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On the Ball, Australia v England, Antigua
Australia were too good for England
April 8, 2007
The game was closely fought but Australia were the clear winners
 
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Australia had a good win against England but it wasn't quite as easy as it looked on the scorecard and in fact they had to work extremely hard to pull England back. There were a couple of early wickets, and now it's almost mandatory that England lose two early wickets. Michael Vaughan is in horrible form and they changed the batting order, they reinstated Andrew Strauss and he was out early. Shaun Tait bowled really well on a pitch that was in favour of the batsmen.



'That's a catch in my book. I don't care what the law says, really the only thing that matters is that the fieldsmen is controlling the ball' © Getty Images

Then there was a terrific partnership between Ian Bell, who had been promoted to open, and Kevin Pietersen coming at No. 4, and they looked totally in control. They built the partnership up, they built the confidence up, and they did it with a mixture of good running between the wickets and some excellent shots. By the time they had taken the score into the 160s, it looked as though England were headed for a total in excess of 300.

But Ricky Ponting had been forced, basically, to leave his third powerplay a bit late and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Australian captain. They got Bell out; it was a soft dismissal after a very good innings and he played extremely well for his 70-odd. Too many times he tries to hit the ball in the air through the field rather than over the field. He holed out from Glenn McGrath, Tait came back and produced a good delivery to get rid of Paul Collingwood and the England momentum stopped. Pietersen went on to score a century - he has been criticised for not scoring enough hundreds and I am not sure that it is a valid criticism and he got the hundred today.

England should have got around 300, but Australia restricted them to 247 with some good finishing bowling. That looked as though it would be a reasonable chase for Australia. It was going along very nicely and once again Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist got them off to a good start but they lost a couple of wickets. Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke were held in check with some good steady bowling from England but they just weren't able to take enough wickets.

Ponting, who is in unbelievably good form, and Clarke took a few risks with their running between the wickets but England couldn't hit the stumps - not until it was too late. Eventually Ponting was run out when he looked like he was going to be the first man ever to reach five centuries in the World Cup. There was a terrific throw from Collingwood, Ponting was run out and that revived England a little bit.

Kevin Pietersen, with a magnificent piece of athleticism and acrobatic fielding, took a wonderful catch out near the boundary; Andrew Symonds had hit the ball. Pietersen had the ball, I counted five paces, and his feet landed after he had the ball in his hand so that's a catch in my book. I don't care what the law says, really the only thing that matters is that the fieldsmen is controlling the ball. I do not understand what's the difference is, whether you are in the slips or whether you are out near the boundary ropes, and if you are controlling the ball then it's a catch. It should have been given out, if the law says it's not out then the law is an ass.

Anyhow, it would have not made any difference to the game but it was a spectacular effort by Pietersen. Symonds found a bit of form, Clarke guided Australia safely home and they got there by seven wickets with a few balls in hand. Shaun Tait got Man of the Match and I think it was a worthwhile award because his bowling had really helped Australia restrict England. So Australia now are virtually certain of a spot in the semi-finals, while England are not so certain. They probably have to win all three of their matches from here to get to the semi-finals.

The Australians now have gone 24 consecutive games without losing a World Cup match and to me that is an indictment on the cricket of the rest of the nations.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a cricket commentator for Channel Nine, and a columnist


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