October 3, 2009

Australian intimidation blows England away

England felt the full force of Australia's aggression as Ponting and Watson turned executioners on the field
46

It felt like old times at Centurion today: as the evening grew longer and the ball continued to travel past the ropes, there was awe in the air again. England have known only misery against Australia in one-day cricket in the past few weeks, but even they are unlikely to have felt the force as strongly as they did today. The bowling was aggressive and accurate on a benign pitch, and the batting was pure intimidation.

Ten overs into the run-chase, all that remained in the match was the prospect of a grand exhibition of batting from a man who knows how to bestride the big stage. The pitch was a batting beauty and England didn't have the resources to challenge Australia after they had been let down by their batsmen, but the way Ricky Ponting began, and Shane Watson finished, it was difficult to gauge by how many runs England had fallen short.

England will have felt like they were up against two executioners. Watson, all brawn and bustle, clubbed them. Ponting, all pomp and mastery, sliced them with the dexterity of a master chef.

By the 10th over, Ponting had hit seven exquisite boundaries, each played with precision and majesty. His first five scoring strokes were fours, and four of them came off James Anderson, who alone carried England's slender hopes. Tim Bresnan, England's batting hero of the day, who would not have made the team had Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom been available, was hurried into service in the ninth over. Ponting duly dispatched him for two fours either side of the wicket, and England's options were quickly reduced to the part-timers.

The years seem to sit light on Ponting, and a break after a spirit-sapping Ashes seems to have sparked something in him. Since his return, he has made 520 runs at 74.28 from eight matches. During the course of this innings, he became the first Australian, and only the third batsman after Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya, to make 12,000 ODI runs. Throughout this tournament he has batted in the manner of his prime.

Watson ended up with more runs, but it was Ponting who snuffed out hope for England after Graham Onions had removed Tim Paine early. In fact, the contrast between the two batsmen couldn't have been more stark. In Watson's every shot, the effort was palpable. Early in his innings, he swished and missed; he then heaved and walloped, and towards the end of his innings, he simply opened his shoulders and cross-batted them into the stands.

Ponting merely stroked them, off the front foot, off the back foot, through the covers, backward of point, past midwicket, over mid-off; each stroke conceived after the ball had been delivered, and executed flawlessly. For both the batsmen, England set the bouncer trap with two men behind square. Watson, who had been dismissed pulling Ashish Nehra earlier in the tournament, missed a few, and then took to clubbing over midwicket. But Ponting employed his trademark pull, getting over the ball, rolling his wrists, placing them between fielders. From England's point of view, it was worth trying something rather than letting the innings drift away. But Ponting was too good for them.

Later Ponting said Australia had played the game exactly the way they had wanted to. "Right from the start of the England series we were focusing on being well prepared for the Champions Trophy and being in a position where we could play our best cricket when we needed to, and we did that today," Ponting said. "The Australian cricket team prides itself on standing up at big moments, and I think we have done that today."

Australia's performance with the bat put in perspective both the effort of their bowlers and that of the England batsmen. Andrew Strauss insisted later that as a team they had decided to bat aggressively, but after one spectacular success against South Africa when all the stars aligned for them, the method has now failed twice in succession.

Deep within, there will be recognition of their deficiencies. Intent can only take them so far. At best, Strauss, who hit only the ninth ODI six of his career in this game, can be a solid starter. Owais Shah's game is too one-dimensional to succeed consistently. Eoin Morgan has promise but is yet to be tested fully. With all his limitations, Paul Collingwood is their most reliable ODI batsman in the current team, and that says something. They need Kevin Pietersen to provide substance and ballast. No team can be built around one man.

England must not retreat to their timid ways following consecutive reversals. But if they do not develop their ODI batting skills, it is difficult to see them achieving consistent success in this form.

Given what transpired later, it would have perhaps been inconsequential, but it was hard to fathom why a team must wait till the last five overs to consume the batting Powerplay. Or does it say something about England's thinking despite their new-found commitment to positive batting? Were they worried that instead of seeing it as an opportunity to hit through or over the field, their set batsmen would be unsettled by the sight of men in the ring?

In the end they managed to make use only half the Powerplay, and only 13 runs came off it. In the first over of their batting Powerplay, Australia scored 23. The difference between the teams was that big.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • EoLMasTeR on October 5, 2009, 16:08 GMT

    The india tour is a big one coz the conditions here are challenging for the aussies specially considering india a quality team with quality playerrs yes they have been no 1 4 lst 10 yrs and look no 1 jst now but remeber they lost 2 back to back 5 match seris to SAf also they strugged a bit against the kiwis at home which is fair considering they were rebuilding. now that they have settled somewhat they have to show the result . also ponting would dearly love to avenge their test seris defeat to india last year which sort of started all the trouble for them ! they beat india they will have beaten to subcontinent giants india and pak and then will become the undisputed no 1 . winning agnst india will ensure their world domination 4 another 5 yrs ! otherrwise it will again be musical chairs between india australia n sa !!

  • RohanMarkJay on October 4, 2009, 19:31 GMT

    I know now why Australia are consistently so successful over so many decades in this wonderful game called Cricket. They are a Cricket culture that prides itself on Discipline and professionalism. They make the most of the talent as cricketers compared to other nations, the professionalism of their well trained troops always more often than not win the day on the cricket battle field. I've watched Australia for a very long time and it is always the case. They may lose but they are never down for long. Other cricket nations can learn a lot from them. That is why they are favourites to win this tournament despite probably more talented teams in the tournament.

  • Winsome on October 4, 2009, 18:46 GMT

    At the least, they should consider resting Mitch. He has been in all forms of the game all of this English summer. He is obviously becoming more and more handy for them with the bat in this form of the game, and will be a miss at no 8, but send him home for a rest as he will be doing it all again this Australian summer without a break.

    Hussey as well, drop Clarke in for him, even if we seriously lose out in the run-rate, it has to be done as he will be in all forms over summer as well.

  • coeurlion on October 4, 2009, 14:43 GMT

    In reply to chokkashokka's comment 'The real test for the Kangaroos is the upcoming 7 game series in India'... what rubbish... I would counter with 'The real test for India is the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa'. The equation is the same for ALL teams... on NEUTRAL ground (only SA can claim home ground advantage), win 2 out 3 group games with the best XI you have available (injuries, sminjuries... we had no Bracken, Clarke or Haddin... finalist, England... no KP or Freddie... semi-finalist, NZ... I'm surprised they could even get an XI together... finalist), and hey presto... you get into the semis. No rocket science here. We get the chance to defend the silverware we won last time... are India our opponents? They're not? NZ is? Well... need I say more? One who lives in a greenhouse should not throw stones. As for the 7 game series... I heartily agree that we should blood some youngsters... give them a go and see how they fare...hopefully we might find some players of the future.

  • seley1 on October 4, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    The series in india will determine who is number one in the icc rankings 'but' its not pinnacle and australia i suggest will rest many players for johnson, hauritz, siddle, hilfenhaus and hussey have been on tour for more than 4 months and need a rest. India however should be number one considering how many good players they have but sadly for the indian fans their not, the indian team also have terrible mangement to me it seems if they dont win its the end of the world and that is why there is hardly any new batsmen getting into the team. simply indian fans toughen up, and dont be so biased to your team australia still deserve to be number one while the indian cricket team still deserves the title 'Choker' as well as south africa.

  • XrSxLxN on October 4, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    Australia still is the best team in ODI. If you look at their current side, there are few names missing. They dont have Nathan Bracken, who is a key member of side and really balance the bowling attack. They dont have Clarke, best player of spin aside from Ponting, he can hold the middle order against the best of spin attacks like what Pakistan and Sri Lanka have. Sure he is slow but Aussie would not have collapse against Pakistan if he was there. Thats his job. And with Haddin, Watson and Ponting coming before him, I dont think he's rather slower scoring rate should be that much problem, not to forget he can be handy with bowl at times and is one of the best fielders in world.

    About India, why are they even being considered for best ODI team? South Africa and Pakistan are clearly better team than India. South Africa is easily the second best team in ODI in my opinion.

  • underarmincidenthater on October 4, 2009, 5:37 GMT

    Yesterday, Australia showed their colours as true masters of the game. The ICC Champions Trophy final will be interesting, with Australia hoping to show their prowess, and New Zealand wanting to get a leg up into the top slots of the world ODI rankings. Another aspect to watch out for is the differing views of the teams, as Australia is known for being sore losers and winners, whereas NZ recently won the ICC Team Spirit award for having a good attitude.

  • eyballfallenout on October 4, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    Whats interesting is, Australia is winning even with all there champions retired and current players out through injury, so in-fact this weak Australia side is still as good as SA and Sri lanka and better than India and Enland. There is only 3 specialists batsman in this team at the moment and they are still winning. When this team goes to full strength they will be a force almost like they used to be. If this team does manage somehow to win in India, will the indian fans be willing to take it on the chin and admit Australia are the better team, or go through footage to try and find an incorrect LBW and make up more excuses. Anyway, i think 5-7 games against Sri Lanka at home would be better indication who is best in the world. India really are not there.

  • henchart on October 4, 2009, 2:17 GMT

    Consistency is the benchmark of world champions.WI showed that from late 1970s to mid 1980s .Aus have been consistent for a decade now.SA and Ind are contenders for world champs tag only, till they achieve the consistency of Aus.Upcoming7 match ODI series of Aus in India should be closely contested one but in no way an indication of winner there being the World Champs.Some comments here like no importance to one off win tournaments,Aus not yet ready to be no.1 ODI side etc are laughable .ICC events are not one off events but require consistency which neither Indians ,SA,PAK or SLK have shown .Aus have been consistent in winning these so called one off tournaments and are hence the world champs.Rankings or no rankings,Aus records speak for them .Disgruntled fans of Ind can say whatever they like.

  • Lollylegs on October 4, 2009, 1:53 GMT

    What is going on here with this feedback. There seems to be a very pointed suggestion that India are better then Australia if they win the 7 day ODI series coming up. I think that after a long summer, an Ashes tour of 4 months, the Champions' Trophy and other engagements that Australia could and should send a half strength side for this series. Much prefer that and have Ponting, Clarke, Johnson and co ready for the next Test series. Australia will use the upcoming series v India purely as an experience and for blooding new players. The bottom line is that India have not won anything in the 1 Dayers and hence should not even consider themselves close to the Aussies. Test cricket maybe - one dayers - not even close.

  • EoLMasTeR on October 5, 2009, 16:08 GMT

    The india tour is a big one coz the conditions here are challenging for the aussies specially considering india a quality team with quality playerrs yes they have been no 1 4 lst 10 yrs and look no 1 jst now but remeber they lost 2 back to back 5 match seris to SAf also they strugged a bit against the kiwis at home which is fair considering they were rebuilding. now that they have settled somewhat they have to show the result . also ponting would dearly love to avenge their test seris defeat to india last year which sort of started all the trouble for them ! they beat india they will have beaten to subcontinent giants india and pak and then will become the undisputed no 1 . winning agnst india will ensure their world domination 4 another 5 yrs ! otherrwise it will again be musical chairs between india australia n sa !!

  • RohanMarkJay on October 4, 2009, 19:31 GMT

    I know now why Australia are consistently so successful over so many decades in this wonderful game called Cricket. They are a Cricket culture that prides itself on Discipline and professionalism. They make the most of the talent as cricketers compared to other nations, the professionalism of their well trained troops always more often than not win the day on the cricket battle field. I've watched Australia for a very long time and it is always the case. They may lose but they are never down for long. Other cricket nations can learn a lot from them. That is why they are favourites to win this tournament despite probably more talented teams in the tournament.

  • Winsome on October 4, 2009, 18:46 GMT

    At the least, they should consider resting Mitch. He has been in all forms of the game all of this English summer. He is obviously becoming more and more handy for them with the bat in this form of the game, and will be a miss at no 8, but send him home for a rest as he will be doing it all again this Australian summer without a break.

    Hussey as well, drop Clarke in for him, even if we seriously lose out in the run-rate, it has to be done as he will be in all forms over summer as well.

  • coeurlion on October 4, 2009, 14:43 GMT

    In reply to chokkashokka's comment 'The real test for the Kangaroos is the upcoming 7 game series in India'... what rubbish... I would counter with 'The real test for India is the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa'. The equation is the same for ALL teams... on NEUTRAL ground (only SA can claim home ground advantage), win 2 out 3 group games with the best XI you have available (injuries, sminjuries... we had no Bracken, Clarke or Haddin... finalist, England... no KP or Freddie... semi-finalist, NZ... I'm surprised they could even get an XI together... finalist), and hey presto... you get into the semis. No rocket science here. We get the chance to defend the silverware we won last time... are India our opponents? They're not? NZ is? Well... need I say more? One who lives in a greenhouse should not throw stones. As for the 7 game series... I heartily agree that we should blood some youngsters... give them a go and see how they fare...hopefully we might find some players of the future.

  • seley1 on October 4, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    The series in india will determine who is number one in the icc rankings 'but' its not pinnacle and australia i suggest will rest many players for johnson, hauritz, siddle, hilfenhaus and hussey have been on tour for more than 4 months and need a rest. India however should be number one considering how many good players they have but sadly for the indian fans their not, the indian team also have terrible mangement to me it seems if they dont win its the end of the world and that is why there is hardly any new batsmen getting into the team. simply indian fans toughen up, and dont be so biased to your team australia still deserve to be number one while the indian cricket team still deserves the title 'Choker' as well as south africa.

  • XrSxLxN on October 4, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    Australia still is the best team in ODI. If you look at their current side, there are few names missing. They dont have Nathan Bracken, who is a key member of side and really balance the bowling attack. They dont have Clarke, best player of spin aside from Ponting, he can hold the middle order against the best of spin attacks like what Pakistan and Sri Lanka have. Sure he is slow but Aussie would not have collapse against Pakistan if he was there. Thats his job. And with Haddin, Watson and Ponting coming before him, I dont think he's rather slower scoring rate should be that much problem, not to forget he can be handy with bowl at times and is one of the best fielders in world.

    About India, why are they even being considered for best ODI team? South Africa and Pakistan are clearly better team than India. South Africa is easily the second best team in ODI in my opinion.

  • underarmincidenthater on October 4, 2009, 5:37 GMT

    Yesterday, Australia showed their colours as true masters of the game. The ICC Champions Trophy final will be interesting, with Australia hoping to show their prowess, and New Zealand wanting to get a leg up into the top slots of the world ODI rankings. Another aspect to watch out for is the differing views of the teams, as Australia is known for being sore losers and winners, whereas NZ recently won the ICC Team Spirit award for having a good attitude.

  • eyballfallenout on October 4, 2009, 3:22 GMT

    Whats interesting is, Australia is winning even with all there champions retired and current players out through injury, so in-fact this weak Australia side is still as good as SA and Sri lanka and better than India and Enland. There is only 3 specialists batsman in this team at the moment and they are still winning. When this team goes to full strength they will be a force almost like they used to be. If this team does manage somehow to win in India, will the indian fans be willing to take it on the chin and admit Australia are the better team, or go through footage to try and find an incorrect LBW and make up more excuses. Anyway, i think 5-7 games against Sri Lanka at home would be better indication who is best in the world. India really are not there.

  • henchart on October 4, 2009, 2:17 GMT

    Consistency is the benchmark of world champions.WI showed that from late 1970s to mid 1980s .Aus have been consistent for a decade now.SA and Ind are contenders for world champs tag only, till they achieve the consistency of Aus.Upcoming7 match ODI series of Aus in India should be closely contested one but in no way an indication of winner there being the World Champs.Some comments here like no importance to one off win tournaments,Aus not yet ready to be no.1 ODI side etc are laughable .ICC events are not one off events but require consistency which neither Indians ,SA,PAK or SLK have shown .Aus have been consistent in winning these so called one off tournaments and are hence the world champs.Rankings or no rankings,Aus records speak for them .Disgruntled fans of Ind can say whatever they like.

  • Lollylegs on October 4, 2009, 1:53 GMT

    What is going on here with this feedback. There seems to be a very pointed suggestion that India are better then Australia if they win the 7 day ODI series coming up. I think that after a long summer, an Ashes tour of 4 months, the Champions' Trophy and other engagements that Australia could and should send a half strength side for this series. Much prefer that and have Ponting, Clarke, Johnson and co ready for the next Test series. Australia will use the upcoming series v India purely as an experience and for blooding new players. The bottom line is that India have not won anything in the 1 Dayers and hence should not even consider themselves close to the Aussies. Test cricket maybe - one dayers - not even close.

  • billybob67 on October 4, 2009, 1:50 GMT

    Some Indian cricket fans live in a funny little fantasy world. The Indian cricket team is the most overrated, over pampered, under achieving bunch of prima donnas ever to don their national colours. A billion plus people to pick from, they should have a team that can crush anyone in the world yet all they have is a bunch of chokers who can't step up in the big matches. Pakistan has far less people to pick from and they at least have a team that has a bit of heart and fighting spirt even though they are inconsistant.Australia can also be inconsistant from time to time but in the games that count they almost always come out on top. Australia doesn't really care too much about t20 games. The SA team is the most disappointing although they make me laugh when they fail world cup after world etc after they tell everyone how good they are. NZ vs AUS will be a good game if they Kiwi's can get their 'A" game going. Maybe the Indian and SA teams should be at the game to see how its really done.

  • Sanj747 on October 4, 2009, 1:50 GMT

    Normal service has resumed. Australia do well, India fail and the Indian supporters typically show they are sore losers.

  • Uranium on October 4, 2009, 1:43 GMT

    There's something mentally wrong with India when on the big stage. Its as if their players lack character and exhibit a childish element. The Srisanth-Harbajan slapping crying IPL incident is the perfect example. Indian cricket needs to harden up, grow 2 balls and a spine. Even Tendulkar with all his brilliance and talent doesn't have the willpower and sheer force of character to carry India when it matters. India only play well when in the comfort zone at home on their dustbowls in meaningless low pressure series'. So no, it will not prove anything if India were to do well in the coming 7 game series vs Aus. Anyway these 7 game series' should soon become extinct, they are killing ODI cricket. The condensed 8 team CT was exactly what ODI cricket needed, there's hardly been a boring moment (compare with recent 7 gm Aus England series). Its laughable to suggest that the coming 7 game series will decide who is best in the world To tell the truth I dont think any one team is best right now

  • __PK on October 4, 2009, 0:45 GMT

    Some interesting sour-grapes comments here. balajik1968 reckons the openers are makeshift - I wonder how many ODI hundreds do they each need to make to make him realise they are here to stay. EoLMasTeR reckons they're not ready to be No 1 - I'm sorry, they ARE No 1 and have been for most of the last 10+ years. and how can an ODI tour of a nation which can't even make the semis of this tournament be a career highlight for a man who's captained two successive undefeated World Cups? And HundredPercentBarcelonista is selectively choosing statistics from T20 and ancient Champions Trophies - as long as we're asking rhetorical questions, HundredPercentBarcelonista, didn't they win the last edition of the Champions Trophy?

  • Sanj747 on October 4, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    Just read the HundredPercentBarcelonista. What is your point mate? Didn't Australia witn the last 3 world cups. And in the last world cup they were undefeated. Not sure if you remember they flogged India in the 03 final, didn't get the chance to play India in 07 as India didn't make it beyond the first stage, and they won the champions trophy in India in 06. In 07 they blew SAF away who talk big like India. None of these teams have in them to deliver on the big stage when it really matters. They both suffer from an obessive disorder of wanted to be No1. Even if Aus win the CT they won't be a clear No1. It's still even as Aus is re-building. However, they can deliver with big innings from big name players in the big tournaments like Ponting unlike India and SAF.

  • chokkashokka on October 3, 2009, 23:23 GMT

    The real test for the Kangaroos is the upcoming 7 game series in India. I don't really have much regard for these one off win tournaments. I mean really, one team looses one game to questionable lbw and caught decision and is out of the tournament? India were understrength and managed to make a meal of each of the matches they won. Can they play spin or will Harbhajan and Mishra run circles around the Kangroos? Very soon we shall find out. That is the real test. Now only if NZ can lasso the Kangaroo will the real worth of this tournament come alive.

  • crankypet on October 3, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    I guess all those talking about Pakistan beating Australia better start packing their bags along with the team that just got flogged by NZ. NZ is a worthy opponent and will be a good test for the Aussies who are sick of beating poor English ODI teams.

  • balajik1968 on October 3, 2009, 15:54 GMT

    The rebuilding process for Australia is not complete yet.The openers are makeshift.Tim Paine has thrown his hat into the wicketkeeping ring.They still need a good spinner to give balance to the attack the way Warne did.The bowling looks to be in good hands. But the batting looks brittle.

  • EoLMasTeR on October 3, 2009, 15:18 GMT

    I think the comming tour of india is going to be a very important tour for australia i think they are not yet ready to be no 1 in ODIs even if they win the CT They should be ready after the twin home seris after home as by then they will have a good settled side with the top players in full flow If they win the odi seris in india then it will be one of the highlight of ricky ponting;s career

  • SyedArbabAhmed on October 3, 2009, 14:14 GMT

    Australia is a big team for big matches.

  • sehwag1 on October 3, 2009, 14:06 GMT

    good job sambit. i think indian players don,t know what is there batting position? sometimes raina,rahul,gambir,dhoni,yurag comes at number three they like to do experiment then drop some players. ricky pointing comes at number 3 no matter what happen? i can solve this problem sehwag,gambir,yusufphatan,sachintendulkar,yuragsingh\rohitsharma,dhoni,raina,harbajan,munufpatel,ssrennath,kamrankhan\ this my team for austaralia tour in october. if they follow this team india will. dhoni you need confidence in yusuf pahtan at number 3 don,t send him no 7 becuase only 3 balls left and team is under pressure.tell him to play natural game at number 3 he done well at number. bring back rohit sharma in team if yurag is not fit. sachin position should be at 4 then yurag or rothit sharma should come. dhoni donn,t do ads and think about team. this team can beat australia if you take words. drop rahuldarvid,dinesh,mishra,praveen,ashira nehar. you don,t need this players who give 89 runs in fielding.

  • CharliefromAruba on October 3, 2009, 13:56 GMT

    Espsecially after Aussie yesterday's performance I'm wondering why R. Ponting is not in the world ODI- or in the world Testside. I'm not reading anything on behalf of it. I'd pick him!?

  • boris6491 on October 3, 2009, 13:34 GMT

    Superbly written Sambit. It was really a tale of two contrasting innings yesterday, the only similarity they seemed to have was their massive effectiveness. Lets hope Australia can reproduce both the batting and bowling form they displayed yesterday and not get complacent prior to the final, whoever faces them will give them a run for their money. Ponting just keeps proving that calls for his retirement are ridiculously premature and he can retire at will, he has earned that right if his fellow 12,000 clubbers, Sachin and Sanath have. And its great to see that he intends to retire at the top of his game which few doubt he will. Watson's destructive ability was really on show yesterday. People ignore the vast talent he has as an allrounder, most particularly as a batsman, his versatility is his hidden plus point. I hope he can also continue that form into the big game. England were just poor yesterday and their flaws in limited overs cricket arent a secret. They have to work hard.

  • HundredPercentBarcelonista on October 3, 2009, 13:34 GMT

    Didn't Australia crash out in the first round of the 2008 T20 World Cup? Some way to step up on the big stage. They also lost three games in the 2007 T20 World Cup, one of which was against Zimbabwe. Didn't they also fail to make the finals of the first four editions of the Champions Trophy?

  • S.Rizwan on October 3, 2009, 12:57 GMT

    Well for me Australia is no longer weak and they are back as a team which can crush any team and win world tournaments without Gilly, Hayden and McGrath.Whoever still feels they are weak let me tell them that they are surely going to win the Champions Trophy and successfully win against India in India.

  • Patrick_Clarke on October 3, 2009, 12:43 GMT

    Yes - normal service has been resumed with England's inept ODI side. But, lets face it, even if Australia win their next thousand ODIs and England lose their next thousand, no way will it make up for losing the Ashes. Wouldn't Australia swap every one of these wins to have won the recent Ashes series. Which matches will still be remembered in months and years to come? Only the Ashes. These ODIs will be quickly forgotten like almost all the others.

  • Vilander on October 3, 2009, 12:15 GMT

    Aus is a great team, ind have flat track batsmen and pathetic piechuckers, saf have quick bowlers and often ordinary batsmen, pak and sl are good freak teams.Indians esp are overrated,yes great aus team will definitly blow away india in the up comming 7 match series..no problems at all...

  • Parth_Pala on October 3, 2009, 11:59 GMT

    To be fair Australia have beaten , Pakistan (which beat a Indian team which was missing a lot more important players than Australia but duly lost the last time we met), England (a team which beat South Africa , but lost to India 5-0) , and a sub par West Indies to get to the final. Hardly convincing. The same team which lost 3 matches to India in the CB series. To say this tournament suddenly matter when the common consensus was its a useless tournament before the start, and then to say it suddenly matters is nitpicking. Now the 7 match series if anything will decide which is the better ODI team. A long series truly shows which team is better since it is a basis of consistency as opposed to a one off luck of the draw where anything including the toss can be the decider of who wins. Should Australia lose they would have lost at home and away and the argument shall be set straight. Should Australia win then I guess we can decide who has won more matches over the home and away series .

  • scritty on October 3, 2009, 11:52 GMT

    The idea that SA v'c India is to see who is the best one day side in the world is ridiculous. India are not even in the frame and SA might be right up there, but without Austrlia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. the 7 match series (why 7 ?? that's at least 2 too many) series proves nothing. What have INdia done in major world ODI competitions in the last ten years , did they get pst the opening round of this event. Nothing and no.

    "To decide who is the best" What a joke !

  • coeurlion on October 3, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    SureshAmsterdam... you're right, we're not there yet. We've lost those greats... but I hope that this new guard can create a (green and) golden age of their own. They know what standard to aspire to, and they'll fight tooth and nail to get there. However, the CT has yet to be played out. NZ plays Pakistan in the other semi... my prediction is a Pakistani win... then it's a replay of the Group A match where Australia won on the last ball. If my prediction holds and Pakistan win, I'll not be taking an Aus win for granted. As Ian Chappell said, Pakistan are 'mercurial'... they can obliterate any team if they are on song. I'll rest easy only if we have won the CT. We're hosting Pakistan this summer... that'll be a good series... may the best team win!

  • Sanj747 on October 3, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    Sambit enjoyed reading this piece. Do like reading your pieces.

  • Bollo on October 3, 2009, 10:37 GMT

    Have to agree with the 3 comments post Nata - Australia, and Ponting, continue to do well when the heat is on. Do people forget that Australia have won the past 3 world cups and were beaten finalists in 96? What has India done in this form of the game since 1983? 7 completely meaningless games after this tournament won't change a thing. SAf and India simply don't turn up when it matters.

  • Sanj747 on October 3, 2009, 10:36 GMT

    Agree with mcaiyzs2. The Indians and some of their supporters are prima donnas. Get a life.

  • Gippslander on October 3, 2009, 10:23 GMT

    Sambit, You have written one of the most intelligent articles of the past 20 years on contrasting batting techniques, approaches and styles - it was a great read. Thanks.

  • mcaiyzs2 on October 3, 2009, 10:20 GMT

    @Nata. Are you still going on about Pak v Ind game. I guess some people will always be in denial, and besides Raina was lucky to get to 49 with all the false shots he played. He should have been out much sooner. The Indian team are nothing but prima donnas

  • Sanj747 on October 3, 2009, 10:02 GMT

    Nata with due respect a 7 match series in India ain't going to settle who the best team in the world. The aussies are re-building not the best team in the world neither are the Indians or the SAFs. However it must be acknowledged the aussies have the ability to lift in the big tournaments which India and SAF continually fail to do. Never write the aussies off. They lift when it matters and that's what makes them tougher than anyone else. India and SAF all talk but never deliver in a world cup or champions trophy. I'll guarantee that neither India or SAF will win the next world cup.

  • Nata on October 3, 2009, 9:28 GMT

    with due respect to Ponting's brilliant innings, I feel it is far too early to call them the best team. One can tell so, only if they comfortably forget how they struggled against pak last match. One or two decisions can swing the game and Raina really got a tough one against Pak, else India would have been in the picture till now. With the hope of having the India A team and not the B team [ especially the bowling dept] that played in CT fit and ready, there is a seven match series against India and for sure that would settle the score on who the best is.

  • SureshAmsterdam on October 3, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    Sorry to disagree with you, popcorn, Nipun - but chasing a sub-par score - even though Ponting & Watson did so with class & style - on a batting surface against a decent attack does NOT make this Aussie side the equal of their earlier version when Warne, Gilly, McGrath and Haydos were around. Those days are gone forever. I'd say that on any given day, depending on the batting track and who wins the toss, whether its a day-night game etc. etc. etc. its a toss-up between Australia, SA, India, and even SA and Pakistan - if they turn up. Not at all a bad thing, makes for a much more interesting game!

  • SureshAmsterdam on October 3, 2009, 8:47 GMT

    There should be no doubt at all in anyone's minds that Ponting is the master when it comes to stepping up in big events, in addition to being one of the greats. In this respect he is more dependable than than his contemporaries including Tendulkar, Lara, Inzi, Jayawardene & Jayasuriya. The Aussie team still depends greatly on Brett Lee to bowl the opposition out for sub-par scores, now in tandem with Siddle, who is a great up and coming talent. Without Brett Lee, I'm not sure that Siddle, Mitchell Johnson (who's a fantastic talent, but still inconsistent), Watson, Hopes & Hauritz would be able to keep SA, India, Sri Lanka and Pak bastmen in check. This of course would make the task much more difficult for Aussie batsmen. So right now I'd say a fit, fast & furious Brett Lee working with the others is making things a lot easier for Aussie batsmen. It remains to be seen if this will continue if he's unfit or when he retires.

  • Winsome on October 3, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    jzmn, it isn't just his slow scoring in the past few weeks. Clarke's strike rate is below 70 for the past year and overall strike rate has been dropping game on game for practically 2 years now. He needs big hitters around him, which I am not sure we have apart from Hussey.

    Watson has opened successfully a long time before Marsh did it, though I think Marsh is still going to be a long term prospect for us. Watson can fit in anywhere in short forms of the game.

    Paine has done far better than anyone expected, especially with the gloves. You can bet your mortgage that Haddin would have dropped one of the difficult chances yesterday, possibly more than one. Very sloppy keeper, but he certainly can bat.

    On England's side, I really think they have to keep playing positive cricket and not turn away just because it didn't come off for them. It has been refreshing to see them at least look like a modern team this tournament.

  • popcorn on October 3, 2009, 8:44 GMT

    After this masterclass performance, need ANYBODY wonder who is the BEST ODI Side? Australia, forever. I suggest other Teams drop theirdesire to be number One, and scramble for second place. Permanent Chairman for Life is Australia.

  • jzmn on October 3, 2009, 6:30 GMT

    corbies93 makes an excellent point. Paine's proficiency with the gloves has accounted for Haddin's absence, Australias bowling stocks are far from being exhausted with the absence of Bracken, Watson has made many people forget about Marsh, and Clarke's absence in the middle order has yet to be lamented. (granted, his uncomfortable and slow scoring in the past few weeks because of injury have really put pressure on his team mates)

  • AsifRathod on October 3, 2009, 5:55 GMT

    We all knows, what a class player Ponting is. But, he raises his batting standards in big matches even more. This is the thing, which makes him better player than, likes of Tendulkars ,Jaysuriyas and Inzis.

  • mahmood_chowdhury on October 3, 2009, 5:49 GMT

    As I said earlier in many of my comments. Its The Ponting building up another invincible Aussie team alone. He is a master class. I do always put him right after Sir Don all alone.

  • Nipun on October 3, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Watson's innings was Haydenesque.....all muscle & intimidation.The Dhonis & Smiths should acknowledge that even if they rise to the no.1 spot,it'll be only fleeting-Australia is the real deal.

  • corbies93 on October 3, 2009, 3:57 GMT

    This effort is even more astonishing considering who is not playing for Australia. Alot has been said about England missing KP and Flintoff but Australia are missing Haddin, Bracken, Clarke and Marsh. This leads me to ask the question are Australia better off without these players?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • corbies93 on October 3, 2009, 3:57 GMT

    This effort is even more astonishing considering who is not playing for Australia. Alot has been said about England missing KP and Flintoff but Australia are missing Haddin, Bracken, Clarke and Marsh. This leads me to ask the question are Australia better off without these players?

  • Nipun on October 3, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Watson's innings was Haydenesque.....all muscle & intimidation.The Dhonis & Smiths should acknowledge that even if they rise to the no.1 spot,it'll be only fleeting-Australia is the real deal.

  • mahmood_chowdhury on October 3, 2009, 5:49 GMT

    As I said earlier in many of my comments. Its The Ponting building up another invincible Aussie team alone. He is a master class. I do always put him right after Sir Don all alone.

  • AsifRathod on October 3, 2009, 5:55 GMT

    We all knows, what a class player Ponting is. But, he raises his batting standards in big matches even more. This is the thing, which makes him better player than, likes of Tendulkars ,Jaysuriyas and Inzis.

  • jzmn on October 3, 2009, 6:30 GMT

    corbies93 makes an excellent point. Paine's proficiency with the gloves has accounted for Haddin's absence, Australias bowling stocks are far from being exhausted with the absence of Bracken, Watson has made many people forget about Marsh, and Clarke's absence in the middle order has yet to be lamented. (granted, his uncomfortable and slow scoring in the past few weeks because of injury have really put pressure on his team mates)

  • popcorn on October 3, 2009, 8:44 GMT

    After this masterclass performance, need ANYBODY wonder who is the BEST ODI Side? Australia, forever. I suggest other Teams drop theirdesire to be number One, and scramble for second place. Permanent Chairman for Life is Australia.

  • Winsome on October 3, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    jzmn, it isn't just his slow scoring in the past few weeks. Clarke's strike rate is below 70 for the past year and overall strike rate has been dropping game on game for practically 2 years now. He needs big hitters around him, which I am not sure we have apart from Hussey.

    Watson has opened successfully a long time before Marsh did it, though I think Marsh is still going to be a long term prospect for us. Watson can fit in anywhere in short forms of the game.

    Paine has done far better than anyone expected, especially with the gloves. You can bet your mortgage that Haddin would have dropped one of the difficult chances yesterday, possibly more than one. Very sloppy keeper, but he certainly can bat.

    On England's side, I really think they have to keep playing positive cricket and not turn away just because it didn't come off for them. It has been refreshing to see them at least look like a modern team this tournament.

  • SureshAmsterdam on October 3, 2009, 8:47 GMT

    There should be no doubt at all in anyone's minds that Ponting is the master when it comes to stepping up in big events, in addition to being one of the greats. In this respect he is more dependable than than his contemporaries including Tendulkar, Lara, Inzi, Jayawardene & Jayasuriya. The Aussie team still depends greatly on Brett Lee to bowl the opposition out for sub-par scores, now in tandem with Siddle, who is a great up and coming talent. Without Brett Lee, I'm not sure that Siddle, Mitchell Johnson (who's a fantastic talent, but still inconsistent), Watson, Hopes & Hauritz would be able to keep SA, India, Sri Lanka and Pak bastmen in check. This of course would make the task much more difficult for Aussie batsmen. So right now I'd say a fit, fast & furious Brett Lee working with the others is making things a lot easier for Aussie batsmen. It remains to be seen if this will continue if he's unfit or when he retires.

  • SureshAmsterdam on October 3, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    Sorry to disagree with you, popcorn, Nipun - but chasing a sub-par score - even though Ponting & Watson did so with class & style - on a batting surface against a decent attack does NOT make this Aussie side the equal of their earlier version when Warne, Gilly, McGrath and Haydos were around. Those days are gone forever. I'd say that on any given day, depending on the batting track and who wins the toss, whether its a day-night game etc. etc. etc. its a toss-up between Australia, SA, India, and even SA and Pakistan - if they turn up. Not at all a bad thing, makes for a much more interesting game!

  • Nata on October 3, 2009, 9:28 GMT

    with due respect to Ponting's brilliant innings, I feel it is far too early to call them the best team. One can tell so, only if they comfortably forget how they struggled against pak last match. One or two decisions can swing the game and Raina really got a tough one against Pak, else India would have been in the picture till now. With the hope of having the India A team and not the B team [ especially the bowling dept] that played in CT fit and ready, there is a seven match series against India and for sure that would settle the score on who the best is.