Anti-climax at Old Trafford sees Australia end campaign on high

England's Eoin Morgan (right) leaves the pitch after being hit on the helmet by a delivery from Mitchell Starc. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA.
England's Eoin Morgan (right) leaves the pitch after being hit on the helmet by a delivery from Mitchell Starc. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA.
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England and Australia were united in concern for Eoin Morgan after the home captain was floored by a 90mph bouncer in the Royal London series decider.

Australia eased to victory by eight wickets after England were skittled tamely for just 138 in the first innings.

A brief and breezy chase set up a 3-2 series victory, ending Australia’s otherwise disappointing tour on a high note.

Morgan retired hurt after turning his back on a steepling Mitchell Starc delivery in the seventh over and, having been treated for concussion by team medics, did not return to the field of play.

Starc, who played the game in which Phillip Hughes suffered a fatal injury whilst batting, was visibly rocked by the incident.

He was sought out on the boundary rope for some words of support by Australia coach Darren Lehmann, while captain Steve Smith wished his opposite number well at the close.

“I think there were a couple of guys that were a bit shaken up, Starcy in particular,” said Smith.

“Obviously it was a tough summer for us back home, losing a close mate (Hughes).

“You never like seeing anyone get hit like that, that’s for sure.

“Whenever anyone gets hit on the helmet like that your first concern is for their health. My concern at the moment is for Eoin. I hope he’s okay and he can recover well.”

James Taylor, who deputised for Morgan when England took the field for Australia’s regulation chase, suggested the captain’s violent departure had been a factor.

But with the scoreboard already reading 22-3, he fell short of blaming it for the result.

“That injury probably did cost us, it’s not good to see a member of your team hit like that but the guys have got to put it to the back of their minds,” he said.

“Eoin got an unbelievable ball from Mitchell Starc, he was a bit groggy and hopefully he can just rest up for the next few days.

“But it’s credit to Australia. We weren’t good enough in that middle section and it wasn’t our day.”

Starting the day at 2-2 knowing one more win would ensure they ended the season having won or drawn all series in all formats against New Zealand and Australia, England were struggling early on.

They opted to bat first but only Ben Stokes (42) and Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid (35 not out) offered any resistance as the hosts slumped to 138 all out in 33 disappointing overs.

Mitch Marsh and John Hastings did most of the damage, returning combined figures of 7-48,

Then an unbroken century stand between Yorkshire’s Aaron Finch (70no) and George Bailey (41no) saw Australia home less than halfway through their allotted overs.

In the first four matches the lowest score by a side batting first had been 299, leaving England’s bowlers with precious little to defend.

They managed a couple of breakthroughs after the turnaround but, with the Ashes and T20 honours gone, Finch and Bailey were in no mood to let the prospect of a 3-2 success slip.

England would have been pleased after winning the toss but any smiles in the home dressing room quickly turned to frowns.

The in-form Jason Roy was given out lbw twice in the first over the day, bowled by the recalled Starc, but after successfully overturning the first he declined to do so a second time.

Hastings added a pair of scalps with the second new ball, Alex Hales’s forgettable series ending with a half-hearted flap to a wide one outside off stump.

Taylor was close behind, nicking to Matthew Wade attempting to force Hastings into the off side.

That left England 22-3 but there was worse to come when Morgan’s stay was ended in violent fashion by Starc’s bouncer.

He stayed on his feet after the initial contact but it immediately became clear he was in no state to continue facing 90mph bumpers.

After the 10 powerplay overs England were 40-3, their worst return of the series in terms of both runs scored and wickets lost.

England needed Stokes to lead the lower middle order to a rousing response but although the all-rounder tried his best, Marsh had all the answers with a consistent, testing length picking up handsome rewards.

Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow and David Willey fell lbw to straight deliveries, DRS used to confirm both dismissals, and Moeen Ali was caught behind.

Stokes’s knock had been the exception, with six boundaries and a clean six over long-off, but Marsh won his third leg before decision to leave England seven down after just 20 overs.

Rashid averted a double-digit total as he drew out stands of 21 and 32 with No 10 Mark Wood and last man Reece Topley but it was never likely to be enough.

Australia were able to squeeze in 10 overs of the chase before lunch, but neither Joe Burns or Steve Smith were able to survive that period, both nicking to wicketkeeper Bairstow as Willey and Wood chalked up some early successes.

Resuming on 36-2, Australia threw off the shackles as soon as Rashid entered the fray.

His first two overs came at a cost of 27, including six down from the ground from Finch and three boundaries in four balls from Bailey.

Finch, in particular, was in no mood to linger and raced past 50 with the eighth and ninth fours of his innings off Moeen.

A thick edge from Bailey, Australia’s 19th boundary, settled things as England’s impressive 2015 campaign ended in an anti-climax.