Australia simply too good in every department

Stephen Lamb

January 23, 2003

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The chasm in class that exists between Australia and England was laid bare before a rapturous full house in the first final of the VB series in Sydney.

After shooting out the tourists for just 117, Australia made a succulent meal of the chase, passing the target in an almost incredible 12 overs and two balls, without losing a wicket. Adam Gilchrist, not content with six scalps during England's innings, produced something sensational even by his exalted standards to complete what amounted to a mismatch.

Gilchrist had promised something special before the game, but this was better than special. He ran England's bowlers ragged from the outset, pummelling Andrew Caddick on either side of the ground for five fours from six deliveries in his third over. Nor was there any escape for James Anderson, as Australia romped to 55 without loss from the first six overs. When Matthew Hoggard replaced Caddick, his first two deliveries disappeared through extra cover and third man.

It is almost impossible to imagine a more brutal onslaught. Shuffle his field though he might, Nasser Hussain had no answers. To the delight of the crowd, Gilchrist pulled, drove and cut his way to 69 off 37 balls in an unforgettable display of raw aggression. Australia's hundred, unbelievably, came off just 62 deliveries, 19 of which were dispatched to the boundary. It was scintillating batting, the like of which is rarely seen in cricket.

Matthew Hayden was sedate by comparison with Gilchrist, but he made his mark emphatically near the end with six off Ronnie Irani. Alec Stewart missed him in the same over, but it could hardly have been less relevant. It was Hayden who applied the coup de grace, with two off Hoggard through mid-wicket.

The early pace was set - in every sense - by Brett Lee, who reached speeds of 93 mph after Hussain won the toss and chose to bat. There was nothing Marcus Trescothick could do to avoid a sharply lifting ball that brushed his glove on the way through to Gilchrist.

Another Lee lifter accounted for Nick Knight, who would have been run out earlier had Brad Hogg hit the stumps as Knight attempted a sharp single into the covers. Gilchrist took his second catch from an uncertain fend to leg.

Hussain had scored just a single when an excellent in-swinger from Brad Williams induced an inside edge on to the England captain's stumps. Stewart, after a positive start, was unfortunate to get the cue end of his bat on to a ball from Williams that looped up for another Gilchrist catch.

Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood began a rescue attempt before Vaughan, after driving both Lee and Williams to the rope, became the first of two quick wickets for Andy Bichel, adjudged lbw after being hit on the knee roll. Two balls later Ian Blackwell had gone for another duck, sparring outside the off stump for Ricky Ponting to pouch the catch at second slip.

Shane Warne produced an absolute beauty to send back Collingwood, who again batted stoutly for 43 before he came down the pitch and was left stranded by a sharply turning leg-spinner. Warne, who had announced his retirement from one-day internationals 24 hours earlier, received a rousing ovation from the SCG crowd as he finished his final one-day spell there with an England scalp.

Irani swung Lee to Bichel at mid-on before Anderson and Hoggard provided Gilchrist with his fourth and fifth catches of the innings, both off Bichel. England had been blown away by a bowling masterclass, the prelude to a batting assault that seemed almost superhuman in its belligerence.

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