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Thrashed England still have reasons to be cheerful

Hallelujah! Three months to the day after England landed Down Under, they finally managed to beat the Australians.

It has been a long and painful road, but at last Captain Cook had something to smile about in Perth on Friday as his one day team broke a run of nine successive defeats to the Baggy Greens

Now the focus is on reducing the ODI series deficit to a respectable 3-2 and Coral go 6/4 that England can again taste victory in Adelaide on Sunday, but the Aussies are still strong favourites at 8/15.

The hosts took the foot off the gas at the WACA by resting key players Michael Clarke, David Warner, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin all at once and paid the penalty. For a change it was England bossing proceedings more or less from start to finish and the Aussies folding under the pressure, bowling 15 wides and fumbling in the field.

Australia have big incentives to bounce back in Adelaide. First of all it is Australia Day so of course a win against the old country would go down nicely. But more important from a cricketing point of view, Darren Lehmann’s men to win to regain top spot in the world rankings.

So some of the big names will be back, but we know that in all sports it can be difficult to regain momentum once it has been lost and Clarke and co may find England much harder to deal with now that they have lost the initiative.

Mind you, the visitors will need to be careful that one of the Aussie top order doesn’t catch fire and take the game away from them. Big hitting opener Aaron Finch (108 in Perth) can be especially lethal once he gets going – Coral go 3/1 that he top scores again.

It has been a rotten tour for England – there’s no getting away from it – but as it winds down there are reasons to be cheerful and optimistic of a revival in the near future.

Genuine all-rounder Ben Stokes has been a real find and looks like being part of the furniture for some time to come in all formats of the game. A first ODI half century followed by four wickets made him a shoo-in for the Man of the Match award in Perth (and he’s a tempting 14/1 with Coral to repeat the feat).

Gary Ballance has also settled in nicely, while Jos Buttler (a rapid 71 and five catches behind the stumps at the WACA) is another big plus on a tour that has had far too many minuses.