It was 78 days in the making but courtesy of Jason Roy’s destructive, record-breaking hundred England finally registered a win over Australia on this tour.
And how. This was the kind of ruthless performance to consign the Test woes that dogged them until a week ago well and truly in the past, as Roy led another blitz on England’s previous highs.
On a personal level, the Surrey batsman is now the holder of the highest score by an England batsman in five decades of one-day internationals after overtaking the 171 of team-mate Alex Hales against Pakistan.
The England opener leaps for joy after reaching his first ODI century since 2016
Jason Roy departs the field after eventually holing out with the finish line in sight
Roy hit 180 from 151 balls to post England’s highest ever ODI score, beating Alex Hales’ 171
Joe Root shared a 221-run partnership with Roy for the third wicket at the MCG
His 180 also makes him the holder of the highest individual ODI score at the MCG.
And there were further notches on the belt from a team perspective in another display of this team charting new ground.
In knocking off their 305-run target, with five wickets and seven balls to spare, they equaled England’s highest chase overseas set versus Pakistan in Karachi 18 years ago and also set a new high for the MCG, surpassing the 295 the 2010-11 Ashes winners achieved in this corresponding fixture.
The cheap departures of captain Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler, on his 100th one-day international appearance followed, after Roy succumbed to a tired shot towards this death but this was an emphatic response to the challenge of proving England can be successful abroad.
Answering Morgan’s pre-series call to begin on the front foot, Roy shrugged off a barren Big Bash League return of 62 runs in six innings to crash 16 fours and five sixes in his 151-ball innings.
Aaron Finch raises his bat and helmet in celebration after reaching three figures on Sunday
Finch scored 107 from 118 deliveries to lead Australia to 304 for eight in the first ODI
Mark Wood brought some pace and hostility to the bowling attack to snare David Warner
Jos Buttler celebrates after catching Steve Smith behind to dismiss the Australian captain
He simply hurtled out of the blocks, turning the pace of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins that terrorized England’s batsmen during the Ashes against them.
The faster it came down, the quicker it reached the boundary during a high-octane start that saw the team 50 come up in just 4.2 overs.
Sure, Roy rode his luck, top-edging a six off left-armer Starc but there were strokes of high finesse too as England showed that they are totally different proposition to the 2015 outfit that crashed out of the World Cup here in such meek fashion.
Even when Jonny Bairstow and Hales – back from an ECB-imposed suspension to bat at No 3 – were dismissed in quick succession there was no sense of panic.
That did arrive briefly when, after reaching 87 for two after the first powerplay, England went a full 10 overs without finding the rope.
Joe Root, contributing a barely-noticed unbeaten half-century after recovering from fifth Test dehydration, remained unperturbed but boundary-addict Roy took several hacks before getting a fortuitous four to fine leg off the returning Cummins.
Despite a couple of moments of fortune when the ball dropped in no-man’s land, the 27-year-old went chanceless until successfully reviewing a leg-before decision against Adam Zampa on 91.
From the moment he skipped down to launch the next ball over Australian centurion Aaron Finch’s head at long-on, he returned to overdrive.
Helping a delivery from the debutant seamer Andrew Tye into the vacant acreage at midwicket, he scampered through for the three runs that took him to a fourth career ODI hundred, off 92 balls.
Liam Plunkett is embraced by Mark Wood after claiming the wicket of Travis Head
Mitchell Marsh scored a breezy half-century before he was bowled by Adil Rashid
Just as Finch had done earlier in the day to Adil Rashid, he picked off the leg-spinner Zampa over long-on for three of his five sixes.
And until he skied one off Starc with just 24 runs required for victory he made batting on this ground look as easy as Finch does whenever he faces England.
There is a certain inevitability about the outcome: three innings now, three hundreds. His latest was constructed through the loss of three early wickets that provided England with the initiative after winning the toss.
However, during Finch’s fourth-wicket partnership with Mitchell Marsh it looked like Australia were on course for a target to 330-plus.
But they were stymied by both their dismissals within the space of 13 balls as
Finch picked out deep midwicket trying to break the manacles Moeen Ali had imposed from the members’ end, and Marsh – fresh from a three-figure Ashes average – was castled by Rashid’s googly.
Late order hitting from Marcus Stoinis helped send Australia past 300 in their innings
England captain Eoin Morgan almost takes a spectacular to dismiss Australian lynchpin Warner
Earlier, Steve Smith’s departure to an innocuous Rashid delivery followed Austalia being rocked for the first time this winter by England confronting them with genuine pace.
Mark Wood’s opening delivery seared past David Warner’s nose, his third was cut unconvincingly to cover where Morgan got fingertips to a spectacular attempted catch – and the fifth ballooned skywards for Joe Root to complete the dismissal, running in from second slip.
The Durham fast bowler’s opening burst provided an electrifying passage of play during which his average delivery was clocked at 88 miles per hour and his fastest in excess of 93.
That Australia scrambled to 304-8 was down to a late 40-ball 60 from Marcus Stoinis on his first home ODI appearance – but Roy made sure it was never going to be enough.