England long ago did what they came to do in Australia. Having won the Ashes in a fashion that could not have been imagined, the rest was stuff and nonsense.
This was as well because they proceeded to lose the one-day series 6-1. It was their first defeat in any series of any type – 14 in all – since they had been beaten by Australia in late 2009 in a one-day series, also by 6-1 (although a month later they were defeated by the same opponents in the Champions Trophy semi-finals). They are making a habit of it.
It was not pretty to watch. England kept squandering winning positions and, whatever their protestations, their minds were not on it and their hearts not in it. The Ashes had been won; the World Cup, for which they embark to the subcontinent on Saturday, was always next.
This went as much as for the watchers as the watched. There was always the inescapable feeling that, international matches though they might be, they were warm-up events. It is what comes from having an overcrowded calendar.
Nothing, however, could take the edge off what England had achieved over the course of five Test matches in six weeks between November and December. That was the stuff of memories to last for 1,000 years, one of life's privileges to witness.
But before the ODI series fades from consciousness altogether the day after tomorrow, the players – all 19 of them – need to be assessed. The World Cup is, after all, imminent.
Matt Prior 6/10
His recall to the one-day squad, surprising and unsurprising all at once, was a qualified success at best. He made one half-century in his six innings and the series reflected his one-day career, in which he has flattered to deceive. He is Springheeled Jack these days as a keeper and there remains cause to think he can perform well on the slower pitches of the subcontinent.
Batting average: 23.00; Catches 4; Stumpings 1.
Kevin Pietersen 4
Exasperating and perplexing. While the interpretation of body language remains subjective, nobody could have given a more rounded impression of wishing to be elsewhere. It was notable and noticeable that when he went over on an ankle in the sixth match, his team mates to a man ignored the subsequent rolling on the ground as though to say: "Oh Kev, do stop." He will be up for the World Cup, he needs to be.
Bat avg: 30.83
Ian Bell 4
Looked a million dollars on most outings but insisted on hitting the ball in the air to fielders. He has not yet cracked the one-day arena as he appears to have cracked Test matches and it is possible to wonder whether he should open the innings. He really should be doing better than this because he is better than this.
Bat avg: 22.00
Eoin Morgan 4
So much was expected of the Irish genius after he had accompanied the Test party around Australia without getting a sniff. But he faltered temporarily, losing his magic touch in pacing an innings. The broken finger he suffered in the fourth match at Adelaide was bad news for everybody and his prospects for the World Cup, for which he was eminently suited and remorselessly determined, seem bleak.
Bat avg: 17.66
Paul Collingwood 5
It is possible that his batting is now in terminal decline, a huge worry so close to his last World Cup. But he probably has to play because of his still shrewd, economical bowling. But England must realise that he is more valuable as a sixth bowler, not a fifth.
Bat avg: 17.66; bowling avg: 20.75
Tim Bresnan 6
Played in only one match as well as the Twenty20 games after suffering a calf injury. Strong, resolute, he has become an integral part of the side and is crucial to its balance.
Bat avg: 23.50; bowl avg: 27.00
Ajmal Shahzad 7
Not widely known beyond the dressing room but they see something in him. Believes in himself and can reverse swing the ball well.
Bowl avg: 40.50
Graeme Swann 6
Another who went home early with various ailments and the rest will have done him much good. If he is not fit, England's hopes for world glory will suffer perhaps irredeemably. And if he is fit, he has to take his A-game – the chances are that he will.
Bowl avg: 42.00
Mike Yardy 7
A cricketer who continues to demonstrate that he is greater than the sum of his parts. Fearless with his non-turning left-arm spin cum medium pace and learning to adapt his batting. India will be a big test for him and the theory that good, smart county cricketers can cut it internationally.
Bowl avg: 60.20
Luke Wright 3
Perhaps the most enthusiastic cricketer on the planet. He is going to the World Cup but it remains difficult to tell whether he is a batsman who bowls, a bowler who bats, or is quite good enough at either discipline. England do not seem to know either, but he should be wished well.
Bat avg: 28.00; bowl avg: did not take a wicket
James Tredwell 4
Barely given an opportunity and in his three one-dayers in three different series has yet to take a wicket. Difficult to see him playing a key role in the World Cup and one fears for his off-spin against big guns.
Bowl avg: did not take a wicket
Jimmy Anderson 7
Not at his best but that these days is considerable. Has to bowl most of his overs in power plays, an onerous responsibility. England need him fit and firing in most matches.
Bowl avg: 34.00
Steve Finn 7
Drifted out of the Test series but he is a quick learner with bundles of natural talent and he should have a part to play in all England's sides of the near future. Must not get distracted but has enviable, unknowable knack of simply taking wickets.
Bowl avg: 56.33
Steve Davies 4
Dropped after one game and then brought back for the last because of injuries. Not surprisingly he had a poor game on Sunday. Unlucky to be overlooked but has not quite shown he has the right stuff.
Bat avg: 21.00; 0 catches; 0 stumpings
Chris Woakes 7
Maybe a little short of pace at the most rarefied level but equally he may be able to compensate for that with his profound skill. Looks the part, can bat and his 6 for 44 in Brisbane were the second-best figures in one-dayers by an England bowler. Shows strength of bowling resources and has a future.
Bowl avg: 21.28
Liam Plunkett 7
It took him 30 hours to fly 13,000 miles to get to Australia for one match and then will make the journey back again to rejoin England Lions in St Kitts. Bowled with some purpose, if also with some of the old failings. Time with inspirational bowling coach David Saker would be well spent.
Bowl avg: 24.50
Jonathan Trott 9
The man they probably wanted to drop became undroppable. By simple dint of playing the game at his own pace on his own terms, Trott embarrassed his colleagues. With two hundreds and a fifty in the series he has become the batsman around whom the others play if only they would. He still may need some tricks to prosper in the World Cup.
Bat avg: 62.50
Andrew Strauss 6
As captain and opening batsman he was not quite on his game. This was understandable, considering the emotional effort the Ashes campaign must have taken. As ever, he made no excuses, even as injury piled on injury. Although he made two fifties, his batting was as careworn as most of the others'.
Bat avg: 25.57
Chris Tremlett 8
Probably the first reserve for the World Cup and the original new man. He has seized the day wonderfully since his recall and, although he may not be a natural selection for slow-turning pitches, bounce can work anywhere.
Bowl avg: 33.50
Australia 6 England 1
Melbourne England 294; Australia 297-4. Australia win by 6 wickets (16 January)
Hobart Australia 230; England 184. Australia win by 46 runs (21 Jan)
Sydney England 214; Australia 215-6. Australia win by 4 wickets (23 Jan)
Adelaide England: 299-8; Australia 278-7. England win by 21 runs (26 Jan)
Brisbane Australia 249; England 198. Australia win by 51 runs (30 Jan)
Sydney England 333-6; Australia 334-8. Australia win by 2 wickets (2 February)
Perth Australia 279-7; England 222. Australia win by 57 runs (6 Feb).
England's World Cup group fixtures: Netherlands (22 Feb); India (27 Feb); Ireland (2 March); South Africa (6 March); Bangladesh (11 March); West Indies (17 March).Reuse content