England v Australia, 3rd ODI, Old Trafford June 27, 2010

England seal series in thrilling finale


England 214 for 9 (Strauss 87, Bollinger 3-20, Tait 3-28) beat Australia 212 (Watson 61, Swann 4-37, Anderson 3-22) by one wicket
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The finale was clumsy and ungainly, and it came as scant consolation for the wider sporting public on a day when the nation's footballers were soundly thrashed by their own arch-enemies, Germany, but England's cricketers somehow held their nerve to wrap up an unassailable 3-0 lead with two matches to come in their ODI series against Australia.

After Graeme Swann's 4 for 37 had limited the Aussies to an eminently gettable 212, England had at one stage been coasting to victory on 185 for 3 with eight-and-a-half overs in hand, but a sensational collapse of six wickets for 18 in 38 balls meant their victory bunting had been somewhat frayed around the edges by the time Tim Bresnan slashed two desperate boundaries in the space of three deliveries to seal a one-wicket victory with five balls to spare.

The catalyst for the collapse was the dismissal of Eoin Morgan, England's star finisher from the first two games at the Rose Bowl and Cardiff. He had joined forces with his captain, Andrew Strauss, to take England to the brink of a thumping victory when he swatted a tame pull to midwicket off Steven Smith to give Australia a sniff of an opening. Seven balls later, and with his fourth ODI century there for the taking, Strauss edged Ryan Harris with 24 still needed from 44 balls, whereupon Luke Wright hoisted Smith to long-off for a third-ball duck.

With Shaun Tait, Australia's Twenty20 shock-jock, still lurking, England now knew they were in for a torrid finale. Playing in his first ODI since February 2009, and touching 95mph in five searing two-over spells, Tait had commanded instant respect from his opponents by yorking Craig Kieswetter for a first-ball duck, before returning in the 13th over to extract Kevin Pietersen via a sharp caught-and-bowled. His last hurrah yielded the wicket of Michael Yardy, who flashed a loose edge to the keeper, and at 197 for 7, the innings was officially on the ropes.

Graeme Swann scratched around for 1 from 10 balls before Doug Bollinger plucked out his off stump with 10 runs still needed from 17 balls, and an Old Trafford crowd that had been finding some solace in the exploits of their cricketers had been stunned into total silence. With the ball reverse-swinging and Bollinger bowling with immaculate discipline, he restricted Stuart Broad to four dot balls in a row before swinging the last ball of his spell, a perfect yorker, through his defences to complete figures for 3 for 20 in 10 overs. Bresnan, however, kept his cool even as the asking rate dipped to a run a ball, and picked the right deliveries - a hint of width from Harris and Hopes respectively - to mow the winning boundaries through the off side.

Their fumbling finale notwithstanding, it was another impressive effort from England, for whom victory over Australia can never be taken lightly. After winning the toss and bucking convention by bowling first on a baking hot day, the key aspect of the triumph was the speed with which they adjusted their gameplan in the field. With the exception of James Anderson, who wrapped up the tail for figures of 3 for 22, England's seamers had an off-day, with Bresnan proving especially hittable on a pacy surface. But the slow-bowling contingent was on hand to bail the side out. Swann, Yardy and the rarely-used Paul Collingwood produced combined figures of 6 for 103 in 25 overs, and it was that intervention that crushed Australia's bid for momentum in the middle part of their innings.

Paine, who made 44 from 48 balls, had kickstarted Australia's innings with four fours in six balls off Bresnan, while Luke Wright's solitary over was dispatched for 14 by Watson, including a mown six over midwicket and a firm clip through the leg-side. But Yardy's introduction in the 14th over paid dividends from his third delivery, as Paine was beaten by the angle and nailed plumb in front of middle stump. Then, two balls after the drinks break, Ricky Ponting was suckered by a ripping delivery from Swann that turned way down the leg-side and was expertly gathered by Craig Kieswetter, who whipped off the bails to send Australia's captain on his way for 3 from 18 balls.

Watson duly completed his second half-century in consecutive innings, but not for the first time in his career, he was unable to convert his start. On 61 from 76 balls, he attempted a sweep at Swann but failed to take his extra bounce into account, and Strauss at square leg clung onto a dollied top-edge. The same combination then accounted for Cameron White eight overs later - but this time it required a sharp piece of work from Strauss who stooped low to his left to snaffle a full-blooded sweep.

The off-colour Michael Clarke nibbled along to 33 from 54 balls before hoisting Swann to wide mid-off, before Collingwood's offcutters bowled Hussey, via a faint inside-edge, for a run-a-ball 21. At 183 for 6, Strauss then returned to his seamers to apply the coup de grace: James Hopes wafted a slow bouncer from Anderson onto his stumps for 7, before Ryan Harris spliced an attempted pull off Broad to Strauss at midwicket, who completed his third catch of the innings. Steven Smith was then pinned lbw on the back heel by Anderson for 20, who wrapped up excellent figures of 3 for 22 in eight overs by yorking Bollinger in the same over.

Until the twist in the tale, the second half of the match belonged to Strauss, who boxed himself off from the cheers and groans from the football-watchers in the hospitality suites to produce the sort of innings which not only justifies his retention as England's 50-overs captain but entirely quashes the debate about his role. He made 87 from 121 balls to break the back of the run-chase in the unflappable manner that he brings to all of his best performances, and while he was unable to see the innings to its conclusion, he wasn't alone in that. If England were in danger of getting complacent about their current run of success, this was just the sort of scare to bring their one-day challenge back into full focus.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Robert on June 30, 2010, 14:12 GMT

    Well godfather007 this is true. We do not know how to handle defeat as we are clearly not used to it. Perhaps as an English supporter you could teach us how to handle defeat seeing your team has been so good at losing for so long. For those that are intent on bashing Ponting. You don't score almost 13,000 one day runs by having a dominating opening stand to follow. Are you short of memory of Ponting's innings in the WC final v India in South Africa and the other 12,800 runs he has scored. He will score runs again soon. Don't bad talk the man who is second best behind Bradman as an Australian batsman and who has performed better than any English player could or ever will.

  • Subba on June 29, 2010, 16:57 GMT

    @Godfather007. You're spot on. As a weak No. 3 batsman, Ponting is now spoiling an entire middle order, generating pressure for others.. He could never in his career handle pressure but fed off the ease created by others who absorbed the pressure. A good team is losing more than it should because of him as a batsman and captain.His role as the latter is ridiculous. the Oz establishment is being taken for a ride, but its the best thing that can happen to opposition teams now. Lets hope he's never dropped. Ponting is good for world cricket.

  • Upender on June 29, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    Well after reading all this stuff one thing is crystal clear,the Aussie fans can't digest defeat easily making poor and lame excuses.Listen dudes at present England are a much superior side than Oz."Born Overseas" & "understrength Aussies" are rubbish excuses.When Oz thrashed England 6-1 last year England were without Pietersen & Flintoff.LOL at ur comments.Rather than criticising England ask Ponting to hang up his boots.He piled up runs due to the blitzkrieg of Haydos & Gilly,lethal combo of Warne & Macgrath.For ages he hasn't played an under pressure knock LOL at his all time great status.Aussies show some sports man spirit (oh God I forgot these type of words are not in ur dictionary........)

  • Robert on June 29, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    asillypoint. I wrote that knowing exactly where each person was born knowing you would bite. But I was very curious to see what you would write forTim Cahill. You left him out why is that?? My issue with non countrymen playing is not where they were born but adopting already developed players as your own. This only hurting the game on a worldwide capacity. We have been just as guilty with Dirk Nannes recently and a few others in the past but with the English it is starting to get a little out of hand when almost half the side are players like this.

  • Bob on June 29, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    I wrote this in an earlier thread, but I think it's well worth repeating here: " I don't think the Aussies should be giving too much voice to this 'born overseas' player nonsense. After all, they now have, of all things, a Welsh born lady as Prime Minister. To put things on a more serious level, are all the whingers about foreign born players in the England team really serious when they suggest that players should only be allowed to represent the country they were born in. That would suggest that even though these people are British citizens and have British passports, they don't have the same rights as other British citizens simply due to an accident of birth in that they were born overseas. Wouldn't that be a violation of their human and citizen's rights."

  • rob on June 29, 2010, 6:02 GMT

    @SeaforthA1. I'm sorry. William Marshall Mason (born 15 April 1980 in Auckland, New Zealand), George Waitoa Gregan AM (born 19 April 1973 in Lusaka, Zambia), Gillard was born in 1961 in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales (the same as Ness and Stacey) - I knows that.

  • Robert on June 29, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    a sillypoint the three names you have mentioned were all born in Austalia and have been Australian all their life. Unlike players in the current England side. All teams have had the odd non countryman in their national side but half the side is a bit much.

  • rob on June 29, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    @popcorn, for the wider audience, could you please enlighten all of us when, where and how "England cheated in the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley". I cannot find a record of this anywhere.

  • Nathan on June 29, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    Come on @popcorn, @Something_Witty etc. I agree that Australia got screwed by the umpiring, and that Ian Gould is a bad joke, but the score is in the book and whining now won't change it. We (Aussies) don't like losing and are not used to it but PLEASE guys, don't carry on like so many indian fans do. They have the market on childish bleating covered so leave it to them. So congrats to england. @SnowSnake, I realise 20/20 is not the same as a 50 over game but my point was that Hussey has shown he can still play extremely damaging innings against international opponents. I agree Huss is getting on in age, look for Callum Ferguson to be back if he scores some runs for SA at the start of the Aus summer. lol @ vichan - Australia 'soundly beaten in all 3 formats'?! Hahaha. One 20/20 match, an away test series that went right to the wire, and Aus lead 6-4 in the last 10 head to head ODIs. Oh yeah that's 'soundly beaten' alright ...

  • Subba on June 29, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    My guess is it will be 4-1. Bollinger deserves one win at least. He's bowled his heart out. These complaints and excuses about not having their best bowlers are hollow and attempts to further deny their own lack of skills. Bollinger would find a place in a World XI ahead of Brett Lee or Hilfenhaus on current form. The only real absence is of Mithcell Johnson, who is inconsistent in any case. Let's not forget that when Australia beat England 6-1 last time, Flintoff and Pietersen were not in the side. England never cribbed.

    It's time Ponting and some others displayed some sportsmanship. After all didnt the world give them credit for winning the Champions Trophy when none of the opposing featured their full strength XIs? My single suggestion for Oz cricket- get a wiser and more tactical skipper. The team is not bad enough to lose in this manner.

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