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Thursday, January 27, 2011

England keep ODI series alive with comfortable win at Adelaide


England 8/299 (50 0v, J Trott 102, M Prior 67, D Hussey 4/21, S Smith 3/33) def Australia 7/278 (50 0v, S Watson 64) by 21 runs: ODI #4/7 at Adelaide Oval. Australia lead series 3-1.

For various reasons I haven't watched a lot of cricket since the Ashes Tests, but yesterday I went to the Adelaide Oval to see if Australia could wrap up the seven match series with a fourth consecutive victory.
They couldn't, and England won comfortably - far more comfortably than a margin of 21 runs suggests. But at least the match lasted longer than the 59 over 2007 match , ie into the night.

Andrew Strauss won the toss and, not surprisingly given a warm (29deg C), sunny day and a good pitch, chose to bat.

Brett Lee's first over went for 12 (in 2007 he'd bowled 8 for 8 runs and 2 wickets) and while in his second he made amends of sorts when Strauss edged him to the keeper. 1/23 from 17 balls was evidence of England's intentions and the waywardness of Australia's bowling. Jonathon Trott joined Matt Prior, who having, at the third attempt, opened his account for the series, continued to punish the bowling. Trott didn't waste too many opportunities but built his innings more methodically than his partner who posted his 50 with a six off Lee.

While Michael Clarke switched the four quicker bowlers around none of them looked especially penetrative There were a couple of run out chances which the Australians missed (neither side was at its best in the hitting the stumps department), otherwise the score mounted and a 300+ total looked more and more likely as the 100 was posted in 15 overs.

Xavier Doherty then came on. He conceded only 1 one in his first over, encouraging Clarke to throw the ball to Steven Smith, who bowled one scratchy over for 9 runs before Prior cut the first ball of his second to point. Prior's 67/58b (1x6, 8x4) out of 136 from 22.1 overs was as good a launching pad as could have been expected, and there was plenty more batting to come.

But as Doherty bowled steadily at one end for 10 straight overs for 44 Smith struck again...and again, as Kevin Pietersen hit a catch to long on and Ian Bell came down the wicket to his second ball and was smartly caught behind by Brad Haddin.

4/158 wasn't quite what the ideal England script would have read, but it weasn't bad either, espeically Trott was still there moving along at his own pace (which wasn't as slow as some had thought). Eoin Morgan joined him and together, as Clarke shuffled the quick bowlers, they kept moving things along. Then, when we were wondering when (or even whether) David Hussey would be given a bowl, he came on for the 40th over of the innings, during which he induced Trott, who'd perhaps relaxed after reaching his century, to edge a turning ball onto his stumps. Trott's 102/126b (6x4) was a masterly innings of quiet aggression which confirmed England's superiority.

Hussey struck again with the first ball of his second over, having Morgan caught at point/ square leg reverse sweeping. 6/227 and Australia were at last in with a chance of restricting England to well under 300.

But Clarke took Hussey (2/3 from 2 overs) off and brought Lee and Doug Bollinger back. Neither had hitherto bowled well, and nor did they improve much as Paul Collingwood 27/27b (1x6, 2x4) and Michael Yardy 39*/27b (6x4) made hay under the floodlights. This was a failure on Clarke's part to read the game: in the more leisurely atmosphere of a Test match it would have been fine, but here, where spin had held England if not in check then under greater restraint, he should have given Hussey another over or two, Powerplay or imminent innnigs end notwithstanding.

As it happened the quicker bowlers continued in their expensive vein so he had to come back , and took two more wickets, finishing with the surprising (though not entirely undeserved ) analysis of 4-0-21-4. The three slow bowlers collectively bowled 21 overs and took 7/98 whereas the four quick ones bowled 29 0vers for 1/197. Enough said?

300 looked beyond Australia's grasp, though they gave it a reasonable shot and at least gave the scorecard the illusion of a close finish. But in the first phase a slow run rate, with the first 100 taking 30 balls longer than England's (120 v 90 b), and the loss of three wickets, including yet another modest score by Clarke, put England in control. Its quick bowling was tighter than Australia's (Jimmy Anderson bowled the only maiden of the contest) and if Yardy's slow-medium darts were milked, Collingwood and, surprisingly, Trott with their gently probing medium pace prevented any breakaway, and took 3 wickets between them.

From this point a Shane Watson century was Australia's best hope. But on this, as on other occasions (and he shouldn't be criticised for this: at least he's scoring runs), it wasn't forthcoming for at 116 he was caught behind off Ajmal Shahzad for a worthy 64/72b (1x6, 5x4).

Neither Cameron White, despite his big hitting reputation, nor David Hussey were able to move things along. They spent some time playing themselves in before falling to Trott. White's 44/64b was especially disappointing: he rarely looked in command and only hit two fours.

After they were out Smith played aggressively, but not aggressively enough to haul the asking rate back to where a final overs tilt at the total might have been feasible. After John Hastings went cheaply (IMO Dan Christian has a better claim on his place: maybe not as good a bowler but a more punishing lower order batter), Lee (who should have gone in ahead of Hastings) 39*/32b (5x4) and Smith 46*/47b (4x4) added 78 in the last 10 overs in what became, as the possibility of victory faded, centre wicket practice.

The metaphorical fireworks required for Australia to snatch an improbable victory didn't eventuate before the real fireworks commemorating Australia Day brought proceedings to a close. .


A good game, which showed many of the best features of 50 over cricket. There were few controversies and the umpires controlled the game well. It was good to see Simon Fry, with whom I played cricket many years ago, umpiring his first ODI after many years as fourth umpire.

The overlong 7 match series is not yet over. On this occasion England looked a more complete team than Australia, but the gap between them isn't wide enough to make the results of the last three games easy to predict.

Scorecard

Fox Sports report with link to video highlights.
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