England v Australia, 3rd ODI, The Rose Bowl September 9, 2009

Australia eye 7-0 whitewash over sleepy England


It's getting on for mid-September, the Ashes are in the bag, and England's footballers have just qualified for the World Cup finals. Those are just three significant reasons why no-one other than the 21,000 punters who forked out 70-odd quid to sit in the Rose Bowl's evening chill will care too much about this latest result. This is just another day, just another defeat, for a team of cricketers going through the motions as the summer winds to a close.

Andrew Strauss, inevitably, protested the charge when it was put to him at the end of the match. "We're not good enough in one-day cricket to sit here and go easy, and I don't think we have for one minute," he said. But the evidence is all around him. No single England partnership was worth more than 41, and even that was more than 100 runs fewer than Cameron White and Michael Clarke managed in their game-breaking alliance. Whether they are setting the agenda or chasing the game, England are about as effective as the weather forecasters' prediction that 2009 would be a "barbeque summer".

"We haven't played well enough, clearly, but I don't think it's for lack of trying," said Strauss. "We've had three poor batting performances, and the first two were very winnable at the halfway mark, but as a batting unit we just haven't fired. We've got to be honest with ourselves and have a look at it, in terms of how we can improve. In one-day cricket, you can't go into your shell and grind it out, you've got to play with enough confidence to put a competitive score on the board, but at the same time make good decisions."

You've got to play, in other words, like Cameron White, who started this series with a reputation for a late-innings big hitting, but has morphed remarkably effectively into a man with the range of strokes for all occasions, and the temperament to utilise them at the correct moments. Admittedly he could - and maybe should - have been run out on 46 and 70 (just as he was for 53 in the first match at The Oval) but he didn't offer a chance off his own bat until he had made 92 and the game was already safe.

"The wickets can be quite hard to score on, so you can feel the scoreboard pressure, and pressure from the opposition at times," said White, who would not have been batting at No. 3 had Ricky Ponting not flown home for a break, and who will not feature there - injuries permitting - for the rest of the series. Either way, he did not snatch at the opportunity, and ended up teaching England's own batsmen how to survive in their own conditions.

"Maybe the scores haven't been as high because the pitches have been a little tough to score on," he said. "It just takes a little bit of time to get used to the pace of the pitch, and obviously if you bowl a good length and straight at the stump it is hard to score. It makes the run-rate a little bit slower."

"He played it very well," said Strauss. "When we were trying to squeeze the Australians he played some big shots to keep the momentum going, and he's taken his chance pretty well. We're a bit frustrated we didn't take all our chances, our fielding wasn't as good as it should have been, but fair play to him, he guided Australia home, which was what was needed in those circumstances - one guy to bat through and get a big score."

And that, as Strauss well knows, is exactly the role he himself should have played in each of the first three games. Regardless of the outcomes in the series to date, England's captain has still looked the most fluent and classy strokemaker on display. Each of his three innings, however, have been unfulfilled promises, undermined by the wrong shot at the wrong moment, not least as today's clip to midwicket when, with 63 out of a total of 98 for 4, he had scored almost two-thirds of England's runs.

We've had three poor batting performances, and the first two were very winnable at the halfway mark, but as a batting unit we just haven't fired. We've got to be honest with ourselves and have a look at it, in terms of how we can improve
Andrew Strauss

"When you're batting well, you have to make hay," said Strauss. "But I haven't done that, and that's frustrating. Every time you pull on an England shirt you've got a chance to go on and achieve something, and I am as culpable as anyone."

England have two days to regroup before returning to Lord's for the first of their four must-win matches, and though Stuart Broad will be back to shore up the seam attack, Joe Denly's football-crunched knee is likely to keep him sidelined for yet another contest. With Kevin Pietersen proving an immeasurably huge void to fill, and Paul Collingwood so exhausted after featuring in every single international fixture this year that he has reportedly asked to be released from his Champions League obligations with Delhi Daredevils, there's little immediate hope of arresting the current decline.

