Australia v England, 1st T20, Adelaide January 12, 2011

Nerveless Woakes seals record win


England 9 for 158 (Morgan 43, Watson 4-15) beat Australia 7 for 157 (Watson 59, Yardy 2-28) by one wicket

Chris Woakes showed nerves of steel on his international debut to seal England a thrilling one-wicket victory at Adelaide and a world-record eighth Twenty20 win on the trot. Woakes finished unbeaten on 19 from 15 balls as he struck the final ball over midwicket having lost Graeme Swann at the start of the last over with four needed.

Ajmal Shahzad faced two dot balls before scrambling to the non-striker's end then Woakes scythed Shane Watson, who produced an outstanding all-round display with 59 and four wickets, through backward point to level the scores and ensure, at worst, England couldn't lose. They really shouldn't have pushed it so close having always been in control of the asking rate, but it's a credit to their belief that they could still pull through for victory despite a late clatter of wickets.

Watson will feel the defeat particularly acutely having almost pulled the match back for Australia. Eoin Morgan, in his first major innings since September, had eased 43 off 33 balls when he drove to cover and Michael Yardy fell first ball as he failed to get his bat out of the line of a short ball. But Woakes, a replacement for Stuart Broad in the England squad, showed why he was sent in ahead of Swann when he pulled Shaun Tait for a mighty six and was there to see his side home.

Australia were still some way short of the standards they set themselves having lost momentum with the bat after a fine start, the combined eight overs of Tait and Brett Lee went for 81, and their fielding display included a number of errors. They should have struck first ball of the innings but Steve O'Keefe dropped a regulation chance at square leg as Ian Bell went to pull Tait. Bell responded with three boundaries, including an effortless back-foot drive which oozed the class he has shown all tour.

England clearly weren't going to hold back in the first six overs. It was thrilling cricket to watch as the sides traded boundaries and wickets. Steven Davies drove his second ball to cover to give Brett Lee a wicket on his international return then Bell was given a second life, again off Tait, when David Warner dropped a tough chance at backward point.

Bell, playing his first Twenty20 international since 2008, unleashed an uppercut over third man of which Virender Sehwag would have been proud and Kevin Pietersen didn't want to be left behind as he joined in the boundary hunt. Australia continued to lapse in the field as O'Keefe let one through his legs at deep square-leg with England scoring at more than 10-an-over.

The batsmen didn't want to rein themselves in, however, even though the asking-rate was plummeting, and Bell drove Mitchell Johnson's third ball to cover. O'Keefe, meanwhile, must have feared how his evening would develop when Pietersen hit his first two balls for four and six but the left-arm spinner struck back when Pietersen failed to clear a leaping David Hussey at mid-off. It was a needless shot in terms of the run-rate, but England's tactic - which has reaped rich rewards - has been to go hard regardless in the first six overs.

The situation was made for steady accumulation and for a period Morgan and Paul Collingwood calmly ticked off the runs. It was hard to tell which batsman had barely played an innings since the end of the English season. Morgan pulled Lee for six then placed him perfectly over mid-off, but kept losing partners when Collingwood top-edged a sweep and Luke Wright walked across his stumps. And for once, Morgan couldn't finish the game himself.

Australia had threatened a far greater total than 157 when Watson was cutting loose to take Swann's first over for 26 on the way to a 27-ball half-century. He added 83 for the first wicket with Warner, but when the pair were separated the innings struggled to regain momentum and Australia failed to double their score.

Watson struck one boundary off Bresnan so hard that his bat broke, but the real damage came against the spinners. Yardy's opening over cost nine before Watson took Swann's first three deliveries over midwicket for increasingly large sixes and he added another boundary to reach fifty. Yardy, though, is a canny operator and fired one past Watson's attempted cut to give England a much-needed boost and he later had Warner taken at deep midwicket.

