Australia v Bangladesh, Champions Trophy, Group A June 10, 2017

Undercooked and underwhelmed, Australia head home to check the footy scores

A distracted and angry team played without passion or practice, in a tournament that is off the radar for Australia's sporting public

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In the gloom of Edgbaston, with England nearly home, the rain about to come, and their million-dollar bowler clutching his hamstring, Glenn Maxwell dropped a catch that he misread so badly it almost hit him. Even when it didn't rain on Australia's chances, their cricket was underwhelming.

Australia have played only one completed match - and even that was incomplete. They were poor in their first match, and much better in the second. By the end of those two washouts, their tally of two points was exactly what they deserved. If you include their two warm-ups, they'd played in four games in England, and finished just this one.

Essentially Australia's only game of this entire tournament was a knockout game against the only unbeaten team, the favourites, the home team, and they came into it with no proper preparation. Most casual Australian cricket fans don't even know what the Champions Trophy is, what it means, or how often Australia has won it. Plus, it's footy season, and this is hardly the Ashes. Besides, the Australian players haven't had to face anything as hostile on the field as they have from their own board.

But even though Cricket Australia's executives might have played even more reckless shots than their top order, this Australian team never looked right from the moment it took the field in this tournament.

The problem started at No.4. Moises Henriques has never made more than 18 in an ODI. His top score for Australia is 81 not out in Tests. He averages 31 in List A cricket. He made two List A fifties in his first nine seasons of cricket. He's only ever made limited-overs hundreds in domestic cricket. He's 30. Ten Australian players have scored over 4000 runs in ODI cricket batting at No.4: Michael Clarke, Damien Martyn, Allan Border, Michael Bevan, Mike Hussey, Steve Waugh and Greg Chappell.

Henriques has good recent form in the IPL, Big Bash and one-day cup, but at No. 4, in an ICC tournament, it was two or three places too high.

It is not Henriques' fault he is batting at 4: he is there because of a hole in the centre of this team. Australia are a batsman short and a bowler short. And to elongate the batting and rush through the fifth bowler's overs quicker, Henriques has been brought in to fill this gap. The middle overs in this tournament are when bowling sides try and take wickets - England smashed through theirs with wrist spin and pace to make sure Australia had nothing left with which to strike at the death. But in the 13th to 15th of a must-win game, Australia was bowling Moises Henriques and Travis Head when they needed wickets with no catchers, no hope of a plan other than '"let's hope Ben Stokes does something idiotic".

Would Australia have won the game with Marcus Stoinis instead of Henriques, or even Chris Lynn for Henriques, with Head and Maxwell combining for ten overs? Probably not, because even though the chemistry was wrong, the performances weren't much better. Pat Cummins has taken two wickets in 25 overs in this tournament, and served up 144 runs - 52 of which came in his first five overs against New Zealand. Today, Stokes took him for 43 runs from 28 balls.

Steven Smith was an angry man for much of a sorry Australia performance © Getty Images

David Warner came into this tournament having made a staggering 23.5% of Australia's runs since the last World Cup: here he failed in two of the three games. Steven Smith makes 16.5% of Australia's runs; he failed in two out of three as well. Starc looked underdone in the first match, bowled beautifully in the washout against Bangladesh, and clutched his hamstring for much of this game.

Australia's game-plan relies on one of their top three batting big, to make up for their shallowness below them. Instead they lost regular wickets, and then 5 for 15 once the tail was exposed. Australia's game-plan relies on their fast bowlers taking regular wickets. Instead they started brilliantly but couldn't keep striking. And that was the ballgame.

You could extrapolate this one game and talk about the Ashes, and a psychological dominance that England might feel they now have over Australia, but you probably shouldn't. The Australians might be embarrassed that a team lost to England with six or seven potential Test players, but you know, they played a better-prepared team with better form in a must-win game, and they lost. Their ODI team might need a stronger allrounder, but other than that, it's hard to answer any big questions from two washouts and a loss.

Plus there are bigger questions in Australia that need to be answered right now, what's Schapelle Corby up to, who's winning in the footy and what is the best kind of fusion to win with on a reality TV cooking show?

At 35 for 3, Hazlewood raps Stokes on the pad, the Australians are screaming, and one ball later they are coming off. Smith looks frustrated, but he has all day. He was angry when Henriques got out, he was angry when he got out, and he was angry when his team fielded poorly. The only time he wasn't angry was when the rain came for the last time, then it was relief.

Australia, caught rain, bowled England, 0.

Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aussie_Nate on June 11, 2017, 22:57 GMT

    @behind_the_bowlers_arm I tend to agree with your selections. In my mind henriques, maxwell and head should be the same spot. Cummins isnt in form and hastings shoukd have got the nod. Hopefully the selectors learn that IPL form doesnt translate to odi form

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on June 11, 2017, 19:38 GMT

    England are in very good form and deserved to win but Australia threw away a couple of excellent positions (181/3 off 32 , Eng 35/3). They looked undercooked and made some selection blunders. Hopefully by the 2019 World Cup Jason Gillespie (or Justin Langer) will be in charge and the selectors replaced completely. I'd have Warner as captain in short form just for his aggression and surely he cant misuse Zampa as terribly as Smith does. The RIGHT team for Saturday was : Warner Finch Smith Lynn Head Handscomb Whiteman Starc Hastings Zampa Hazlewood. Quite an achievement to only pick 7 of them.

  • MrCompletely on June 11, 2017, 18:17 GMT


    We only deserve to be in the semi, just as long as the game we were losing against NZ was rained off, and the one we were winning against Bangladesh wasn't

    Rain cost us nothing. Spineless performance against England did.

  • unfairworld on June 11, 2017, 16:47 GMT

    Aussie deserve to be in the semifinal with a probable win against low ranked BD; but, BD do not deserve to be in the semifinal with a clean win against high ranked NZ.

  • cricfan4644857222 on June 11, 2017, 16:27 GMT

    @Sunilvaidya why do you say Australia "lost" to NZ when Aus were better placed at 55/3 than Eng and BD won from? That match was still 50/50.

  • sunilvaidya on June 11, 2017, 16:12 GMT

    aussie deserved to go out...only 1 win against bd and losses against nz and eng....

  • Herath-UK on June 11, 2017, 14:09 GMT

    Only way Sri Lanka (or Pak) to avoid facing England in the semis is if today's match between Ind & SA gets washed off, there is still time for that. But,there is no rain, why there is no rain in England,Kimber?

  • cricfan4644857222 on June 11, 2017, 13:50 GMT

    Australia will get it together when it matters. ODI WC, big test series, April test ranking etc.

  • Ajay6877 on June 11, 2017, 13:32 GMT

    Bad luck Aussies.. Non-deserving BD will soon thrown out by Ind in Semis.

  • karachidude23 on June 11, 2017, 13:05 GMT

    Pat Cummins looks like the much handsomer version of Muhammad was even a bit faster but still failed international cricket with his one dimensional bowling, i think england will win the ashes this time.

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