BRISBANE, January 30- Australia claimed the one-day international series against England with a 51-run win in the fifth match at the Gabba in Brisbane on Sunday.
After winning the toss and batting Australia made 249, with second-gamer Chris Woakes picking up a record-equalling six wickets.
It seemed insufficient, but the tourists slumped to 145-9, before a late flurry from Steve Finn (35 off 24 balls) boosted their score to a more respectable 198.
The result gave Australia an unbeatable 4-1 lead in the seven-match series, ending England’s run of five straight ODI series wins, and the match also raised more than $6 million for victims of the recent Queensland floods.
The English were in early trouble in the chase at 22-3, when Brett Lee (2-21) was on a hat-trick.
Kevin Pietersen (40) and Ian Bell (36) put on 73 to revive their hopes but when the pair, and Eoin Morgan, fell in quick succession, they were 103-6 and all but beaten.
England captain Andrew Strauss lamented another poor batting display. "It was another poor performance with the bat," he conceded. "There were too many soft dismissals.
"We thought 250 was very chaseable. We need to finish this series off strongly heading into the World Cup."
Adding to the pain for England was an apparent hamstring injury to young paceman Ajmal Shahzad while bowling late in the Australian innings.
Shahzad, a member of England’s World Cup squad, limped off at the end of his eighth over, having pulled up sore four deliveries earlier.
Australian captain Michael Clarke, who made an overdue return to form with a half-century, said it was a gutsy effort from the Aussies.
"I think we did really well to scratch out 249," he said.
"We weren’t looking all that flash at one stage, and then the bowlers did a great job tonight. I think we are improving."
England’s poor batting squandered the stellar effort by Woakes, who was recalled to replace spinner Michael Yardy and claimed 6-45.
The 21-year-old Woakes became just the second England bowler to claim six wickets in an ODI, the other being Paul Collingwood (6-31) against Bangladesh.
His victims included four of the top six batsmen, Clarke among them.
However, Clarke finally showed signs of a long overdue return to form by top-scoring for the Australians with 54 from 74 balls.
Leading the side in the absence of the injured Ricky Ponting, Clarke was booed by local fans when he came out to bat.
It was the culmination of a poor season where he had previously posted just one score over 50 for Australia, having been out of form in Test cricket, ODIs and Twenty20s.
He finally broke the shackles of a dreadful summer when he hit paceman Steve Finn, making his ODI debut, for successive boundaries early in his innings.
However, the loss of Shaun Marsh and the underperforming Cameron White, both for 16, after opener Brad Haddin had earlier thrown his wicket away, restrained Clarke and he had to settle for trying to patiently rebuild the Australian innings.
The experiment of promoting Marsh up the order failed for the third match in succession when he fell to Collingwood in the gentle seamer’s first over, while White was removed by Woakes.
When Clarke did decide to take on the bowlers late in the innings, he fell to a poor shot, advancing down the wicket to Woakes and skying a catch to Strauss.