England captain Eoin Morgan hailed his side's depth of talent after 22-year-old seamer Tom Curran stole the show with a maiden ODI five-wicket haul to see off Australia by 12 runs in Perth. Batting first, England posted a modest 259 but Curran stepped up to the plate in the absence of senior bowlers Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes, to produce a fantastic spell of reverse-swing bowling and take a match-winning 5/35.
With the ODI series won ahead of the series finale in Perth's new stadium, England opted to rotate their fast bowlers, bringing in Curran, David Willey and Jake Ball. All three were put to the test in defending 259 on a good wicket with a quick outfield. And while Willey was economical, it was Surrey right-arm seamer Curran who stood out, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck to see his side home.
Curran bowled Australian opener David Warner with a yorker early on before returning later on and producing the match-winning spell. With the ball showing signs of reverse-swing, he trapped the dangerous Glenn Maxwell lbw for 34, had Mitchell Starc caught well by Jos Buttler with an outswinger before bowling Adam Zampa and, crucially, Tim Paine to complete a thrilling win.
His impact, in only his second ODI of the tour, underlined England's confidence and depth of talent.
"We're spoiled for choice at the moment with guys fighting for positions," Morgan said. "It's a special group of players that are very talented. To win while we're learning is extra special."
It was far from plain sailing for England though. After a fast start with the bat, thanks to openers Jason Roy (49 off 46 balls) and Jonny Bairstow (44 off 48 balls), Alex Hales (35) and Joe Root (62) were forced to rebuild with wickets falling with regularity. England's lengthy batting order didn't come good, with Buttler (21), Moeen Ali (6), Adil Rashid (12) and Willey (2) all dismissed cheaply. Andrew Tye took 5/46 to claim a maiden ODI five-wicket haul, while Mitchell Marsh (2/24) was also impressive.
Having set a below-par target, England had to be at their best with the ball. Marcus Stoinis scored 87 from 99 balls and Glenn Maxwell 34 from 39 to put Australia on track and it was only some excellent bowling from Moeen (3/55) and Curran who dragged it back.
Well done @_TC59 on a match winning performance. Showed great temperament and control. Class act— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) January 28, 2018
"I thought we'd played particularly poorly for much of the game, but when we got on top we made it count," Morgan added. "In the Adelaide game, we had them seven wickets down, so we knew to fight to the end. There have been a lot of positives, a lot of fight through the series. The ball started going a bit reverse, that was the feedback we got from practice games, the ball chews up. Tom Curran, to bowl a spell like that, for such a young guy, is a great sign."
The games keep coming for England. With the ODI series done, focus turns to T20s, with a tri-series against Australia and New Zealand next on the fixture list on 7 February before they travel to New Zealand for five ODIs and two Test matches.