England Lack Middle-order Staying Power
Australia 260 for 5 (Ferguson 71*, Collingwood 2-47) beat England 256 for 8 (Bopara 49, Shah 40, Johnson 3-24) by 4 runs
England matched Australia in most aspects of the first ODI, yet the telling difference was a lack of anchor in England’s batting order.
In chasing a below par score of 260, England failed to produce a batsmen who accumulated and stayed in to guide the innings on an distinctly un-Oval-like wicket. Playing slow in comparison to the fast paced and bouncy wickets typically seen in one day games at the South London ground, batsmen required attentive and persistent play.
Shane Watson (46) provided a platform for Australia early on, as a score in excess of 280 looked feasible. Cameron White (53) and Callum Ferguson (71*) built upon the good start but were strangled in the middle stages of the innings by tight bowling and the panic-free captaincy expected of Andrew Strauss. Ferguson looked, at times, as if his feet were stuck in mud, at others, distinctly average. Yet he failed to relinquish his wicket and provided an anchor by which Australia could base their innings.
The middle sections of both innings, were, by and large dull, but crucial to the outcome of the game nonetheless. Both teams turned the screw, reducing the flow of runs and requiring patient and at times industrious batting. Adil Rashid continued to impress, not turning the ball much but displaying considerable control in line and length, as well as changes in pace. His figures, comprising of ten wicketless overs betrayed what was a marvellous exhibition of one day bowling. Quite remarkable, despite Rashid being a familiar face, this was the Yorkshire leg-spinner’s one-day debut. Nathan Haurtiz provided further evidence of the role he could and should have played in the deciding Ashes test, returning 9 overs for 44 runs and 2 wickets.
England’s batsmen, with their many starts, failed to hold on and dig deep to steer the innings toward the below par score. Bopara (49), who appeared to take the initiative was stumped by Tim Paine with diligent glovework and Collingwood scoring 23 was caught by Watson plucking the ball out of the air. Owais Shah (40), who one thought must stay and register a not-out to edge closer to Australia’s target, succumbed to an inevitable dismissal. So deep was Shah playing within his crease, he dislodged a single bail with his right foot, setting off for a single.
Luke Wright professed the desire to become a ‘finisher’ for England, his swashbuckling 38 providing a glimmer of hope as England battled to keep up with the spiralling run rate. His bizzare runout, following a no-ball, handed the reins to Adil Rashid, who further impacted on the game by taking England within touching distance, with 13 required off the final over.
Falling short by 4 runs, England would recognise the middle order, with its numerous starts, lacking an individual to remain and steer the innings to its conclusion.
The 1st ODI was a tale of the central periods of both innings. Those arguing against the 50-over format would point to the fairly lacklustre thirty overs which were sandwiched by the excitement of eager starts and power hungry endings. Yet it was such pivotal moments deep within the game, unattractive or otherwise which separated two evenly matched outfits.
Watch the England vs Australia 1st ODI Highlights
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