England 201-2 (Bell 69, Trott 64no) beat
Australia 200-9 (Finn 4-37) by eight wickets
Fourth One-Day International, Chester-le-Street
England cruised to their target of 201 with eight wickets and 13 balls to spare; in doing so winning the series against Australia by three matches to none with a game still to play at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
The day began well for the home side as Alastair Cook won an important toss and had no hesitation in inserting the opposition. James Anderson and Steven Finn both opened with maidens and Australia had crawled to six without loss halfway through the first powerplay, as the ball moved prodigiously off the seam – not a surprise given the recent unsettled weather in England.
They lost their first wicket when David Warner was struck on the pad plumb in front of middle stump off Steven Finn. They did require a helping hand from the DRS in getting the decision, but the right one was nonetheless reached in the end. Finn then dismissed Peter Forrest to the very next ball to put himself on a hat-trick for the first of what would be two times in the match.
The Australians rallied briefly with the arrival of their captain Michael Clarke as he added 51 in little more than 13 overs with Shane Watson. Watson hit 14 off one Stuart Broad over, but he departed soon afterwards – bowled by Tim Bresnan for 28 – to make it 57 for three. George Bailey was the next man to go, bowled by an absolute pearler from Ravi Bopara for just nine. Bopara pitched the ball on middle stump and got it to leave Bailey just enough to beat his forward push and clip the top of the off bail. Worryingly, it was the fourth time Bailey has been bowled in five innings on this mini-tour of England – a sequence that began against Leicestershire on 21st June when he was cleaned up by Abdul Razzaq.
Meanwhile, throughout all of this, Clarke was leading a charmed life. He was dropped by Eoin Morgan when he had scored only eight and was given a leg-before reprieve by the umpire and by England when on 28, before completing the hat-trick by being shelled by James Anderson at slip on 31. However, his luck ran out as he became the first victim of another Steven Finn double-strike. He drove loosely at a full ball from the tall Middlesex man and lost his off-stump, before being followed back to the pavilion by wicket-keeper Matthew Wade, who edged behind first ball.
At 96 for six in 33rd over, Australia were heading straight for oblivion, and it was left to a combative seventh-wicket stand of 70 in 13 overs between Brett Lee and David Hussey to restore some pride. The pair began cautiously at first, before accelerating, with Lee flicking Anderson nonchalantly for six at one stage. However, Anderson got his revenge, having Lee caught by Stuart Broad in the deep to claim his 500th international wicket soon afterwards.
Hussey finally departed for an excellent 70 – his 15th international half-century – in the final over as the innings ended with the score on exactly 200. Finn was by far the pick of England’s attack, ending with four for 37, while James Anderson, who had bowled a miserly opening spell, and Tim Bresnan ended with two apiece.
England would have reckoned on finding life difficult at the start of their innings. However, despite some playing and missing, and partly because of an injury to Brett Lee – who limped off in his third over – Alastair Cook and Ian Bell survived the opening powerplay unscathed. They added 42 without loss in the first ten overs, compared to Australia’s 15 for two, and advanced the score to 70 before Cook was prised out by the impressive Clint McKay for 29.
However, it was to only be a brief blip, as Bell brought up another fifty and was joined by Jonathan Trott for a second-wicket stand of 66 which extinguished what remained of any Australian’s optimism. He was bowled by McKay for 69, but Trott also passed fifty and was accompanied by Ravi Bopara (33 not out) when the winning runs were hit off David Hussey’s innocuous off-spin.
The result means that England clinch the series with a game still to play and will have surprised many by the ease with which they have achieved victory over the number one ranked side in the world. Indeed, the manner in which they have dominated Australia this series led one pundit to remark that the tourists will have to play a series involving the England Lions next time they tour – a reference to when England were beaten to the final of a quadrangular tournament by Australia’s A side in 1994-5. How things have changed.
© Cricket World 2012
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