The only Australian to consistently give England problems during the Ashes was Michael Hussey. He was Australia's top run scorer and, for four Tests at least, a painful thorn in their sides.
They had a brief respite from him during the Sydney Test, where he was as bad as every other Australian and managed to get rid of him cheaply in the first one day international. Then he suffered a hamstring injury that ruled him out for the rest of the series, and England rejoiced that their nemesis was gone.
However, even England must have known that the younger Hussey brother, David, has always been the more accomplished one day player. It proved today as his unbeaten 68 was the decisive factor in a four wicket win that had at one point looked unlikely.
This England side is beginning to feel the effects of having been in Australia for three months already. Missing the injured Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan (who is out for the rest of the series) and Kevin Pietersen, they were down to the bare bones of their squad. Pietersen's absence meant a recall for Paul Collingwood (he managed a solitary run) whilst Luke Wright and debutant Chris Woakes came in for the other two.
England's batting was as abject as it has been for this entire one day series. Matt Prior didn't lay bat on ball in making a three ball duck, which must have Steven Davies—the man overlooked for the Cricket World Cup—gnashing his teeth in frustration. Andrew Strauss was run out in a comedy of errors involving four different Australian fielders, and only Jonathan Trott, with a typically dogged 84 not out, came out of the innings with any credit. The most telling statistic is that no England batsman managed to score at even a run a ball, with Strauss being closest with 23 from 27. In the modern one day game, that is a failure which almost always leads to defeat, as it highlights a side who simply cannot accelerate their innings at any point.
Even so, Australia almost made a complete hash of chasing down England's modest total of 214. When Woakes dismissed Australian skipper Michael Clarke with his sixth ball in ODI cricket, the hosts were wobbling at 59-3. Collngwood then came on to make up for his abysmal batting with some accurate medium pace wobblers and in doing so, picked up two quick wickets. When Brad Haddin was dismissed by him with the score on 100, not only were they 100-5, Haddin was the only man who had reached double figures.
This left Hussey and the promising, but impetuous, Steve Smith. Both began slowly, but once they reached the magic two figures they began to pile the pressure on. Smith took eleven from a Michael Yardy over and looked good until he played a loathsome shot against Chris Tremlett. He skied a ball that any one of half a dozen England fielders could have caught. England had a glimmer of hope with the score only 163, but the tide had turned, and Hussey was coolness personified as he shepherded the inexperienced John Hastings to the victory.
Australia now leads this 7-game series 3-0 and is a win away from overall victory. England will have James Anderson back for the next match, but unless their batsmen start performing they have no chance of winning even one game of the remaining four.