England v Australia, NatWest Series, Old Trafford July 10, 2012

Bopara stars as England make it 4-0


England 138 for 3 (Cook 58, Bopara 52*) beat Australia 145 for 7 (Bailey 46*, Bopara 2-8) by seven wickets (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Australia's coach, Mickey Arthur, had called for more mongrel but the Australian attack dog managed only a growl or two as England ruthlessly completed a 4-0 victory in a NatWest Series that remained in their control until the last. Australia remain top of the ICC one-day rankings solely because of the abandoned match at Edgbaston, spared by Pommie rain.

England were set 146 for victory in 32 overs, a target reduced to 138 in 29 as rain tumbled for the last time from churlish Lancashire skies. There was potential for it to be awkward as Australia took two quick wickets, but Alastair Cook, looking more and more like a one-day captain of status, and Ravi Bopara, in one of his most bullish innings in an England shirt, timed England's seven-wicket victory with 11 balls to spare with aplomb.

Cook fell with 12 runs needed, caught at slip off Ben Hilfenhaus for 58, but Bopara, his Essex colleague, saw things though. He has good reason to remember this series fondly. He finished as the second-highest run-scorer behind Ian Bell, strutting his stuff for England like he rarely has before, and has probably secured a batting place on the first Test ahead of Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow on the strength of it.

Bopara had fun with the ball, too. His loosener strangled Steve Smith down the leg side and David Hussey edged another routine delivery to the wicketkeeper. If this weather keeps up, he can fiddle through a few overs as England's fifth bowler against South Africa.

Australia will want to forget this series by the morning. They have been not as much out of season as overpowered by England's high-class pace attack in challenging conditions. It was their heaviest defeat suffered by Australia in a limited-overs series.

They will console themselves that it has been a tour with no significance, a tour devised by administrators during misguided diplomatic tit for tat. But Michael Clarke, Australia's captain, sought no excuses: "It was a wake-up call for the team," he said. "England were class. A lot of our team have not faced an attack like that in one-day cricket."

The public have turned out in defiance of abysmal weather, and England have rewarded them with committed, powerful cricket, but not before time, a proper series, against South Africa, awaits. They have beaten Australia in a one-day series with conventional cricket and that will help convince them they can carry this form into the longer game.

There have been more beautiful visions than the one that met England and Australia at the end of this series. The skies glowered in various shades of Manchester grey, a colour now so popular that it has swept the nation, and an extensive rebuilding scheme had left parts of the ground covered in scaffolding.

Only the façade of the old pavilion remains. Walk behind it at the moment and it looks like a theatre prop except with more rubble. It could be excellent when it is finished, but it is not finished and a capacity crowd, having endured afternoon rain, suffered the privations of a half-finished stadium in the belief that a brave new world will have dawned by the time the Ashes Test returns a year's hence.

It was 13 degrees in Manchester, colder than Christmas Day apparently, and Australia looked ready for the tour to end. David Warner, at the start, and George Bailey in the final throes of a laboured Australian innings, batted gamely. Bailey salvaged something from 86 for 6, finishing unbeaten on 46 from 41 balls as 25 came off the last two overs.

However, James Tredwell was another England player with cause to regard the match as invaluable. Graeme Swann, England's premier offspinner, exudes the confidence of a chat show host; Tredwell, his experienced Kent replacement, displays a meekness that Swann presumably tossed aside soon after birth, along with his first baby rattle.

Be that as it may, Tredwell proved a more than capable replacement for his more outgoing colleague. He finished with 2 for 23 in seven overs and was involved in one of two England run outs as their ground fielding again achieved standards that in this series their catching has not matched.

Samit Patel redeemed himself for an earlier dropped catch with a sharp throw to Tredwell at the bowler's end as Peter Forrest failed to hustle a second run to long on. Clarke, again looking to up the tempo, sought a desperate single in to the off side and was comfortably run out by Morgan's direct hit.

Such has been the praise lavished upon England for their rise to No 1 in the Test and T20 rankings, allied to the suspicion that an identical standing in ODIs might not be far behind, that a slight deterioration in their catching standards has largely passed unrecorded.

James Anderson, the local favourite; the otherwise impressive Tredwell, who before his wickets would probably go down as the man least recognised; and Patel, who found himself playing the unwanted role of the fielding buffoon, dropped three catches between them in consecutive overs.

Wade was dropped off Stuart Broad and Steven Finn in successive overs, Anderson palming away a chest-high chance (a rare blemish from England's finest close fielder that almost had DEAD RUBBER stamped on it) and Tredwell, who stooped for a low one somewhat rheumatically as if the endless rain was beginning to take its toll. As for Patel's fumble when Warner hacked Broad to third man, the looks of disbelief on the faces of spectators behind him told its own story.

In that time, Warner fuelled Australia. He grafted hard and had one domineering moment when he swung Broad over the long-on boundary. He had a run-a-ball 32 when Tredwell produced turn and defeated an ungainly sweep.

