England v Australia: Steven Finn stars in record ninth straight win
Fourth one-day international, Chester-le-Street
England 201-2 (47.5 ovs) beat Australia 200-9 (50 ovs) by eight wickets
Steven Finn took four wickets as a rampant England strolled to an eight-wicket victory over Australia to win the one-day series with a match to spare.
Finn (4-37) twice took two wickets in consecutive balls as Australia could manage only 200-9 in seam-friendly conditions in Durham. David Hussey top-scored for the tourists with 70.
England openers Ian Bell (69) and Alastair Cook put on 70 to cement England's advantage, before Jonathan Trott (64 not out) and Ravi Bopara (33no) finished the job with 13 balls to spare.
It was a record ninth consecutive one-day victory for England, beating their previous best of eight, achieved on three occasions.
England's winning run
England have won their last nine completed ODIs:
- Beat Pakistan by 130 runs, Abu Dhabi
- Beat Pakistan by 20 runs, Abu Dhabi
- Beat Pakistan by nine wickets, Dubai
- Beat Pakistan by four wickets, Dubai
- Beat West Indies by 114 runs, Rose Bowl
- Beat West Indies by eight wickets, The Oval
- Beat Australia by 15 runs, Lord's
- Beat Australia by six wickets, The Oval,
- Beat Australia by eight wickets, Chester-le-Street
Since going down 5-0 in India last October, Cook's men have won every match against Pakistan, West Indies and Australia to establish themselves as a real force in the 50-over game.
The dominance they have shown in three times dispatching their fiercest rivals can only bode well with the Ashes only a year away.
In truth, the Australians were a sorry sight by the closing stages at a raucous Riverside, their body language that of a beaten team.
Their cause was not helped by injuries to bowlers Brett Lee and Shane Watson, who were forced off the field after bowling only 3.2 overs between them.
The match got under way on time after a phenomenal effort from the groundstaff to drain away heavy overnight rain, and it was no surprise to see England captain Cook opting to bowl after winning the toss in damp, overcast conditions.
With the ball zipping around off the seam, England were soon among the wickets as Finn trapped David Warner and Peter Forrest lbw with successive deliveries.
Watson, often so destructive at the top of the order, took 36 balls to find the boundary but was just beginning to find his rhythm when he played on to a ball from Tim Bresnan that jagged back sharply off the seam.
Bopara kept England on top by removing George Bailey with a near-unplayable delivery that pitched on middle and seamed away to clip off stump, before Australia were plunged further into the mire by another brilliant burst from man of the match Finn.
Skipper Michael Clarke, aiming across the line, was bowled for an 85-ball 43 and Matthew Wade was superbly caught behind off an inside edge by a diving Craig Kieswetter, who clung on at the second attempt.
"The last two wins have been a stroll in the park. England got the conditions with the toss, but England are a better group of players at this moment in time, whatever the conditions. People are standing up and performing. I think England are on to something in one-day cricket."
Hussey helped the tourists avoid total ignominy with an accomplished counter-attacking innings which included nine fours.
Aided by a typically gutsy 27 from Brett Lee, Hussey brought up his fifty off 62 balls with successive fours off Samit Patel before holing out to long-off in the final over to give Bresnan a second wicket.
There were also two wickets for James Anderson, who became the second Englishman after Ian Botham to reach 500 in all forms of international cricket.
Cook got the England reply motoring with 11 runs off three balls in Lee's second over and Bell followed his captain's lead by tucking into a pair of leg stump half-volleys from seamer James Pattinson.
By the time Cook spooned a simple catch to cover, England had already sapped the tourists' resolve and a second-wicket stand of 66 between Bell and Trott put the result beyond doubt.
Bell struck nine fours - each with the conviction of a man at the top of his game - in his 69, and looked on course for his third one-day century before he played on to the persevering Clint McKay.
The dismissal merely paved the way for Trott and Bopara to see England home, the former batting in his usual unflustered manner to post his 16th one-day half-century and the latter tucking in to some dismal bowling from part-time spinner Hussey to further boost his case for selection in the upcoming South Africa Tests.
With the series in the bag, England will be aiming to wrap up a 4-0 victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday.