Already, two matches into this series, a pattern is developing as Australia claimed a 2-0 lead with 39-run victory at Lord’s. Once again they were put into bat and managed only a par score as Callum Ferguson top-scored with 55, but then restricted a run-chase that England should have knocked off with ease, especially after reaching 74 without loss. England were guilty of repeating the same mistakes from The Oval as a number of their top-order made starts, but only Paul Collingwood passed fifty as he forlornly tried to hold the chase together.
The key performance in many ways, though, was Mitchell Johnson’s late assault with the bat after Australia had slumped to 208 for 8 in the 46th over. They didn’t look like using up their allocation, but Johnson swung powerfully to club 43 from 23 balls and add 41 off the last 4.2 overs with Nathan Hauritz. It should have been negated by the solid start between Andrew Strauss and Ravi Bopara, but four wickets in 32 balls including two in four by Shane Watson, either side of a fly-past by an RAF Lancaster Bomber, derailed England’s chase.
And whereas on Friday they managed to get close thanks to the lower-order, this time the chase limped along. While Collingwood, who reached 4000 ODI runs when he had made 14, had Graeme Swann for company in an eighth-wicket stand of 36 there was still a chance, but Swann’s mow across the line off a slower-ball from Nathan Bracken signalled the end. It was another example of an England batsman picking the wrong shot at the wrong time. The asking rate wasn’t out of control with the Powerplay still to come, but by the time Bracken finished a double-wicket maiden, which also included Ryan Sidebottom’s scalp, the game was up and the batting option hadn’t been used.
Of further frustration for England - as they lost all ten wickets for 136 - was that they were comfortably ahead of Australia’s comparison well into the final 10 overs. Strauss had been quickest out of the blocks as he showed the adaptability that is now part of his batting and he and Bopara then began to feast on some loose offerings from James Hopes.
However, Watson’s introduction changed the game when Bopara walked across his stumps and was struck in front of middle. Watson, who struggled with the ball during his brief spells in the Ashes, celebrated with vigour and was at it again when Prior drove loosely without much footwork.
Strauss’s demise came two balls after a fly-past from a Lancaster Bomber that brought the Lord’s crowd to their feet as it flew in over the Nursery Ground, then turned and made a return pass. The event was to commemorate 65 years since Lord’s was handed back after being used as a RAF receiving base in World War Two. The players came onto the balcony to watch, and Strauss was soon rejoining them as he tried to work Hauritz into the leg side and chipped a gentle leading edge back to the bowler.
Owais Shah announced his intentions by coming down the pitch and hammering Hauritz over wide mid-off for an authoritative boundary. But the combination of Collingwood and Shah at the crease did suggest some chaos with the running, with one of team’s quickest alongside one of the slowest.
Collingwood played the ball to the off side and wanted the single but saw Shah hesitate. That caused Collingwood to stutter and by the time both began running it was far too late, with Shah being the casualty. It adds to the lengthy list of run-outs Shah has been involved in and it is a significant problem. To Collingwood’s credit he refocused well, but couldn’t find anyone to stay with him.
Eoin Morgan was pinned lbw by Johnson and Luke Wright, with time to build an innings, wafted at the hostile and accurate Brett Lee before Tim Bresnan fell to a weak cut against Johnson. There are plenty of Australians with points to prove in this series, Lee and Johnson being two of them, and so far that is a major difference.
Australia had also stumbled after a solid opening stand, but had enough in the tank to stage a recovery. Bresnan, recalled after Stuart Broad was ruled out with a stiff neck, broke the first-wicket partnership of 62 when Watson drove to cover where Wright held a sharp, mid-air catch.
Then it was Wright the bowler who took charge as Tim Paine pulled a short ball to deep midwicket where Morgan, playing as extra batting cover in place of Adil Rashid, steadied himself well under a spiralling catch. Wright, showing the pace he has added this season, then had Michael Clarke caught behind top-edging a pull. The innings was steadied by Ferguson and Cameron White as the pair added 59 before Bopara had White caught behind first-ball.
Swann ensured that Australia’s middle order struggled to find momentum when he removed Michael Hussey with one that straightened a fraction, and also trapped Hopes on the sweep. However, Ferguson remained and notched another half-century, to continue a prolific start to his international career, until playing round a straight ball to give James Anderson his first wicket since August 3. England should have aimed to bowl Australia out, but instead they lost some intensity in the closing overs as Johnson freed his arms and those runs proved the difference. There isn’t much between these sides, but at the moment it’s enough.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, September 7th, 2009 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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