Leicestershire v Australians, Grace Road June 21, 2012

McKay's four brings easy victory


Australians 241 for 8 (Warner 74, Hussey 37, Razzaq 3-39) beat Leicestershire 136 (McKay 4-31) by 102 runs D/L

It took until a little after 7pm for some sun to shine on the canary yellow shirts of Australia's cricketers as they familiarised themselves with a grey English summer against Leicestershire. By then Michael Clarke's tourists had the match in their keeping against modest opposition, and more importantly had taken the chance to spread the day's workload widely among an XI with limited experience of winning in England.

Taken in isolation, few of the visitors produced compelling performances. David Warner caught the eye with a percussive 74, and Clint McKay's combination of wholehearted seam-up and the odd perplexing slower ball reaped four wickets, but the rest offered cameos that provided the on-field equivalent of a brief net. A day of 70 overs' cricket was a productive result given the overhead conditions for most of the match, and better than they may get in Belfast against Ireland, where heavy rain is predicted.

Of the batsmen only Shane Watson and Steve Smith failed to see out 20 balls, while all the chosen bowlers put in fair shifts. James Pattinson's first spell on English soil was a decidedly slippery burst of two overs with the new ball that accounted for Leicestershire's acting captain Joshua Cobb and beat the bat half a dozen times, and Watson warmed into his work so effectively that he was taken off after nipping out two home batsmen in his third over.

Mitchell Johnson's return to the Australian XI for the first time since last November's tour of South Africa was less wayward than some of his unhappier English spells have been, but he was the only specialist bowler not to take a wicket once called on, and could not complete the day without hearing a reprise of the heckling he received during the 2010-11 Ashes in Australia. The spinners Xavier Doherty (five overs for 28, one wicket) and Steve Smith were not particularly successful either, and will sympathise with West Indies' Sunil Narine.

Leicestershire's target was first revised to 256 off 41 overs, then became 239 off 36 after the day's third rain interruption. They never threatened, as McKay, Pattinson, and Watson went about their work, held up only briefly by Greg Smith and Matthew Boyce.

Low cloud and misty rain had delayed the toss until midday. Clarke chose to bat, the pitch tinged green but firm enough to reward assertive batsmen, particularly as Leicester's attack was modest. Peter Forrest, Brett Lee, Pat Cummins and Ben Hilfenhaus sat out for the visitors.

Warner opened with Matthew Wade ahead of Watson at No. 3, a shift back to the ODI batting order that had been favoured in Australia. Watson had opened on slower West Indian pitches, the better to capitalise on his muscular hitting while the ball was still new, but he seems more likely to come in at first wicket down as a minor concession to his likely bowling demands on this tour.

Nadeem Malik's opening spell was tidy, leaving Wade and Warner to gain more change from the slippery but less accurate Nathan Buck - an England Lions representative. Wade was the more careful of the two batsmen, playing his first significant innings in England, but both he and Warner split the field often enough in an opening stand of 69 that warded off any perceived threat from the new ball.

It was Abdul Razzaq, the former Pakistan allrounder, who found a way past Wade, straightening one enough to win an lbw verdict as Australia's wicketkeeper failed to get forward. Warner took a liking to the modest left-arm spin of James Sykes, hoisting him for a trio of sixes. They were broken up by the dismissal of Watson, however, who tried to pull a short ball in the same direction but did not clear deep midwicket.

Rain arrived shortly after Clarke had reached the wicket, and the further delay cut the innings by another six overs. Though Warner retired on resumption, his innings left a stronger impression than several that were to follow. Clarke clipped his way to 29 then was bowled slogging at Cobb the ball after lofting him for six, David Hussey played busily but shelled Nadeem into the deep, and George Bailey's 21 was brisk but ended when he failed to cover a Razzaq delivery that snapped back to splay the stumps.

