Australia v England, 3rd T20, Sydney February 2, 2014

Tattooed trickster bears England anger

Vithushan Ehantharajah at Stadium Australia
After 101 days, across eight cities, in the 18th match at the ninth and final venue, England had Jade Dernbach to direct their frothing anger upon

After 101 days, across eight cities, in the 18th match at the ninth and final venue, England had a tattooed trickster to direct their frothing anger upon. If you are an England fan, just be glad it is over.

There was a moment in this game where Jade Dernbach had bowled well. Saved till the 10th over, his two overs on the bounce featured the odd variation here and there. He refrained from bowling a different one every ball as he took a five over break having conceded just 12 runs.

His third over went for a more expensive 11, but seven of those runs came after he should have had a wicket. An onrushing Ravi Bopara slowed, continued, then slowed again and, finally, dived for a catch off Matthew Wade which touched the sky but barely left the ring, after Dernbach dolled up a slower-ball. A smart piece of bowling that deserved more.

Then it happened.

You could sense something in the Stadium Australia air, and it wasn't the hum of imminent success. There was no echo of starter's shot before a suited-up Cathy Freeman completed a lap of this very stadium to claim 400m gold in the 2000 Olympics. Nor was there the call from Jonny Wilkinson, alerting Matt Dawson of his whereabouts for a right-footed kick at goal during extra time of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

This was more like the belch that warns you that you are on the cusp of redecorating a pavement with the contents of your guts. George Bailey took guard, looking to greedily improve Australia's 6 for 169. Dernbach, full of pep and fresh from spraying Cameron White with invective, would bowl the last over. It had the feel of Good versus Evil - and only one of the two protagonists was fresh-armed and chiselled like a Disney prince.

It is too brutal to talk through the next six balls. If this was a film, it would have switched temporarily to black and white, such was the battery. "Four-Six-Six-Four-Four-Two" was how it read; 26 runs to take Australia to 195.

Bailey's exploits were subject to yet another Cricket Australia picture tweet - a gloating look at the day's play which, while a smart take on social media, has only served to plumb the "Times New Roman" font to "Comic Sans" depths of naffness. The day "Cambria Math" is subject to similar treatment will be a very dark one indeed.

As for Dernbach, his last over drubbing, which took his tally for the series to 11 overs, 1 for 141, had him trending on Twitter in the UK. If he has any sense, he'll avoid checking his mentions for the time being. Maybe just shut it down entirely. He was also left the ignominy of being the last man to go - run out, lost halfway down the track, like a nun in an orgy.

Nearly 50,000 were on hand to witness this 12th Australia win. If this tour were 101 days more, the crowds would still roll in. This isn't a country that gets bored with winning, especially when it is England that are doing the losing.

The limited-overs leg has been the victory parade many hoped it wouldn't. Weary English cricketers were dragged to every corner of this vast country like Victorian truants. On display in stocks, they took pails of water, rotten fruit and mud pies in the face. In a matter of hours they return home, hoping none of it stuck. How could it not?

In a boxing match, a trainer throws in the towel. In tennis, a feigned recurrence of a chronic injury also allows respite with minimal loss of dignity or respect. Somehow, by staying the course, England's cricketers seem to have been robbed of both.

Channel Nine, a hub of shameless bias and flappy-lipped nonsense masquerading as punditry, has given the press box an unwelcome soundtrack. They have enjoyed Australia's success more than anyone. Michael Slater's cackled laugh will haunt many a dream from now until the sweet release of death.

One man who has been here from the start but has worn it better than most is Stuart Broad. Today he bowled well, taking the wickets of Glenn Maxwell, Brad Hodge and Dan Christian. As the form bowler, should he have saved himself for the death? Perhaps. The manner of England's defeat - their joint second-worst featuring their lowest T20 total against Australia - saves him the trouble of addressing that valid query.

It's hard to see Broad first-hand and not be impressed by him. Prior to the news of Andy Flower stepping down as England team director, Broad was engaging and humorous, despite coming off the back of his third series defeat in a month.

