England eye 5-0 whitewash

ENGLAND are targeting an unprecedented 5-0 one-day international whitewash of Australia, after wrapping up the NatWest Series with two matches still to play.

Andrew Strauss' reinvigorated team had to dig deep at Old Trafford on Sunday to scramble the winning runs they needed to go 3-0 up, eventually getting home by a solitary wicket.

Nonetheless, having previously been coy about the prospect of winning every match against the old enemy this summer, an emboldened Strauss has dared to voice the ambition publicly to complete the sequence with wins at The Oval and Lord's this week.

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Should England do so, it will be significant revenge for last September's 6-1 home defeat by Australia in the corresponding series - and it would take their run of ODI victories against all opposition to 10 out of 10.

Some are contending too that it will give them a major psychological advantage over Australia for next winter's Ashes. Strauss does not buy that - but is enthused about England's prospects in a sub-continental World Cup early next year.

"I think it (a 5-0 victory] would instil us with a huge amount of confidence," said Strauss. "We're aiming for it - we're in a great position to do that now.

"We don't want to take our foot off the gas."