Sunday, 19 January 2014

Aussies in the Last Chance Saloon

England have one hand on the Ashes Trophy after cruising to a seven wicket win against the Southern Stars at the MCG in the first of three ODIs. It gives them an 8-0 lead in the Ashes Series and means the Aussies need to win all five of the remaining matches (two ODIs and three T20Is) if they are to take back the trophy that England wrestled from them last summer.

Stand-in skipper Meg Lanning, deputising for Jodie Fields who broke a finger in training the previous day, won the toss and decided to bat. She and Elyse Villani again opened the batting, but after ten overs Villani had gone lbw to Shrubsole for a painful eight off twenty three balls and Lanning had just 13. The Aussies had crept to 33/1 in the face of accurate bowling from Shrubsole and Kate Cross, England’s Katherine Brunt sitting out another game due to her recurring back injury. Whether or not the Aussies had decided to target first-change bowler Jenny Gunn is unclear, but Lanning (13) drove hard at her first ball and edged through to Heather Knight in the gully.

Alex Blackwell, coming off a pair in the Test Match, started tentatively as did the out-of-form Jess Cameron. Against Gunn, Nat Sciver and Dani Hazell, they plodded their way to 62/2 at the end of the 23rd over, hitting just four boundaries in the intervening 13 overs. No wonder then that Cameron’s eyes lit up at the introduction of the erratic off-spin of Danni Wyatt. Having taken six off the first four balls Cameron (21) slapped the fifth to Shrubsole at mid-off and had to trudge off. Wyatt was withdrawn from the attack to be replaced by Arran Brindle.

Ellyse Perry joined her former skipper and slowly they went about rebuilding the Aussie innings. The run rate barely crept above three an over as they made steady if unspectacular progress thanks to accurate bowling and conservative field placings from Charlotte Edwards, who seemed very content to restrict the scoring. It worked until the end of the 44th over, where the Aussies stood at 148/3. From there on in Blackwell (82*) and Perry (65*) took 61 runs off the last six overs, including 16 off Danni Wyatt’s only other over, to finish on 209/3. Gunn and Hazell had gone for 30 off their ten overs and Cross, Sciver and Brindle had gone at four an over or less. On a decent pitch and with short boundaries it looked at least 50 runs light.

England’s reply was anything but pedestrian as Charlotte Edwards clipped and drove Perry and Rene Farrell to the boundary in the first few overs. Heather Knight (9) was less convincing and it was no great surprise when she nicked Julie Hunter, in for the injured Sarah Coyte, to Cameron standing alone at fourth slip. Sarah Taylor (9) fell to the spin of Osborne, chipping her to mid-on, and then Edwards (41) played all round a straight ball from Holly Ferling to leave England in exactly the same position as the Aussies had been at 68/3, albeit in the 19th rather than the 25th over of their innings.

Once again Lydia Greenway and Arran Brindle set about stabilising and then rebuilding the England innings. Initially Brindle was the more fluid nudging and nurdling singles, whereas Greenway simply dug-in, taking 17 balls to get off the mark. But what they did not do was panic. They were happy to pick up the singles where they could (in fact often where they should not have), along with the occasional boundary, and slowly the England score crept up. They reached a hundred in the 29th over, in which Jess Jonassen gave Brindle a life dropping a smart caught and bowled chance. From there on the single-taking became more urgent and the Aussie fielding began to slip.

40 overs saw the score at 161/3 and England were effectively home and hosed. Another run out chance came and went and Jonassen dropped Brindle again off her own bowling, but by this time the Aussies were a spent force. Even the talismanic Perry could do nothing for them as she sprayed the ball to off and leg as she strived for the breakthrough.
It never came. Arran Brindle struck the winning runs in the 47th over as she and Greenway shared an unbroken partnership of 142. Greenway, named player of the match, finished unbeaten on 69 and Brindle on 64.
It was a comprehensive victory for England, who seem to have the measure of a rather deflated Aussie team, who seemed hindered by their own lack of confidence. Their chances of making a spectacular comeback in the series look all but dead and buried.


1 comment:

  1. "England light on spinners in Aus Squad" (your blog 11th Dec) ....... um, looks a bit like it.
    Still, we are winning and I guess that's what matters.