England Deaf on the verge of a historic Ashes win
A brilliantly paced, patient unbeaten 82 from Josh Price eased England to a seven-wicket victory over Australia in the opening ODI in Brisbane to put the Deaf Ashes within tantalising reach.
Guaranteed a share of the spoils, George Greenway’s men now need one win from the remaining two games to lift the trophy for the first time.
After Australia’s dramatic super-over win in Sunday’s final T20 encounter reduced England’s lead to 3-2, the first 50-over contest offered a stern examination of the visitors’ mettle. They passed it with flying colours. Having put the hosts in, an exemplary bowling performance restricted them to 208 all out inside 45 overs.
When the feisty Greenway bunted the ball to the boundary boards to surpass Australia’s tally with 9.2 overs left – reaching a 38-ball 50 into the bargain – his throaty roar and delighted fist punch was evidence of how close England are to glory and how much that means.
Australia’s own aggressive instincts had been tamed. Strike bowlers Farooq Mohammed and James Dixon offered precious little, hitting nagging lines and regularly beating the bat. Dixon removed the dangerous Dave Melling leg before for 11 with the score 35 in the 11th over before his opening partner bowled Luke Trudgett (25 from 37), whose increasing frustration had been evident. That left Australia hobbling at 46-2 after 13. A fantastic spell from left-arm spinner Henry Wainman (1-22), whose first five overs went for only four, tied the hosts down, with Nick Budden taking 58 deliveries over 20.
Australia owed their total to Austin Philip, whose 55-ball 65 released the pressure. When he was dismissed – bowled by that man Price at 191-7 in the 41stover – the end was nigh, with the last three wickets adding just two.
England got off to a solid watchful start, as Price and the evergreen Umesh Valjee (20) added 33 before a stand of 79 for the second wicket with Joel Harris (35 from 58) took them to 111-2, before Harris fell to Andrew Park with the final ball of the 25th over.
James Schofield’s dismissal at 132-3 in the 30th over saw Greenway join Price – who’d reached his 50 from a watchful 83 balls. Once the target was within sight, the pair went through the gears to take the game away in a flurry of fours. The hosts, a bowler down after Callum Asbury was hit in the face by a thumping Harris drive – now have it all to do to save their skins.
Price said the challenge had been to show discipline with the bat after Sunday’s disappointment.
“Before, I feel like I’ve got out trying to hit fours. So I said to myself before I went out that I was going to get to 20 in singles – and then the fours will come.
“We were looking to apply the things learned from Sunday, when we kind of took our ego out there and tried and do it too quickly.
“We feel we’re stronger than we showed then as a team – today proved that. The application was there – Joel and George batted brilliantly – and the bowlers were good. There are two more games to go. We just need one to win the Ashes – and I’m confident we can win both.”
The second ODI is at 11.30 BST on Wednesday night, with the final match on Thursday at the same time.