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Saturday, February 03, 2007

England redux

After The Advertiser via its online outlet Adelaide Now had suggested a contest for a wooden spoon between the, to date, weakest international and domestic teams (England and South Australia), England against my, and I think just about everyone else's, expectations rose like Lazarus and defeated Australia.

England est redux, if I may make so bold with my schoolboy Latin.

No, I'm not joking, here is the official, or at least Cricinfo, scorecard.

The Channel 9 wise men, Messrs Nicholas, Taylor and Healy, in their pre-match comments agreed that 220 would be a reasonable score on the SCG pitch. How then did England make 7/292 from 50 overs? Well yes, they rode their luck, eg an easy catch dropped by Shaun Tate, but to give them due credit Ed Joyce beat against the current of expectations by scoring a century (107/142), while there was some handy support from several others. The Australian bowling did not live up to its reputation for unremitting accuracy, with ODI debutant Shaun Tait bowling inaccurately but at high speed and Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark conceding more runs that is their custom. The fifth bowling slot, shared between Clarke, Symonds and White, did not deliver much. The fielding also, apart from gross errors such as Tait's dropping an easy chance at deep backward point, lacked the usual Australian zest, so a few more runs than would normally have been allowed were conceded.

Australia began their innings with the wind knocked out of their sails by England's unexpected resistance and the loss of Adam Gilchrist to Liam Plunkett's first ball. They were never able to mount a half decent challenge, though not too many people would have written them off until Mr SnickitCricket (Michael Hussey)was out at 137 (or perhaps later. Wickets fell and they were dismissed for 200 (Symonds had retired hurt) in 38.5 overs. This is the score we've been accustomed to seeing from England.

Is England's performance a new dawn or an aberration? Impressive as it was I gained the impression watching the first part of the game on television that Australia had mentally eased off, perhaps partly to minimise the risk of injuries to key players and partly because they expected another tame English surrender. That didn't happen but I'd expect Australia to come out fighting in the next game, that is to say today was an aberration.

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