There will be no clean-sweep for England. It was too late to save the series but Australia’s batsmen, led by Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, finally delivered a total their bowlers could defend at The Oval. Ryan Harris did just that, with five wickets and a Man-of-the-Match award, that handed England a 78-run defeat and offset any disappointment for Clarke, who earlier had been stranded on 99 in setting up Australia’s 290 for 5.
England, set 213 to win, after off-spinner and man-of-the-match Graeme Swann took four wickets 37 runs, were cruising to victory at 185 for three. But they lost six wickets for 18 runs in 39 balls as they slumped to 203 for nine.
Confidence is surging through the veins of England’s cricketers both on and off the field as they sit with a 2-0 series lead over Australia. Paul Collingwood, who became his country’s leading one-day runscorer during the victory at Cardiff, called for the team to “go hard” before this series started and had no qualms about spelling out where the balance of power now lay.
“We’re confident every time we go out and play Australia. It’s not arrogance. We are now confident we can beat anyone in one-day cricket on any given day,” he said. “If you look at Australia’s record over the last year or so they still have that air of invincibility, because they haven’t lost many games. But we are the better side at the moment.”
There was no Eoin Morgan-like standout this time, but England still cruised to a comfortable four-wicket win to take a 2-0 lead in the series. From Stuart Broad’s three early wickets to an impressive Andrew Strauss half-century, to a coasting partnership from Paul Collingwood and Morgan to confirm the result, it was a thoroughly professional victory for the hosts.
On a day when Australia installed a Labor prime minister born in Wales, the nation’s cricketers laboured in Wales for no such reward. Cameron White ground out one of his least attractive half-centuries to drive Australia to 239 for 7 but that was never going to be enough on a surface that, while a little slow, was no minefield.
Pakistan’s players may wonder about the one that got away when they peer into the Australian dressing room during the series in England next month. Sitting there will be Usman Khawaja, a 23-year-old batsman, who was born in Islamabad.
Since Khawaja’s family moved to Sydney when he was three, he has developed into one of the most impressive young batsmen in the country, sworn his allegiance to the quest for a baggy green, and become a qualified pilot. If he plays at Lord’s or Leeds in July he will become Australia’s first Muslim Test cricketer by appearing against his country of birth.
It took England until the seventh and final ODI to beat Australia last year; nine months later, Eoin Morgan produced his best one-day international innings to ensure they would start the series on a high. Morgan’s unbeaten 103 was the standout performance of the match, more authoritative than Michael Clarke’s anchoring role for Australia, and it was enough to separate two sides that otherwise mirrored each other.
Before this game, Morgan had passed 80 on five occasions in ODIs, but those efforts had come against Bangladesh, Canada, Scotland or Netherlands. Triple figures against Australia is another thing entirely. He drove England home with four overs to spare, by which time the only real point of interest was whether he had enough runs to play with to reach his hundred.
Pakistan have not selected former captain Younis Khan, whose indefinite ban was recently overturned, in their Test and Twenty20 squads for the tour of England between June and September. Fast bowler Umar Gul has recovered from his shoulder injury and makes a comeback after missing the ICC World Twenty20 and the Asia Cup.
Younis, along with three team-mates, had been banned by the PCB following Pakistan’s winless tour of Australia in 2009-10. However, after filing appeals, Younis and Shoaib Malik were pardoned by the board. Malik made a comeback soon afterwards and played in the ongoing Asia Cup in Sri Lanka but Younis’ return has not been immediate.
A lightening 117-run opening stand between Andrew Strauss and Craig Kieswetter rocketed England to a seven-wicket victory with over a quarter of their innings to spare against Scotland in a sun-drenched Edinburgh.
Against some inviting medium-pace bowling, England were able pick up from where they left off in the World Twenty20, hitting 21 boundaries in the first 13 overs with Craig Kieswetter and Strauss matching each other stroke-for-stroke as they registered rapid half-centuries
Kevin Pietersen wants the inspiration from England’s Barbados victory over Australia in the World Twenty20 final to carry into the upcoming ODI series against Australia as thoughts turn to the Ashes series later this year.
England swept Australia aside to claim their first ICC title, with Pietersen finishing Player of the Tournament, and he believes the fact that the success came away from home will give England confidence that they can produce a repeat come the winter.
England, in overcast conditions and with the ball swinging spitefully, skittled out Bangladesh, following on, for just 123 inside 35 overs as they won the second Test by an innings and 80 runs inside three days at Old Trafford here on Sunday.
But no-one, least of all England, are kidding themselves that a series win over Bangladesh represents any kind of guide to their Ashes chances. England may hold the Ashes after a 2-1 win at home last year but it is 23 years since they last won a Test series in Australia.