Smith's return to the Australian side after a summer with New South Wales was also underwhelming, tallying only 11 before he too failed to clear the boundary, and McKay could last only one ball against Razzaq. However Johnson and Pattinson hit out well at the end, looking a pair of twins in their upright and powerful left-handed stances.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Christopher on June 23, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    @RyanHarrisGreatCricketer...I think you would do well to investigate Watson's record before trying to discredit@zenboomerang. Watsons Test record is very ordinary. His strike rate is 50.46-barely above Katich and not the figures of an attacking player at all.His average is a poor 37. He has scored just 2x100s or one every 32 innings and those both required multiple dropped catches to accomplish.His ODI average is lower than some other team mates, as is his T20I average.To this can be added just 59 Test wickets in 35 Tests,making him neither a strike bowler nor a stock bowler.He is a basically sound player of reasonable character whose position in the batting order is irrelevent in that his body lacks stamina and fatigues so rapidly,that only in ODI and T20I are the formats brief enough for him to consistently have an impact.To imagine that he will suddenly be able to overcome his bodies limitations at this point has no basis in fact and can only be an act of the highest imagination.

  • Roo on June 23, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    @HatsforBats... Sorry, but I interpreted your original comment as if Starc was in the squad (semantics)... Conjecture is a different topic... Re: Starc's contract - to be honest I was more surprised by Cummins inclusion at this point of time & a little by Starc's...

  • kieran on June 23, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    @ zenboomerang; if we couldn't discuss the lunacy of selectors and players that should be in sides these forums wouldn't get much traffic mate. Going by the injuries to our bowlers of late (Lee, Pattinson, Cummins, Johnson) it is well & truly likely that a replacement may be needed at some stage; that is why I mention Starc. I'm a supporter of Mitch as well, but I think he's very lucky to get a contract.

  • Doug on June 22, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding, thanks very much for the explanation, it makes a lot of sense to share the revenue around. Unfortunately the weather is sometimes reducing that revenue when the grounds get a chance to host a match. Can't be helped I suppose.

  • Roo on June 22, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    @RyanHarrisGreatCricketer... Re: Watto... "best Oz batsman"... Try again... (Excluding Bangladesh) Watto's ODI average has been @31.87 since being named VC (April2011)... 3x50's out of 16 matches... Clarke @58.54 out of 14 matches with 4x50's & 1x100+, David Hussey @37.62, have been better over the last 12 mths... Watto's Tests result are even worse - averaging @25.00 & dragging his stats down further... When you say "best", try & get the basics right ;) ...

  • Roo on June 22, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    @HatsforBats... Glad you realise that Starc isn't in the squad for the ODI's :) ... So why bring him up?... Your comment - "hope he gets a run" isn't going to happen unless a bowler or 2 breaks down... Hey, I'm a supporter of Mitch (& all the young guys) so wish him the best - he had a rough patch against NZ, so hopefully he has learnt to deal with the pressure a bit better... CA have given him a central contract & believe he is a major project still under development... You wont see me bagging him as Hyclass & others have... Prematurely...

  • kieran on June 22, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    @ zenboomerang; I know Starc isn't in the squad but he's already there and is doing ok so far. The kid can bat alright too so I think he'd be a good addition to the squad. I have to disagree about Bailey though, he feels like a wasted spot for me. I know he's had a bad couple of years but Cam White showed some very good T20 form this year, he's Bailey's tactical equal but far better in the field and with the bat. He's still a young man so CA should be helping him get back to his best. Either way, the spot belongs to MHussey & it's his to claim when he's ready.

  • Jason on June 22, 2012, 9:22 GMT

    @Potatis, i think its because the counties get visitors assigned on a rotational basis, so that those that arnt Test grounds can get some extra Gate revenues for the coffers, it just so happens its Leicestershires turn this year to get a couple of games. When you look at whos hosting who this summer you can see most of the non-test counties get some additional income, eg, Somerset, Worcs, Kent, Gloucester and Derby's host the Saffas, Essex and Leics host the Aussies, and Sussex, Leics and Middlesex have hosted the Wi's.

  • Matthew on June 22, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    @randy oz. There you go again about the "weak" county system. Of course you'll all think it's weak if the only match you bother playing is against the weakest county in the system this year. Just look at the three tables. I guarantee if you'd played Notts or Warks you'd have been given a much better test, there might even have been an upset

  • Andrew on June 22, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    jonesy2 @ 5.42am on June 22 - Erm, it was against Leicstershire. Take a look at their position in any of the 3 county competitions. Reality check easily available here on this site. I'm going to put your prediction beside your recent one that England were going to be royally thrashed (or something like that) in the WIndies one dayers. It's going to be a good, if pointless, series. 3-2 / 4-1 to England. If I was Mickey Arthur, current Australian depth would drive me insane as well.

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