Australia v England, 6th ODI, Sydney February 2, 2011

Clarke's acceleration seals thrilling win


Australia 8 for 334 (Clarke 82, Johnson 57) beat England 6 for 333 (Trott 137) by two wickets

The boos from Brisbane turned to cheers in Sydney as Michael Clarke helped Australia hunt down a record 334, their highest successful chase, by two wickets with four balls to spare at the SCG. However, it was a tense finish after Clarke was run out for 82 with seven needed but John Hastings and Brett Lee held their nerve to see the home side across the line and leave a weary England with plenty of soul-searching to do

That will be particularly true of Jonathan Trott, who was involved in key pieces of action in the closing stages after earlier scoring a career-best 137 to anchor England's highest score in Australia and their highest total in a defeat. Then, in the space of five balls, he lost and almost won the match with two contrasting pieces of fielding. Firstly he failed to hold onto Clarke's clip at short fine-leg which burst through his hands for four, but he then produced a pin-point throw to find the Australian captain short as he came back for a second.

It was the third wicket to fall quickly with Australia faltering as the target approached. David Hussey edged behind against Steven Finn to end a key stand of 90 in 11 overs with Clarke - including 50 runs from the batting Powerplay - and Steven Smith, batting with a runner after a hip injury that has ruled him out of Perth, was run out after a chaotic mix-up. However, Hastings edged the winning runs down to fine leg off Chris Woakes - although there was still confusion as the umpires didn't realise the match was over. A match of 667 runs can frazzle the mind.

Australia's top order had laid the foundations in the chase as Shane Watson butchered a 32-ball fifty and Mitchell Johnson responded to his promotion to No. 4 with a well-made 57. As is his style, Clarke took time to play himself in and his strike rate was under 100 until he'd passed his half-century and took the batting Powerplay. He then whipped James Anderson, who conceded the second most expensive figures by an England bowler, over square leg for six and followed that with another boundary as the home side made their crucial push.

Hussey also located the rope after a sluggish start when he tore into the expensive Anderson and suddenly an asking rate over eight-an-over was down at a run-a-ball although an impressive effort from Finn, in his second ODI, gave England a chance at the end. They were handicapped by an injury to Paul Collingwood, who suffered a back spasm on the last ball of the innings and wasn't able to bowl. He came onto the field briefly after 16 overs, but his back began to stiffen up again. It meant England had to find 10 overs between Trott and Kevin Pietersen which cost 72 - although Pietersen did have Johnson stumped.

Johnson had responded with his second ODI fifty which built on a blistering opening from Australia against some wayward bowling. They had nine runs after just one legal delivery and Anderson came in for some fierce punishment in his third over as Watson collected four boundaries with 19 runs coming in total to bring up the fifty inside six overs.

England needed a stroke of fortune to break through when Brad Haddin flicked a leg-stump delivery to short fine-leg where Trott, who'd recently come into the field after recovering from cramp, took a sharp catch to his right. Watson went to his fifty off 32 balls but didn't go any further when he flicked Michael Yardy to midwicket. Callum Ferguson, replacing the injured Shaun Marsh, played nicely for his 46 until being run out but the required rate was never out of hand for Australia.

Despite England's batting problems during this series, characterised by soft dismissals, this was the third time they had beaten their record total after the innings at Melbourne and Adelaide. Trott's hundred was his fourth of the trip following two in the Ashes series and his 102 at Adelaide last week. He took his time to play himself in and didn't strike a boundary until his 40th delivery, his first fifty taking 61 balls. But the next half of his ton came off 39 balls as he collected four boundaries during the batting Powerplay.

Shaun Tait thought he had him lbw on 82, but the decision was overturned on review with the ball sliding down leg, and Trott escaped again with a missed run-out opportunity on 88. He started to suffer from cramp as the hundred approached and, after passing three figures and slamming Johnson through the covers, was allowed a runner until falling in the final over. The last 87 of his runs came from 65 deliveries.

Ian Bell provided the innings with ideal acceleration as he got himself going in the batting Powerplay then showed his inventive skills by lapping Watson and John Hastings for boundaries. He and Trott added runs at nearly nine an over, the sort of dominant partnership England have struggled to produce even in their previous hefty totals.

Andrew Strauss had set a good tone with his second fifty of the series off 52 balls and looked set for three figures until he clipped Smith to midwicket. Kevin Pietersen was threatening to cut loose with two boundaries in three balls off Hastings, but his frustrating series continued when he drove the first ball of the batting Powerplay to mid-off.

