England v Australia, NatWest Series, The Oval

Bell and Bopara star in simple chase

The Report by George Dobell

July 1, 2012

Comments: 187 | Text size: A | A

England 252 for 4 (Bopara 82, Bell 75) beat Australia 251 for 7 (Watson 66, Hussey 65, Bresnan 2-50) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Ian Bell tried to lead England's chase, England v Australia, 2nd ODI, The Oval, July 1, 2012
Ian Bell made passed 50 for the third time in his last four ODI innings © Getty Images
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It is one of the ironies of England's recent resurgence in all formats of the game that, for all their meticulous planning, two of the crucial ingredients of their success have come through luck. Just as it was only the sacking of Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores as captain that brought Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss together as captain and coach, so it has only been the "retirement" of Pietersen from limited-overs international cricket that presented another chance to Ian Bell as an ODI batsman.

It is not just luck, of course. It is how England have adjusted to circumstance and overcome the obstacles that have arisen. But it remains true that, had Pietersen not departed the England limited-overs set-up recently, it is most unlikely that Bell would have returned to the top of the England order.

Bell has certainly embraced his opportunity. Since returning to the ODI side, he has contributed scores of 126, 53, 41 and now 75 and played a significant role in England not only taking a 2-0 lead in this five-match series, but extending their unbeaten record to eight successive victories in completed ODIs this year. It equals England's best run of ODI results and sustains their chance of leapfrogging Australia to become the No. 1 ODI side; a position they will assume if they win this series 5-0. That will also make them the first team to hold No. 1 rankings in all three forms of the game. This was the first ODI in which they had beaten Australia at the Oval since 1997.

Here Bell showed not just his class - a straight six off the bowling of Shane Watson quite majestic - but also his composure and maturity. Against an attack containing two men bowling in excess of 90 mph, he had time, confidence and the range of stokes required. He slog-swept David Hussey, cut Watson, swept Xavier Doherty and drove Mitchell Johnson with power. He looked a high-class player, quite at home on the ODI stage.

Ravi Bopara also enjoyed an excellent match. Having contributed a miserly five overs and taken the key wicket of Michael Clarke, pushing indeterminately at one outside off stump, he produced an admirably calm and increasingly assured innings of 82 to take England to the brink of a comfortable victory.

Clarke briefly created some uncertainly in the England ranks. He ended Bell's innings with his first delivery - the batsmen attempting to cut a delivery that was too full for the shot - and then saw Eoin Morgan adjudged leg before just two balls later. Hot Spot, which showed (on the third umpire's television, anyway) the faintest of touches on Morgan's inside edge, reprieved the batsman. England were never seriously troubled again and cruised to victory with six wickets and 4.2 overs in hand.

But Clarke's senior seamers let him down. Mitchell Johnson, perhaps rusty having bowled just six List A overs since sustaining a foot injury in November, came into the side due to Pat Cummins' withdrawal with a side strain, but donated three no-balls in his first two overs, with Alastair Cook and Bell taking advantage to thrash two of the resulting free-hits through mid-off for four. Brett Lee also donated five wides down the leg side in his second over. Only Clint McKay, who beat Cook with a good one that swing back in to trap the England captain leg before, and Watson, who might have had Bell caught for 70 had David Warner, at point, been able to hold on to a diving chance, threatened to stem the tide.

Nor did Australia score enough runs. Winning first use of a good batting pitch, they were indebted to half-centuries from Shane Watson and George Bailey but would reflect that they fell perhaps 25 runs short of par in such conditions.

Watson lived dangerously for much of his innings and, apart from edging the ball just past his own stumps (on 2 and 30), was dropped by Jonathan Trott, at gully, on 8. He also survived a run-out chance on 47 - had Ian Bell, at mid-on, hit with his throw Watson would have been out - and two decisions that were referred to the third umpire for review.