Despite Watson's departure Swann was whipped out of the attack but when he returned he produced a tight three overs which only went for 14. Hussey struggled to find his usual striking range, and though he eventually pulled Bresnan over midwicket for six. he then missed a perfect yorker next ball. England's bowlers were superb in the closing overs and the final result once again showed how the smallest of margins can make the difference in Twenty20 cricket.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    As a Brit I'm glad for England that they got the record for T20 wins, but this brings up a niggle that I've had for a long time regarding limited-over cricket - the fact that it's only runs that count. Which was the better team in Adelaide? Australia, because they scored 157 with the loss of 4 wickets, while England managed 158 with the loss of 9 wickets. But England won. Wouldn't it be fairer for limited overs cricket to be won on a combination of runs scored and wickets lost? Something as simple as average per wicket: then Australia would have won with an average of 39.25 per wicket against England's 17.5. Surely this is a better reflection of the teams' qualities on the day, and it would give more reward to bowlers to aim to take wickets. OK, some of the immediate excitement of the final over might be lost, but it would be simple to have the scoreboard show the running average per wicket.

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    Congrats to England on the win, it was a very entertaining match to watch. I feel Lee's second last over though lost it for Australia, his bowling just was not tight enough. Watson did particularly well under pressure to reign it back in. But Woakes was outstanding for such a young man.

  • Martin on January 13, 2011, 19:22 GMT

    @Marcio; "Check Please". Waiter; "Certainly sir - what kind? Reality"? @landl47 - don't worry - I don't know what he's talking about either. But it's FUN isn't it!

  • Selvakumaran on January 13, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    Hi, Iam happy about England winning, anyone notice that while Brett Lee bowling in the last over, he blocked deliberately Swan running and hitting by leg and pulling again, there is no sportive approach at all. If somebody there in Lee's place, they would have complained, there only Aussies are staying, still.

  • keith on January 13, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    Eng should have had the game wrapped up after that explosive start, but Aussies hung in there and Eng looked to have thrown it away. Woakes held nerve admirably on his debut. Watson can count himself unlucky to be on the losing side (was it me or did he seemed to have more intensity here, even though this is supposed 'fun cricket'?). Good game though. (As for Runsters comments, Scgboy is right. And great teams make their own luck - apart from their undoubted ability they also had the ability/desire to claw a game back when things weren't going well. I watched games that they looked to have lost but give them a sniff, and they were back in it. And after time that developed into an aura of almost invincibility. I'm an Eng supporter, but those Aussies teams were great and its churlish to say otherwise).

  • Lalith on January 13, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    Can you believe Poms made a world record? Aussies can make a world record too. How many T20 matches lost in a row by a country. Aussie lost 5 now. (most recent first) Australia LLLLL England WWWWW

  • Aaron on January 13, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    We lost because Tait and Lee bowled too many boundary balls. 11 fours and 3 sixes came of their combined bowling. Can't afford to play both of them unless the pitch is lightning fast. Warner's 14 dot balls at the top of the order when it was easiest to score didn't help either.

  • John on January 13, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    @ftb93, so one long overdue pull shot to a half-tracker which cleared the tiny square boundaries at Adelaide Oval, makes up for the 3 or 4 overs of meandering along at less than a run-a-ball? It shouldn't take you 20 deliveries to be able to play the pull shot. Watto, Warner, White, Paine, Smith and others (heck even Clarke), can play the pull shot successfully as soon as they come in. If you can't come out and blast balls (regardless of length/line), from the first ball, then you have no place in T-20 cricket. I hate to say it, but David Hussey really needs to do something about it. It's quite obvious that he hates short-pitched bowling, and if he can't score quickly off short balls, bowlers will never do anything else but bowl back of a length and short. Basically, he's been found out, and needs to change his game or he will never be able to justify his place.

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Does anyone else wonder why the two best attacking w/k batsmen in the world cannot get into thier respective ODI sides? It seems bizarre to me that after the series they have both had that they are not deemed good enough for the joke cricket. There is no point changing the side for the sake of change is there? I am not saying that either Payne or Davies are bad players but it seems stupid. Neither Haddin or Prior are about to retire.

  • David on January 13, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    @ scgboy - spot on... where have rrunster and all his mates been hiding for the last 15 years? in someones back door - thats where.

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