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June 29, 2012
England 272 for 5 (Morgan 89*, Trott 54) beat Australia 257 for 9 (Clarke 61, Warner 56) by 15 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
This is surely one of the most inconsequential England v Australia series in history, but it did not lack for intensity or entertainment for all that and long before the end the Lord's crowd was relishing the renewal of old rivalries. First blood in the NatWest series went to England, but the match felt closer than the final 15-run margin would indicate.
Australia's chances departed with their captain, Michael Clarke, who had made 61 from 67 balls when he walked across his stumps, not for the first time, and was aghast to fall plumb lbw to a swinging, low full toss from Tim Bresnan.
It aggravated the hurt of the previous over when Australia lost Matthew Wade to a run out. Wade had just lifted James Anderson into the Mound Stand, Clarke had deposited Graeme Swann's offspin into the Tavern and another 69 from 49 balls felt just about gettable. Then Wade pushed Swann into the leg side, did not share his captain's enthusiasm for the single and barely got halfway down the pitch when the stumps were broken.
England have now won seven successive ODIs, and they have taken the last six home series in this format, but their record against Australia over 50 overs has been discouraging. Statistical talk of a 5-0 series win which would make them the first side in the world to be No. 1 in all three forms of the game is regarded even by England's most optimistic fans as a late-night pub fantasy. It has the makings of a tight series.
England were under pressure after losing the toss on a drizzly morning, but they avoided the early tremors that Australia must have felt were within their grasp on a pitch that the groundsman, Mick Hunt, accepted had more moisture in it than would normally be expected at Lord's at the end of June. Much of the rest was down to Eoin Morgan, who roused the innings with 89 from 63 balls and for the first time for a while had that assassin's look again.
Morgan has had an unsettled time since his return from an inactive season with Kolkata Knight Riders at IPL. His technique has been under scrutiny, particularly the adoption of a squatting stance, he has been omitted from the Test side as a result, and he has dared to tell the ECB that England's domestic Twenty20 tournament has fallen hopelessly behind the times.
It was dangerously late in the day for England when he finally broke Australia. His first six came in the 38th over when Pat Cummins spilled 13 in the middle of England's batting Powerplay. England then made 46 from the last 20 balls, Morgan responsible for 34 of them, including three sixes. If the first blow, a scythe over long on, was encouraged by Brett Lee's full toss, the follow-up was special as Morgan, back leg bent almost to ground level, swung a near yorker into the crowd. Shane Watson was also swung over the square-leg boards.
An opening stand of 74 in 17 overs between Alastair Cook and Ian Bell quietly batted England into good shape. Neither looked secure; it was not the sort of morning to expect that. Cook's first boundary took 11 overs and, on 28, he was dropped down the leg side by Wade off Watson before Cummins, as mature as you like as he experienced the Lord's slope from Nursery and Pavilion ends, had him caught at the wicket, driving at a wide one.
Bell, whose introduction to the opener's role after the retirement of Kevin Pietersen had brought a century against West Indies at West End, had an eventful and not-altogether convincing stay. He marched off when Brett Lee's lbw appeal was answered in the affirmative, but the Hot Spot cameras these days could probably spot the friction of a fly on a teacup and TV replays as he unstrapped his pads suggested that he had managed the faintest inside edge.
He had already reviewed successfully, on 3, given out caught at wicket of Clint McKay only for replays to show that the ball came off his trousers. Trott was left to guide England through the middle overs before being bowled for 54 as he failed to work Doherty through the leg side.
Australia repeatedly faltered just as they threatened to break the target. Anderson bowled throiugh a strained groin and looked as if life was hanging heavily upon him, but he found something to cheer him as he removed George Bailey and David Warner in the space of three balls.
Warner's belligerence was growing on a sound Lord's surface, with Steven Finn cudgelled through the offside twice in an over when he strayed in line, but when he had made 56 from 61 balls Anderson exposed a lack of footwork by shading a delivery away from him and the nick was well held by wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter. Bailey chopped on in Anderson's previous over.
Then Australia's chase foundered again during their batting Powerplay. Clarke called it at 131 for 3 after 28 overs to enliven the innings, but things went awry as they lost both David Hussey and Steve Smith in five overs while adding 17 runs.
Hussey was bowled by Finn as he tried to hook and, if there was an element of ill luck as the ball dropped onto the bails off shoulder and helmet, he got in a tangle playing the shot. Smith felt for a wide one from Bresnan and was caught at the wicket. Australia could also have lost Clarke, on 16, but Bresnan failed to hold a relatively simple return chance.
As for DRS, it again proved its value, not just with Bell's successful review, but with Watson's dismissal as the much-improved Hotspot cameras showed a thin edge.
Time and again in this England cricket season, technology has improved the standards of decision making, supporting good umpiring and sparing bad. It has not achieved perfection - nobody has ever claimed that - but it has moved closer towards it. Those who continue to question the merits of DRS are either too wedded to tradition, too busy or simply too wilful to recognise the facts.
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