The fielding restrictions again threatening to be a curse rather than a blessing, but the five overs produced 43 runs as Trott and Bell began their surge. Still, though, it didn't prove enough and another 6-1 drubbing is on the cards.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • M on February 5, 2011, 23:50 GMT

    @5wombats (and others about close 'last over' matches) - in a big run chase, it shows the class and temperament of a team that knows what is required and goes about achieving it. ... ... ... lesser teams might think to stamp their authority and win with lots of overs in the bag putting unnecessary pressure on the bats to keep up an unnecessary run rate and losing wickets and potentially the game in the process. ... ... That AUS won the games with wickets in hand and no stupid risk shots belies that these were as close as just winning with 5 balls to spare (as happened on both last over matches)

  • Andrew on February 4, 2011, 22:50 GMT

    @5wombats - under what criteria do you need players playing for Oz between the ages of 21 to 25. The M Hussey (no wind up) example is a classic case of why older players of high value. He was the most ready made entrant into Test cricket seen in decades - probably since SRT. He learned his craft it what is generally regarded by experts in the game as the best Domestic contests in the cricket world. Even back in the mid 80s - still racked by Rebel Tours, the competition was that fierce that one of the greatest competitors of all time - Imran Khan thought it was a close as you get to Test cricket. That hasn't changed & anyone of the Bowlers mentioned previously will come thru their 1st class education with flying colours. There will be NO NEED to DRAFT players internationally to do so either, (acknowledge Nesser is a Saffa for QLD). Look at the Champions League - Oz don't require imports to be competitive, but other franchises need Ozzys. The worm WILL turn matey, & VERY SOON!!!!

  • John on February 4, 2011, 22:15 GMT

    So Steve Smith, Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja are not in the 21-25 year old category? That's funny. I could've sworn they were all 21 - 23 years old. Bizarre. I didn't mention only under 19s. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are 20 and both have made their debut in ODI cricket. - Their chances at test level will come very soon. James Pattinson is 20 and will play for Aus soon. Aaron Finch recently debuted, Callum Ferguson made his debut when he was 24. - What's your opinion on Fergy by the way? Anyway. No England's batting is not "rubbish". England's batting has been reasonable, but guilty of throwing away great starts. Your top 6 batsmen are very unlikely to change for the WC, so if they're "rubbish" now, then they're going to be "rubbish" in the world cup too.

  • Martin on February 4, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    @Something_Witty; I am not asking about under19's. I want to know where the 21-25 year olds are in Australian cricket NOW. I want to know what definition of "good" is being used if they are not playing for Australia (that's the accepted benchmark). Australia has still not learned the mistakes of the Ponting years - you know - not playing youth. They have ended up with what they've got - good players (no wind up!) like the Husseys', Katich, Lee, right at the end of their careers. Then there are other very ordinary players in the 29-33 range - players who might have been ok if they they had been brought in earlier to play alongside the greats. But they weren't - so they aren't any good. You know who I think they are. Meanwhile there is virtually nobody playing for Aus in the 21-25 age range. WHY? I can't rubbish them because they are not out there playing for Australia. If they were any good they'd be playing for Australia - and they are not going to be any good until they do.

  • Martin on February 4, 2011, 17:37 GMT

    Oh! has there been more than 4 games? I'd lost interest and just guessed at the number of games played. Sorry!

  • Martin on February 4, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    @Damian Chandler; YES - Aus do have problems! Their first pick bowlers couldn't stop England piling up 330+ and we are reliably informed that Englands batting is rubbish - so how much worse is it going to be for Australia when they come up against "good" batting sides on flat Indian wickets???. Meanwhile England's first pick bowlers (Anderson excepted), Broad, Swann, Bresnan, Tremlett, Shazad are all back home resting and Collingwood didn't bowl in the last game in order to rest him too.

  • John on February 4, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    5wombats, the young Aus players are not playing at the moment because they're either too young and need a tad more experience before being thrown into the big stage, or their chance is just around the corner. (Players like Khawaja, Finch, Pattinson etc). Some of them are injured, e.g. Starc, Hazlewood. Re: the current series. Aus has comfortably won 3 out of 5 games, and chased down massive totals in the other two. Your analysis of MJ and Tait is absurd, as they are two very good exponents of reverse swing (a key in the subcontinent). Tait in particular; I doubt anyone bowls a better reverse swinging yorker these days. If you actually take the time to have a look at the youngsters in the Aussie domestic system, you might see that the prospects for Australia's next 3-5 years are actually very good. Might I ask where England placed in the under 19 world cup? I don't go rubbishing England's young prospects, because I frankly don't know enough about them. - Try doing the same with ours eh?

  • Dave on February 4, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    @5wombats "Given that most of the games have gone into the last over" - please stop embarrassing yourself. Only 2 out of 5 Australian wins went down to the last over. It seems you are the one who is not on planet Earth when you define most as something less than 50%.

  • Martin on February 4, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    @Something_Witty - the usual one-eyed stuff from you; " England have been absolute rubbish in this series and it doesn't look good for them going into the WC". Given that most of the games have gone into the last over - and given that, according to you "England have been absolute rubbish" - then by your reckoning Australia must be rubbish. I'd agree with that assessment. You are SO wrong in your assessment of Englands bowlers and SO one-eyed in your assessment of Australias bowlers (including, as it does - the fearsome MJ and Tait... on Indian surfaces....!) - that frankly it's not even worth commenting on. Meanwhile, on planet Earth - POP QUIZ; I still want to know where all these great young Aus players are, and in particular I want to know why - if they are so good - why are they not playing for Australia? Mmm... Not only does it not look good for Australia going into the WC - it doesn't look good for them going into the next 3-5 years. Aus just doesn't have great players anymore.

  • John on February 4, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    Ahh the poms and their excuses. "Injured bowler this", "missing player that", "unlucky dismissal the other". England have been absolute rubbish in this series and it doesn't look good for them going into the WC. The only bowler who will actually add something to England's bowling lineup is Swann, other than that, any bowlers coming back from injury will not make an iota of difference.

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