England made hard work of a three-wicket one-day international win over a weakened Australia at The Oval.
Moeen Ali’s three-wicket burst reduced the tourists to a paltry 214 all out, before Eoin Morgan and Joe Root’s 115-run partnership put the hosts on course for victory.
Morgan hit 69, with Root departing for 50, as England rode out a late wobble to start the five-match series in triumph.
Morgan, Root, Jos Buttler and Ali all perished to weak shots to leave bowlers David Willey and Liam Plunkett to finish the job.
Australia’s first international action since March’s ball-tampering scandal that saw Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft suspended ended in a defeat that would have been more comprehensive, save for England’s errant batting.
Australia struggled for fluency throughout, feeling the injury absence of bowling trio Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood just as much as their three suspended batsmen.
Moeen put England in control, claiming his first two wickets for three runs in a match-turning eight balls. The Worcestershire off-spinner drew a false shot from Aaron Finch, clean bowled Shaun Marsh and then forced captain Tim Paine into a mistake to boot.
Glenn Maxwell hit 62 from 64 balls to dig Australia out of an even deeper hole, only to loft a facile catch to Jonny Bairstow off Plunkett.
England endured the worst possible start to their reply when Jason Roy fell to just the second delivery as he was late on his shot to a ball from Billy Stanlake that nipped back on him and was bowled without scoring.
Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow then scored a flurry of boundaries before Michael Neser claimed his maiden one-day wicket when he trapped Hales on the back pad to have him lbw for five and leave England on 23 for two.
Bairstow continued to play freely as he went in search of a fourth consecutive one-day international century but he then pulled Kane Richardson straight to Travis Head at deep square leg and was caught for 28 to leave England 38 for three.
But Morgan and Root rebuilt the innings before Morgan and Buttler (9) fell to Andrew Tye as England leaked wickets throughout their facile run chase.
Root then edged Stanlake behind to depart on 50 when he ought to have steered England home. Ali could not finish the job either, holing out off Michael Neser’s bowling for 17, teeing up a tense finish with England seven down and still 18 short of victory.
But Willey sealed the win by thumping a huge straight six to end unbeaten on 35.
Australia will face their first international action since March’s shameful ball- doctoring incident when taking on England at The Oval on Wednesday.
Captain Steve Smith and deputy Warner received year-long bans for the ball-tampering that stunned Australian cricket in March’s third Test against South Africa.
Cameron Bancroft – who doctored a ball with sandpaper amid South Africa’s 322-run win in Cape Town – was also banned for nine months by Cricket Australia, with head coach Darren Lehmann resigning.
Morgan has vowed England will approach the Australia series with “service as usual” on a sledging front – but promised his side will not touch on March’s events.
Asked if England would use the ball-tampering in sledging, Morgan replied: “No. If you look at it in that, it probably could be ammunition. It will be service as usual.
“We play our cricket pretty hard, positively, aggressively, so we’ll continue to do that.
“I’m expecting a tough series. Every time we’ve played against Australia, the side we’ve come up against has played hard, tough cricket, so we’ll expect that as well.”
New head coach Justin Langer has pledged Australia will respect the line between banter and abuse in the wake of March’s ugly scenes on and off the field.
Asked if Australia can stick to those promises, Morgan replied: “To be honest I don’t know, I’ll only be able to tell you after tomorrow.
“We can speculate as much as we like, but the proof is in the actions.
“So we’ll only find out tomorrow. I think it’s going to be a good series.”
Confirming Jos Buttler will slot back into England’s line-up following Sunday’s shock six-run defeat to Scotland, Morgan said his side have to learn from that surprise reverse in Edinburgh.
Morgan added: “It’s no good losing the lesson and the game, you’ve got to take something from it.”
It has been some year for Jonny Bairstow in one-day cricket. A year ago, the Test wicketkeeper was a regular 12th-man in the one-day international side and forced to play a bit-part role as England‘s white-ball form improved.
After breaking into the side in the Champions Trophy last summer however, he has made the opening spot his own with a remarkable run of form. Sunday’s shock defeat to Scotland in Edinburgh will mean his own personal feats are somewhat overlooked, but he was once again in scintillating form at the top of the order as he hit a 54-ball century to mark his third ODI ton on the bounce.
It is the first time an English batsman has achieved the feat – only Kumar Sangakkara has more with four – and it was his fifth ton in his last 16 innings. Although he was unable to go on to play a match-winning knock in Edinburgh, Bairstow is pleased with how he has cemented his spot.
Jonny Bairstow becomes 9th batsman, fourth opener and first ever from England to score 3 consecutive centuries in ODIs. Previous eight: Babar, Sangakkara, R Taylor, De Kock, De Villiers, Gibbs, Anwar, Z Abbas. #SCOvENG— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) June 10, 2018
“To score three on the bounce is really pleasing considering 12 months ago people were questioning whether I should be playing or be opening the batting or be in the middle order,” he said.
“Twelve months down the line, to score five hundreds and three on the bounce, I am pleased with where I have gone.”
Having lost to Scotland for the first time in their history, England must now turn their attentions to Australia, who they face at the Oval on Wednesday in the first of a five-match series.
Captain Eoin Morgan said that the defeat will act as perfect preparation for the series, and Bairstow agreed that it will be a completely different challenge to face an Australia side going through an uncertain period following the suspension of two key players and a change in leadership.
He said: “It’s a completely different challenge and a completely different team that we will be playing. It’s a team that has a lot of new guys in, without (Mitchell) Starc, (Josh) Hazlewood, (Pat) Cummins, (David) Warner, (Steven) Smith, so there are guys wanting to compete for places and we know just how dangerous that can be when people are pushing for a permanent place.”