But if Watson was somewhat fortunate, Australia were grateful for his sense of urgency. His top-order colleagues struggled for fluency and, after David Warner had top-edged a pull to square leg, Peter Forrest, having scored only two from his first 17 deliveries, was brilliantly caught down the leg side. The departure of Clarke and the introduction of Graeme Swann and Bopara, saw Australia make only 24 in 10 overs and 53 in 18 in mid-innings as Bailey, in particular, became bogged down.

The pressure told on Watson, whose final 10 runs occupied 25 balls, and who, in attempting to loft Graeme Swann over the top, succeeded only in gifting a catch to deep mid-wicket.

Bailey - who scored only 26 from his first 61 balls - eventually found some momentum and, in partnership with the more dynamic Hussey added 78 in 13 overs before Finn, in his follow through, ran out the latter with a superb throw with just one stump to aim at.

That wicket stalled Australia's hopes of some late-innings acceleration. Bailey's lavish drive was beaten by some inswing, before Matthew Wade's attempt to scoop one over the keeper's head resulted only in a simple catch to short fine leg.

But England were far from their best with the ball or in the field. England's bowlers, missing James Anderson who was absent with a groin strain, donated eight wides, two no-balls and numerous deliveries that drifted on to the pads. Apart from dropping Watson, Bailey was also missed on 52, a tough chance offered to Tim Bresnan off Graeme Swann at deep midwicket, and could have been run out on 55 had Bopara hit from short distance. Lee was also dropped on 2 and 17, from the final ball of the innings, after Morgan, at long on, failed to cling on to tough chances.

In an odd way, however, England might find it encouraging that they could play so far below their best and still ease to victory against the No. 1 ranked ODI side.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by RedRoseMan on (July 4, 2012, 7:55 GMT)

Personally I would like to see Woakes play in the 3rd ODI today - in place of Bresnan if Anderson is fit. Though he has still to prove that he can take his game up to the international stage, his stats for Warwickshire over the last couple of seasons have been amazing! And would be great to see him get a game on his home ground.

Unfortunately, it looks like the weather is likely to have a major impact on today's match and it is quite possible that it will be a wash-out to go with the almost washed out Test at Edgbaston. That would be a great result for Australia! ;-)

Posted by JG2704 on (July 3, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

@praveen4honestremark on (July 03 2012, 15:11 PM GMT) For me - in these 2 games - Swann did a much better job than Bresnan period

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (July 3, 2012, 17:32 GMT)

@ RedRoseMan...The article in which they compared Swann and Doherty was little above reality. Swann is doing good in containing runs, but comparing is not a fair thing. England has just come playing in UAE against best spinners( Paksitan spinners) in the world, so right now they are going in right way. It will be again difficult even for England like Australia on playing spin if Doherty comes with a new weapon. It's just a matter of time and you can see even Doherty can do well, even better than Swann. (Please don't get me wrong, i don't hate Swann)

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (July 3, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

@JG2704 on (July 03 2012, 13:54 PM GMT)..... Swann has showed improvement in his bowling from 1st ODI where he went for 47 runs. Yes, it is true he is very economical in bowling but the situation when he came and bowled was when Australia lost too many wickets and so they had to play wait and watch game. As a Batsman attacking a spinner will not be a fair idea when you don't have sufficient wickets in hand. Even that is to be noted here.As ball will not have so much speed to play, so Aussies played safe in second match. Even his bowling showed a little improvement though. Watson wicket was just a gift. Aussie players failed i should say rather giving credit to Swann. Bailey showed how you can play Swann getting 10 runs per over too during last 10 overs. So, as wickets were not in hand they played safe.

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (July 3, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

@jmcilhinney .. I will surely answer / reply to all your questions and also ask you few more but once England looses a match. Because England loosing will have many a answers for your questions and doubts. It will also answer how much i know and follow cricket.Hope you can wait till then. Thank you. @RedRoseMan & @ JG2704....Yes, I accept that Swann was keeping pressure from one end but it doesn't completely mean Bresnan was beneficary. Even there were instances in the matches played where even after playing a tight over of Swann Aussies were not under pressure playing others bowlers to hit runs. They got them easily. But as captain brings Bresnon , he takes one or two wickets even during slogging effectively. Bailey wicket was such an example. Bailey even after slow start in second ODI had scored quickly from 37th over . Finn and Debranch who were economical were hitted by Bailey this time. Only in 46th over twin strike by Bresnan had stopped slogging. So, skills of Bresnan were imp

