SAM BILLINGS scored his first England century but the World Cup reunion party was gatecrashed by blokes in yellow.
Billings was out for 118 from the last ball of the match as he and Jonny Bairstow prevented the shindig turning into a total anti-climax.
The planned celebration was still a one-sided affair, however, as a team containing nine of England’s World Cup-winning heroes from last summer was beaten by Australia by 19 runs.
When England slumped to 57-4 against some devastating bowling, it looked like they would suffer an absolute hammering.
Bairstow and Billings provided a veneer of respectability with a fifth-wicket stand of 113 that kept England in the game.
Opener Bairstow was out for 84 while Billings went on to a splendid run-a-ball hundred and displayed the talent that has persuaded England to retain him in squads for the past five years.
Perhaps, at the age of 29, it will be the breakthrough innings he craves.
Billings and Moeen Ali were the only two who didn’t play on that memorable day at Lord’s. Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes were the men missing yesterday.
But England couldn’t recapture their World Cup magic and went 1-0 down in the three-match series that concludes the international summer.
First, they allowed the Aussies to reach 294-9 after they were 123-5 and then their top-order batting was blown apart.
Australia fielded their Test pace attack of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins and England simply had no answer to their speed, accuracy and skill.
The trio provided a compelling reminder that they will be a heck of a handful in the 2021-22 Ashes campaign.
Hazlewood, in particular, was relentless and removed Jason Roy – with a brilliant, one-handed return catch – and Joe Root during an initial burst that produced figures of 6-3-5-2.
England’s total of 22-2 after ten overs was their lowest in the powerplay of a home one-day international since 2006.
Then leg-spinner Adam Zampa followed up by dispatching Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler in his first four overs for a cost of just six runs.
Bairstow managed just 26 runs from his first 65 balls but gradually found his timing and his 84 occupied 107 deliveries.
Captain Morgan said: “Sam’s chances have been limited over the years but he always has hunger and desire. And taking an opportunity like this shows strength of character.
“We lost the game in our first ten overs when Australia bowled superbly. They outplayed us today.”
Buttler, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood were playing their first 50-over matches since lifting the trophy.
Archer dismissed David Warner for the third time out of the three matches Warner has played on this tour while Wood took the wicket of Aussie skipper Aaron Finch with his first delivery. The pair ended with three scalps apiece.
Steve Smith was ruled out after being hit on the head again. He was ‘sconed’ by a member of Australia’s coaching staff using the dog-thrower gizmo in the nets on Thursday.
Last year, he went to hospital and missed the Headingley Test after being felled by an Archer bouncer at Lord’s.
Glenn Maxwell plundered 77 from 59 balls while Mitch Marsh contributed a more sedate 73 from 100 deliveries.