Byline: MYLES HODGSON in Canberra
ENGLAND slumped to their most convincing defeat in the build-up to the oneday series today when the Prime Minister's XI cruised to a fourwicket victory with 10.2 overs to spare at the Manuka Oval.
The tourists were completely outplayed and were dismissed for 152 before Lee Carseldine hit a determined 46 and captain Mark Waugh 42 to ensure England lost their fifth successive match.
Sussex seamer James Kirtley had earlier lifted English hopes of salvaging their first triumph by capturing three early wickets, starting with opener Brad Haddin, who was trapped leg before as he tried to pull, and Simon Katich who was bowled around his legs attempting to clip past square leg.
Kirtley followed up by yorking Mark Higgs, named in Australia's provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup, before Paul Collingwood and Craig White claimed a wicket apiece to remove Matt Bradley and Carseldine.
The tourists had earlier been saved from another humiliation with Academy pair Chris Read and Gareth Batty forging a crucial 61-run eighth-wicket partnership spanning 13 overs to guide their side into three figures and past the previous worst total in the fixture of 143 recorded by England in 1994.
They halted a slide after the decision to bat first on a lively wicket backfired for acting captain Marcus Trescothick, standing in for the resting Nasser Hussain, as his side collapsed once again to 85 for seven.
Worcestershire offspinner Batty hit a determined 29 while Read top-scored with an unbeaten 33 in an innings where only four players managed to pass 20.
England's innings began badly and deteriorated quickly. Opener Nick Knight was the first to fall, becoming the first of three victims for seamer Paul Rofe when he got a bottom edge onto his stumps attempting an expansive drive outside off stump in the fourth over to begin a collapse of seven for 72 in 22 overs. …