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Australia v England, CB Series, 7th match, Adelaide

Embarrassing England sink to new low

Peter English

January 26, 2007

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Australia 1 for 111 (Ponting 51*) beat England 110 (Bell 35, Johnson 4-45, Lee 2-8) by 9 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary



Adam Gilchrist was Australia's only casualty in the comfortable chase © Getty Images
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England have spluttered to so many deflating losses on this tour that even rabid and patriotic Australian supporters have started pleading for them to lift off the bottom. After today's nine-wicket caning in a match lasting only 59 overs the same thought stands. Please can this be the turning point?

There is still time for England repairs - the CB Series has just passed the halfway point and, amazingly, they could reach the finals easily - but on this performance they would have been lucky to have achieved anything positive in the World Cup warm-up for the minnows in Kenya. Throughout the tour Andrew Flintoff has spoken proudly about the strong spirit in the dressing room, but his men have been unable to transform the talk and have slumped horribly since a brief change of direction against New Zealand in Hobart.

For some reason Adelaide, the most beautiful of grounds, turns England into their ugliest. They were badly pockmarked during the final day of the second Test, when they effectively handed over the Ashes, and the scars remained during their dismantling for 120 in a hefty defeat to New Zealand on Tuesday. Somehow they managed to be even worse today and lost a day-night game well before the sun set.

England failed to bat through their 50 overs for the third match in a row and were dismissed for an embarrassing 110. Australia's bowling attack, which was led by Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee, performed superbly but the standard of the opposition had a huge say in the 34.3-over demolition. The batsmen were as lost as stray cattle and nobody showed the symptoms like Paul Collingwood.

In the middle of the Test series he was England's hardest batsman to dismiss, but he has become so torn he can't trust himself to follow through. The overall feelings of confusion and lack of patience were on display as he stepped down to Andrew Symonds and chipped him limply to mid-off. He was the fifth victim in only the 21st over and a recovery was impossible, especially when the final five wickets went for seven runs.



Ian Bell's 35 was the high point of a dismal England performance © Getty Images
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The conditions were sunny and the pitch held as many demons as St Peter's Cathedral at the northern end of the ground. Adam Gilchrist waited for Liam Plunkett's third over to flex four boundaries, but he was run-out when sent back by Matthew Hayden for a brisk 23. Hayden ground out 30 and Ricky Ponting, who swept to 51 from 61 balls, raised Australia's ninth win of the season over England. There were a massive 25.3 overs to spare and they picked up another bonus point.

The result was almost guaranteed when Andrew Flintoff, the captain and the last of the recognised batsmen, departed for 16, leaving England at 103. Johnson opened the bowling as Australia rested Nathan Bracken and Glenn McGrath and he settled down after being belted on to the roof of a Chappell stand by a Mal Loye slog-sweep. His second spell was impressive and he finished with 4 for 45 after gaining edges from a lead-footed Flintoff, Jamie Dalrymple and Liam Plunkett.

Lee started the procession with Loye's wild nick and the England players were unable to get him away as he gave up eight runs in eight overs. Ed Joyce was Lee's second victim when he failed to muscle him over mid-on and a lack of discretion was one of the key reasons why the tourists faltered. They quickly took on more water as the tail followed as meekly as the specialists and Brad Hogg, who was playing his first game of the series, cleaned up with two wickets.

England lost both their openers within the first 12 overs and the severe problems in the rest of the order showed no signs of disappearing. Loye was out for the third time in three games edging outside offstump when he swung at Lee on 9 and Strauss (17) followed when attempting a glide from Johnson.

The nick gave Gilchrist a second catch and maintained the pressure on England's middle order, which could not cope. It seemed like Bell would guide England's target setting when he started with a string of strong boundaries, but he had moved smoothly to 35 when he cut hard at a Stuart Clark short ball, finding Michael Clarke at point and leaving England at 3 for 72. From there things got much worse and as the home supporters enjoyed the national holiday it was definitely Australia's Day.

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo

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