Wade, opening because of Shane Watson's return, injured, to Australia, made no claim to the job for good, scrambling 12 in 41 balls before Tredwell had him stumped. It was a hard ask - in challenging English conditions and against Anderson and Steve Finn, armed with two new balls - but his critical stare at the spot where the ball had turned quite normally was a poor exit.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharon on July 13, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    @Plz_Dont_Get_Whitewashed - saw your post. You are solid India cricket guy! England batting make fool in UAE Test but they will learn. Anyone who think England bowler no good is making big mistake. But India is still very major challenge for any visitor.

  • John on July 13, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    @zenboomerang - I think I'm in the minority who has noticed that our number 6 has been averaging less than our number 7 (Prior) or even number 8 (Bres/Broad).I seriously cannot recall a game in recent years when our number 6 has held an inns together when the batsmen above have failed. I can recall Prior and Broad doing so in losing and winning matches but I honestly don't recall it. I have challenged folk to give me an example and I've not so far had a response. As I said to Sirviv If they were prepared to go into the 1st SL test after being whitewashed by Pak with only 4 bowlers (with one of them being an injured beforehand) , then I can't see them ever doing the 4 bowler thing.Your guys are different in tests in that you have Hussey coming in at 6. To be fair Ravi has not done much wrong in the last year for Eng so he prob deserves his chance. I can now see SA going in with a 5/1/5 formation. Wouldn't it be ironic (if this happens) if Tsotsobe is the difference between the 2 sides?

  • John on July 13, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    SirViv1973 on (July 12 2012, 20:01 PM GMT) Do you seriously think Eng will ever go away from the 5/1/5 formation? I mean in the 1st test vs SL we went into it coming off a 3-0 whitewash in UAE and with Broad carrying an injury and we still only went in with 4 bowlers? If they're not going to try the 5 bowler thing out in that situation then what situation would they try it in?

  • Hiren on July 13, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    I think this England team has evolved into an extremely competitive team, and are surely gonna win the Tests against SA... maybe 2-1 or1-0 ... PLUS during the India tour they are gonna humiliate India by beating them comprehensively and show the World that they are no longer JUST "fast track bullies" !!! - From a hard-core Indian Fan ;)

  • Roo on July 13, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    @JG2704... Re: the 5-1-5 argument... From an outsiders point of view, I feel the Eng selectors are wasting what is a golden opportunity with Bresnan, Broad & even Swann who would be a no.8 in most int. teams... They are almost unique in their allrounder abilities as a group & your selectors really need to look outside the old & tried methods of past era's where such players didn't exist (as a group)...

  • Roo on July 13, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    @praveen4honestremark... I appreciate your comments, but losing Watson & Lee isn't the reason Oz lost - Eng, a better team with better batters & bowlers played better cricket... Though I complain against the Oz NSP selections, at the end we are stuck with what we had & we lost - whitewashed to be precise...

  • Mathew on July 13, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    Ref the upcoming Ind/Eng series, yes it is going to be tough to take Ind down at home. If we have learnt a few lessons from Pak/SL then perhaps a few chinks might have been patched up. The result no idea, but I can tell you this, Ind bowlers are going to struggle to get 20 wickets for less than a bundle IF Eng have sorted out a few issues.

  • Sharon on July 12, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    @serious-am-i. You think England bowler have only "slight upper hand" on India bowler. LOL man what are you saying!? Did you see England bowler in UAE? Did you see England bowler in Sri Lanka? Did you see England bowler fail anyplace lately? Remember - no Anderson or Broad in ODI in India 2011. Finn is also present now. AND YET India bowler fail in all format in England, Australia, Bangladesh... you name the place - India bowler fail there! How are India going to beat England in the Test if they cannot bowl them out?

  • Martin on July 12, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    No @serious-am-i - you are completely wrong. Not for the first time either. We are talking TEST match here. You probably didn't even notice that England did not take Anderson or Broad or Strauss to India last October. It was an ODI squad, not a full strength Test squad. All have good records on all surfaces. Strauss hits a hundred in every 3 Test match Innings in india + 160 v india in WC. He's good in india. Panesar, Broad and Anderson were taking wickets for fun in Sri Lanka and UAE - what makes you think these guys won't go on and do precisely the same in india? KP will blast india "bowlers" in just the same way that he took the Sri Lankans for 150 at Colombo. That's England - lets look at india. No bowlers. Tendulkar past it, Dravid gone, VVS "not the toughest tour" Laxman finished, Sehwag & Zaheer constantly injured; short study isn't it? india don't have anyone like Herath or Ajmal or Rehman - this means india have a serious problem. And you know it.

  • John on July 12, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    @5wombats - I see the reasoning behind the 6 batsmen but to me it's never really helped us avoid defeat.I looked through the stats of the last year or so and purely by working it out by writing down figures and doing the maths ,not only was Prior averaging more than who was batting at 6 but Broad/Bres (whoever was at 8) was too. Even in the dominant display against India our number 6 was very much weaker than all the other batsmen and while I feel we will still do well with the 6/1/4 in England I still feel 5/1/5 would improve us as our 5th bowler would more likely help reduce the opposition's score than a 6th batsman would help us increase our own score.Another point is remembering what happened with Broad in the 1st SL test and I know he went in with the injury but that has always been a worry re bowlers breaking down and leaving us with 2 pacemen/1 spinner or 1 paceman/2 spinners and as another poster put 5 bowlers should reduce workload by 20% and reduce the need to rest bowlers

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