prior b Pietersen 57/2/1/59/76

*M J Clarke run out 82/1/4/70/119

C L White c Morgan b Finn 20/1/1/21/23

D J Hussey c Prior b Finn 38/1/2/36/59

S P D Smith run out 0/0/0/2/2

J W Hastings not out 7/0/1/4/12

B Lee not out 2/0/0/2/4

Extras (w11) 11

Total (for 8, 49.2 overs) 334

Fall 1-71, 2-87, 3-166, 4-194, 5-224, 6-314, 7-317, 8-327.

Did not bat S W Tait.

Bowling C R Woakes 9.2-0-73-0, J M Anderson 10-0-91-1, S T Finn 10-0-51-2, M H Yardy 10-0-47-1, K P Pietersen 6-0-43-1, I J L Trott 4-0-29-0.

Umpires M Erasmus and D J Harper

Series Australia lead 5-1; Final match: Sunday 3.30am

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower