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

The beauty of the 50-over game

The see-sawing battle between England and Australia was a fine advertisement of the nuances of 50-over cricket

It's easy to forget what drama 50-over cricket can offer the cricket fan. England don't play the format at domestic level anymore and Australia are moving towards a split-innings one-day trial. But the two countries put on a cracking contest in the traditional one-day arrangement at OId Trafford, where a packed crowd stayed until the end, ignoring the chance to head to the pub and watch what turned out to be England's last World Cup match for the campaign.

What they saw was an ebbing and flowing that Twenty20 cricket doesn't quite offer, and a tense result that brought the fans to their feet as England sneaked home to win the series with two matches to play. There were lightning quick yorkers from Shaun Tait, high-class spin bowling from Graeme Swann, a captain's innings from Andrew Strauss and a tight finish as the crowd rode every ball, groaning or roaring, and counting down the chase with the players.

"We all knew the game was taking place today," Ricky Ponting said of England's football defeat. "I felt that maybe even up to a third of the crowd might have left the venue today to go and watch that. It was a great game of one-day cricket, a great spectacle for the 50-over game today. You don't see many of those sort of finishes in Twenty20 cricket. That's the beauty of our 50-over game - you can have a contest that can go down to the wire like that."

The result didn't go Ponting's way, despite an England collapse Strauss described as "horrendous" as they lost 6 for 15 and nearly gave up their grip on the chase of 213. Tim Bresnan was left needing three from the final over against James Hopes, and a thick edge for four delivered England their eighth straight one-day international victory.

Again, their success was set up by a professional bowling effort. Swann deceived Australia's batsmen and finished with four wickets, while James Anderson continued to deliver his yorkers with devastating consistency. Despite the late scare, Strauss was thrilled with the way his men had kept on top of Australia throughout over the past week.

"There are not too many sides that go 3-0 up against Australia," Strauss said. "I think we should take a huge amount of confidence over those three games, our bowling unit has been outstanding in all three and left us with modest totals to chase in all three matches. We have a nice little formula that is working well for us at the moment and that is the reason we are 3-0 up in the series."

It's an unfamiliar position for Australia, who despite having lost the CB Series to Andrew Flintoff's group four years ago have generally dominated England in one-day cricket in the past decade. Their undermanned attack kept them in the game but that cannot mask some serious concerns in the batting department on a day when they posted their lowest total of the series.

Things had started promisingly when Shane Watson and Tim Paine took the score to 75 for 0 in the 14th over but Swann, Anderson and their colleagues fought back admirably. Ponting scratched to 3 from 16 balls before he was stumped off a wide and Michael Hussey was defeated by a simple, accurate cutter from Paul Collingwood, but Ponting said the continued struggles of the batting line-up could not be attributed to being rusty.

"I'd accept that after the first game," he said. "We've played five games on tour now, so you'd like to think that we'd be making runs on a more consistent basis than we are. You've got to give England credit for the way they bowled. They've been pretty well structured and well planned and more importantly have executed well. That's the bottom line."

The challenge for Australia is to avoid an embarrassing 0-5 whitewash over the next week. While Strauss is sceptical about the prospect of taking momentum from this series into the Ashes, he is confident that a clean sweep would be handy ahead of next year's World Cup.

"I don't think we can read much into the Ashes," he said. "It is such a radically different format of the game but for the World Cup it would instill us with a huge amount of confidence. We are aiming for it now and we don't want to take our foot off the gas."

As long as the next two games bring similar drama, the fans will be happy. And 50-over cricket will be all the better for it.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anand on June 29, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    arunti - one-sided? how do you define one-sided? to me it is if a team goes on to WIN easily - not if a team seemingly is on the upper hand until the momentum shifts - which is exactly is the beautyof this game and the point of the article which obviously is lost on you! Sometimes if there is a goal in the last few mins of a football match to make it 1-0 , do you have to watch 90+ mins to get 1 min of thrill - or would you just watch the last minute? It is not always the destination - it is the journey.

  • Dummy4 on June 29, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    Look at form comparison...Strauss vs Ponting, Kieswetter vs Paine, Pieterson vs Clarke, Yardy vs White, Wright vs Watson, Morgan vs Hussey, Collingwood v Hopes, Swann v Smith, Broad v Tait, Bresnan v Bollinger, Anderson v Harris...

    On current form, you would only take probably Watson, and maybe Tait and Bollinger, in the England team

  • viraj on June 29, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    Firstly Strauss' inning was the main reason behind this close game. He managed a few good partnerships alright but the number of dots he played was too much for the score he eventually made (67). Had he not played that many dots, England would have won the game hands down. Second point is that the popularity of ODIs is going down only because of some Aussie and English "masterminds" who do not like to see their team losing too many matches! The fact is that the popularity of ODIs has not taken the beating but they are the Australian domestic one-dayers (ODD) who are suffering from low attendance. So efforts are to be taken to save the domestic one-dayers rather than the ODIs. Also, now that England are winning, they may start saying that the format is interesting and Aussies will start their own debate!!! As long as crowds are filling in, the format doesn't need to be changed it is the mindset that should be changed.

  • Dummy4 on June 28, 2010, 17:08 GMT

    What a game that england played assuies too played but not enough to win.. totally it was good contest. Austalia still good team playing outside getting bit nervous... it is the real test for ponting captaincy..

  • A on June 28, 2010, 14:11 GMT

    All - welcome the new era of cricket. The old masters of the game Australia and West Indies and the attractive by reckless Pakistan appear to be fading into thin light and the forever studious followers like England and India are on the mend - I hope this does not turn out to be a bloggers curse. South Africa and Sri Lanka find themselves in pretty much the same spot that they were in earlier - perhaps a bit of a backfoot as well as they have not been able to replace stars like Jayasurya, Aravinda, Jonty and Donald. Bangladesh do not deserve to be in the mix based on performance alone but understandably they have been kept in the mix - 150 million strong democracy (or something like it) can provide 11 good men in the long run - perhaps. Eventually, the objective should be to make this game become less one sided. To that effect, 50-50 does not really have any place in the modern world. There should be Test cricket to test the mettle and 20-20 for instant gratification!

  • Dummy4 on June 28, 2010, 14:11 GMT

    I think this whole talk about ODIs is completely unnecessary.If crowds are filling in the stadiums just like they did years ago when there were no T20s how can you have a problem about it????????????????????

  • Dummy4 on June 28, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    Just glad that someone can beat Australia.

  • ankur on June 28, 2010, 12:45 GMT

    Only Aussies and Eng come up with all the crazy innovations..............as if T-20 has done any good to the game.........

    It seems like Eng, aussies now realize that they are a poor 50 over side and their days of domination have worn out....

  • Eshwar on June 28, 2010, 10:50 GMT

    People who wants to end the 50 over format are the ones instilling panic to people on what to do to change the format. I dont see lesser crowds in any of the matches be it here or in the Asia cup. It is only to sell cricket as a package to US and China which has Test Cricket which they dont have to bother about at the moment and 20 over cricket, the more exciting and u can participate format; They dont know what to make of the ODI and just wants to get rid of it. We love it and it is here to stay.

  • arun on June 28, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    hahaha ... I really had a good laugh after reading the article ... "The beauty of the 50-over game" ... haha .... this game was 1 sided in the first innings [ barring the opening partnership] and till the 42nd over of the 2nd inning .... the only thrill came in the last 8 oves .... so do i have to spend ard 7 hrs of one-sided match to get 30 mins of thrill ..... and you are calling this a "beauty of a game" .... This is a great insult to odi games ... then wat do you call the natwest series finals, Aus vs SA great odi .... india pak wc 2003 ....huh?

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