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (July 3, 2012, 15:11 GMT)

@jmcilhinney .. I will surely answer / reply to all your questions and also ask you few more but once England looses a match. Because England loosing will have many a answers for your questions and doubts. It will also answer how much i know and follow cricket.Hope you can wait till then. Thank you. @RedRoseMan & @ JG2704....Yes, I accept that Swann was keeping pressure from one end but it doesn't completely mean Bresnan was beneficiary. Even there were instances in the matches played where even after playing a tight over of Swann Aussies were not under pressure playing others bowlers to hit runs. They got them easily. But as captain brings Bresnon , he takes one or two wickets even during slogging effectively. Bailey wicket was such an example. Bailey even after slow start in second ODI had scored quickly from 37th over . Finn and Debranch who were economical were hitted by Bailey this time. Only in 46th over twin strike by Bresnan had stopped slogging. So, skills of Bresnan were imp.

Posted by RedRoseMan on (July 3, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

@Praveen - just to back up the comments made, if you read the new article that has just appeared comparing Swann and Doherty it gives a good indication of the difference in performance of the two spin bowlers and of the difficulty the Australians found in getting Swann away. Admittedly Bailey was bound to say something to try to cover up his lacklustre batting performance which placed inordinate pressure on those who came after him, but it is also true that Watson was similarly tied down by Swann and Bopara.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 3, 2012, 13:54 GMT)

@praveen4honestremark ctd Full stats would take up too much time and space but for example in 2nd ODI - Bres comes on after 9 overs with Aus34/1 RR 3.77 , conceeds 12 runs and after 10 Aus 46/1 (RR 4.6).Bres goes off after 18 overs 5 ovs for 28 (Aus RR 4.88 - over a RPO more than before he came on) Swann on over 22 (Aus RR 4.9) and after 7 overs he has only gone for 17 runs and even after a bad 8th where he goes for 10 Aus RR is still less than 4.5.And Watson was a huge wicket as he looked the one player capable of taking Aus up towards and maybe passed 300. Swann may not have taken all the wickets but that was because batsmen have been too respectful of his bowling to push on. look at the commentary sections of bothODIs and look at what the RR for Aus was before he came on and compare it to when he went off and do exactly the same with Bres and you'll see the difference.I like both players equally so have no reason to favour Swann and on other occs Bres will do better than Swann.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 3, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

@praveen4honestremark -I know exactly what I saw.Swann came on and dried the runrate up and created pressure.Anyone who watches cricket will know that creating runrate pressure(esp in shorter fmts)often leads to wkts and it's not always the bowlers who created that pressure who get the wickets - often is not because the wkts are taken when the batting side is trying to get back into the game and increase the runrate to a degree where they're not playing comfortable shots.Swann wasnt lucky to get Watson.He created so much pressure that Watson had to force it.And re Finn - Hussey was a run out so doesn't count on his figures. Also I believe Swann could have had another wicket in the last game but had a catch dropped on the boundary - ironically by Bresnan.TBH re taking wickets etc alot depends on when wickets are taken. If you take wickets after the RR has dried up it's surely less important/influential than taking wickets after another bowler has dried up the runs to begin with.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 3, 2012, 13:17 GMT)

@praveen4honestremark on (July 03 2012, 10:59 AM GMT), have you ever watched ODI cricket before? "what is more important in ODI is taking wickets". That is about as false a statement as could ever be made. Unless there's a rain interruption and D/L gets involved, wickets are of no consequence and all that matters is runs. The team whose bowlers give up fewer runs wins. If team A loses no wickets at all and team B loses 9 wickets but scores more runs then team B still wins. All teams would like to take wickets but only because it generally reduces the number of runs the opposition will score. If I had the choice of each bowler taking 2 wickets or giving up 7 fewer runs then I'd choose the latter. Are you saying that you'd choose the former?

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