His arrival to the crease at 98 for 8 saw him greeted by a cacophony of boos for one last time. They will miss him now that he is gone and, who knows, he might even miss them a little bit. It has been that sort of tour.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 4, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    Under wasim's captaincy in late 90s, Pakistan was playing against Australia (probably in Hobart). Justin Langer nicked an edge to the wicketkeeper and was judged not out. Umpire made a mistake there. Even Justin Langer admitted after a decade that he nicked the ball. It was a critical moment of the match and Pakistan was favourite for levelling the series 1-1. From thereon, Langer played an excellent innings and won for Australia. Pakistan lost the match, lost the momentum and lost the series. So the theory 'if you edge the ball, you should walk irrespective of the decision', also applies on Australians. I don't agree with this. Austalian crowds, commentators, Lehman, have been very harsh on Broad.

  • Stephen on February 3, 2014, 21:52 GMT

    Great article. Channel 9 commentary is a joke. Mindless dribblings and overstatements in a sea of cross-promotions. I mute the tv and have Grandstand on these days. The delay drives my mates mad but at least they call every ball and can tell it straight, especially when someone is under performing. They talk EVERYONE up on Channel 9 and it makes them sound clueless. With no Greig, Lawry or Benaud what's the point?

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    Just done a bit of research on Jade D. First 8 T20 internationals, he was excellent. Overall analysis of 28.4-0-173-11. An average of just under 16, and an economy rate of 6.03. Unfortunately, things went downhill from then. Next 20 T20I: 68.2-0-644-23. An average of 28, and an economy rate of 9.42. Wickets becoming (slightly) less frequent, but mostly going from giving up 24 runs in 4 overs to 38.

  • Nicholas on February 3, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    In the shorter formats, on paper a team is only as great as the sum of it's parts. Unlike tests where one or two players can make all the difference and swing many games, in the shorter formats you just don't have that luxury of time and you'd expect for most games it will be crucial that every player contributes. It's therefore imperative that selectors choose a strong team of 11 players that are in good form. Hanging onto out-of-sorts players, hoping and praying that they'll rediscover past (long past in some cases!) form/glory against strong opposition is always going to raise a lot of eyebrows. On saying that, there have been so many short games won virtually single-handedly. It's such a funny old game and really anything can happen in these shorter formats. I guess my conclusion is we shouldn't really point the fingers at individual players (like Dernbach), and instead just accept that the England team as a whole played badly. Career economy rates for Aus. bowlers ain't better.

  • Robert on February 3, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    It's hard to understand why Dernbach was in the side to start with, but to use him as a "death bowler" is unfair on him as well as England as he appears not know how to rein in his anger/temper when under the cosh. He chirps constantly with the opposition rather than concentrating on performance. He has conceded more than 800 runs for 582 balls in international t20 and more than 2300 runs fir 1700 balls in all t20's - expensive at around 8.5 per over. Stuart Broad averages nearer 7 per over and class acts like Steyn nearer 6. Simply he is not good enough at present and will help lose more matches than win them.

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2014, 12:40 GMT

    Dernbach's figures in this series (1-141 off 11 overs) are the equivalent of going for 51 off 4 overs, and you won't win many T20 games with those figures. I think international batsmen have worked him out now, and it's time to go (his series by series bowling analysis suggests this, with ever increasing economy rates). Started off around 6 (good for T20) but since gone out to 9-12.

  • Patrick on February 3, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    I agree with most posters re the walking issue. If an umpire incorrectly gives you out you're not allowed to stand there and not walk, so why should you be expected to walk if an umpire gives you not out incorrectly? Broad is one of the only English cricketers this tour that can leave with some dignity. Superstar.

  • shahid on February 3, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    If Dernbach has conceded zero runs in the final over England would still have lost by 58 runs , a huge margin in T20 so he should not be made a scapegaot for this defeat.

  • Patrick on February 3, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    @Vithushan Ehantharajah, I love your writing, but as a hardcore Aussie supporter I love the commentary Slater, Warne, Taylor etc. (Healy I could go without). I can imagine how annoying it would be as an opposing team's fan though lol. Great article and fantastic to see you responding directly to fans!

  • shahid on February 3, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    As a neutral I believe Broad deserved all the reception he got in Australia. It is is difficult to forgive someone not walking after being clearly out and profiting from it ( Australia lost a test match as a direct result of him not walking after the clearest of all edges). Also the whole English media was behind Broad for what he did and now you should be able to absorb all the boos and crticism, fair and sqaure.