So, can Australia achieve an unprecedented feat, and complete a 7-0 whitewash? "Yes, at the moment," said White. "I think, if we keep playing good, consistent cricket, keep bowling and fielding well, there's no reason why not. I definitely think we want to keep the momentum going, and I don't think we're playing at our total best at the moment.

"There are still areas we feel we can improve in," he said. "There's probably things we've got to work on to get better in the rest of these four games, and hopefully come four more games time, we are at our peak. Seven one-day wins against a really good side would be a pretty strange thing to happen, but I'm not saying it can't."

Nor, at this moment in time, are many of the few people in England still paying any attention.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muthukrishnan on September 10, 2009, 19:58 GMT

    England is going to lose the series 7-0 if they dont make the below changes:

    Drop: Owais Shah (He himself is not sure what is he trying to do in the middle) Bopara (Pretty much hyped) Bresnan

    Add: Trott Mascaranas Rashid \(It would be eigth wonder if England Selectors let the Cricket world know why they dropped Rashid after his heroic performance in The Oval)

  • Arslan on September 10, 2009, 18:38 GMT

    Perhaps ECB should have put odis first.Like in 2005 before the Ashes England played very good one day cricket and hen carried the form and confidence and hunger in the tests which enabled them to win.This time they lack the hunger.So no surprise at the results.They have got what they wanted.

  • Vineet on September 10, 2009, 18:03 GMT

    7 ODIs after a highly competitive Ashes, well who cares nor the players nor the spectators.. and that is what killing the ODI cricket, these meaningless series.. I mean may be 3, but 7 well that is just insane.

  • lucy on September 10, 2009, 15:51 GMT

    I agree with Copernicus - why didnt they schedule the ODIs before the Tests? It's all rather anticlimactic, though it does serve to remind the world that England is a bunch of pretenders. (Though why they don't pick Trott & Mascarenhas for ODIs is odd.)

    And seven ODIs? What imbecile thought that up? Why not three ODIs and five T20s?

  • chris on September 10, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    Australia has been poor in one day cricket recently. We still lack the hitting power of say South Africa and India, and the bowling strength of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, but we do have a solid, young and hopefully confident squad.

    But all of a sudden we do look like a real contender for the champions trophy. Considering those who are missing from the side, eg. Haddin, Ponting, Hodge, David Hussey, Doug Bollinger, Dirk Nannes, Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Voges just to name a few.

    We still need to invest in some big hitters, but solid (and dangerous) foundations are now being layed for the next world cup.

  • Saim on September 10, 2009, 13:23 GMT

    I think a 7-0 will ease the ashes loss considerably for the aussies and take the heat off ponting.I would like for him to continue as captain longer now and lead this young side to be a powerful unit once again.Michael Clarke is surel Clarke is surely a candidate for the captaincy in the future.

  • Arvind on September 10, 2009, 13:15 GMT

    Everyone seems to have forgotten how England "prepared" for the Ashes by losing every other tournament. It is apparent they have already started preparing for the next Ashes.

  • K. on September 10, 2009, 12:46 GMT

    andrew, andrew, andrew, and the selectors......shake your heads, and lets make better team selections. Talent abounds. So put aside your conservative thinking and choose a side that will do us proud. And Andrew you need a course in power plays, especially the when to.

  • Peter on September 10, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    POPCORN - stop your whinging, Ricky Ponting has shown good grace by accepting England deserved their Ashes victory - you're only winning the ODI's because you're marginally less rubbish than England in a totally meaningless tournament.

  • Khawaja on September 10, 2009, 10:24 GMT

    while one may think that the ashes might be more important it shows that teh english cricketers are not too good in other forms of cricket...going on the first three matches the english team is badly mismatched and one can only think of graham napier whose one inning was enough but teh english have not even given him a tryout...many think that teh english one day team needs many replacements in batting especially...bopara might be a has been already alongwith shah and the wicketkeeper...maybe it is time for another opener and another wicketkeeper until flintoff and kevin return...if white can bat so well than teh english bowlers must be really tired out mentally...i think not much can be said for the england captain and coach as well

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