Australia v South Africa, U-19 World Cup Group B February 5, 2006

Australia crush South Africa

Australia 316 for 9 (Cooper 104, Finch 74, Warner 54, Alexander 4-47) beat South Africa 141 (Keen 3-10) by 175 runs

Tom Cooper with his Man-of-the-Match award © Cricinfo Ltd
Australia's future generation matched their senior side by inflicting a crushing defeat on South Africa, launching their World Cup campaign in stunning style and with ruthless efficiency at the SSC ground. In what has been dubbed "the group of death" - also including West Indies and the USA - this was a vital match for both teams and it was Australia who burst out of the blocks.

It was a dynamic performance, started by the batsmen and Tom Cooper's 104 - the first century of the tournament - before being capped off by a dominant show from the pace attack. Following their failure to reach the Super League stage in 2004, Australia have a point to prove this time around and come across as a highly focused and motivated unit.

The chirp in the middle also showed this was a typical Australia-South Africa clash. A few words were exchanged during both innings, the results of which were similar to those that have been witnessed down under in recent weeks.

Simon Keen tore through the South African middle with three wickets in the first three overs, producing a series of deliveries that nipped off the seam. The ball to remove Romano Ramoo was a gem, drawing the approval of the Australia coaching staff who watched proceedings from the press gallery.

Chasing 316, South Africa were always going to be up against it, especially with the Australian attack finding extra bounce and carry provided from the SSC pitch. Moises Henriques, the captain, made the early incisions, striking twice in his opening spell; Ben Cutting chopped out two for himself, and Keen made his dramatic intervention.

Henriques was thrilled Australia had managed to launch their bid for a third World Cup in such empathic style. "It was the perfect start for us," he told Cricinfo. "We struggled a bit in the practice games trying to find our feet but Coops [Tom Cooper] led from the front today and played a great knock."

Australia suffered their own early wobble with the bat after South Africa had chosen to field, with the surface looking nearly as green as the square and reminding Matthew Mott, the Australian assistant coach, of the Gabba in Brisbane. Chris Alexander struck twice in his third over as Australia slipped to 4 for 2 - but that was as good as it got.

Whereas Australia had the attack to keep on striking, South Africa's was on the lightweight side once Alexander had been seen off. Cooper and Henriques settled the innings with a sensible stand, ensuring no further wickets were lost while the ball was hard.

Henriques added that at no stage did Australia panic: "I've played on worse looking pitches out here but they all end up playing fairly well," he said. "It helped that they had no real tall fast bowlers who could have got a bit more out of it. Our first four bowlers are all over 6'2'' and hit the deck pretty hard and there were good conditions for us today."

When the sun had got to work on the pitch it quickly became more comfortable for the batsmen and Australia cut loose as the plethora of spinners were introduced. Henriques launched two consecutive maximums off das Neves to get the ball rolling, before Aaron Finch made the most of of the solid foundations.

He joined Cooper in the match-turning stand of 120, with the two batsmen offering contrasting styles. Cooper generally preferred to keep the ball along the ground while Finch frequented the aerial route; his fifth six brought up a belligerent half-century off 65 balls. Cooper, who had watchfully negotiated the new ball, reached his century from 138 balls - a knock that was the perfect example of how to pace and anchor a one-day innings.

Though Cooper and Finch departed in quick succession, that left the stage free for David Warner to launch a 50-ball 54, powering Australia past 300. South Africa ought to have learned from Cooper's method, but the weight of the huge total was too much for them. Australia have laid down an impressive marker for the tournament.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo