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July 12, 2005
Michael Vaughan admitted England were well below their best as they slumped to a crushing eight-wicket defeat at The Oval, to hand Australia the NatWest Challenge. England's top order crumbled again and, despite Kevin Pietersen's 74, they were never in the game once Adam Gilchrist cut loose en route to a destructive century.
"We were under par with the bat but it nibbled about in the morning and we were about 60 short," Vaughan said. "[A score of] 280-290 was about par on that sort of wicket and against a team like Australia you're probably looking at beyond 300 to be really competitive. We were below standard, no excuses, it nibbled but we didn't bat as well as we can do. Once you don't get the total to put them under pressure you are always going to struggle, but Gilchrist came out and played fantastically."
Vaughan was adamant that the last two one-day defeats wouldn't have any long-term effect on England heading in to the Ashes series. He believed the recent matches swung so much that it was hard to draw conclusions.
"On Thursday, when we won at Headingley, everyone was saying the momentum was with England and I certainly didn't believe that either," he said. "I certainly don't believe that the momentum has swung in Australia's favour. One-day cricket is a totally different concept and the history suggests that these games don't have any impact on the five-day game.
"It's just important that over the next week or so that we hit July 21 hard and make sure that we get our games and minds in order. That's the biggest challenge of all for the summer and we've all been looking forward to it, and everyone's been talking about it, so lets move our minds to that."
However, he has yet to be convinced by the new rule changes, despite Vikram Solanki's half-century when he came in as a Supersub in place of Simon Jones. "The Powerplays work well, I'm a fan of them, but I'm a bit sceptical of the substitutions," he said. "You get the advantage of winning the toss and then you have an extra batter to chase down the runs."
Ricky Ponting was understandably elated by Australia's performance, especially after the tough start they have experienced to the tour. "That was very satisfying," he said, "It's the result of a lot of hard work, a lot of talking about our games, where we were going wrong and the finer aspects of things. We did that before the Lord's game, we had a really good meeting and a really good training session and we've managed to bring all of that into these two games.
"They were a couple of pretty comprehensive wins for us. Today was as close as it gets to perfect one-day cricket for us. The way we restricted them and then to peel the runs of with 16 overs left is a comprehensive win."
Like Vaughan, Ponting said he wouldn't look too much into these results, but he clearly thought that the margin of victories gave his side an advantage. "I said before this series that I don't read too much into the one-day game, but having said that a couple of weeks ago it didn't look that bright for us," he said. "But the pleasing thing for me and the team is how the players have really lifted in the big games when it has really mattered for us. I couldn't be happier with what we've done in last couple of games after a very disappointing game at Headingley."
Adam Gilchrist, who had not scored an ODI hundred since January 2004, was just happy to see Australia home with his 121 from 101 balls. "It was very special for a lot a reasons, most importantly getting the job done for the team," he said. "I haven't often been there at the end of a run chase, haven't often been there after 15 overs, so to be there at the end was uncharted waters. More importantly, the result showed great character."
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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