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September 14, 2013
England's new-look one-day side, without five first-choice players, has come in for some harsh dissection in recent weeks. Does it devalue the game? Is the balance right? Are the selections consistent, or verging on stubborn? After victory in Cardiff to level the series, albeit just a single win in the bigger picture, Eoin Morgan was fully justified in his satisfaction at not just the win but the way it came about.
The insistence on a deep batting order enabled England to overcome the shock of a third-over hat-trick and another middle-order wobble to win by three wickets, through a crucial stand by their Nos. 7 and 8 batsmen. Another specialist bowler could well have enabled them to keep Australia to fewer than 227, but the chase will allow Morgan and Ashley Giles, England's coach, to feel some vindication.
"It's hugely satisfying, obviously, our backs were against the wall," Morgan said. "The guys can take a lot of confidence from this game, particularly the young guys coming through."
While the performances of Stokes (with bat and ball), Boyd Rankin and Michael Carberry will help their fledgling England careers, it was no surprise to see Jos Buttler as the central figure in the closing overs. His reputation precedes him on the county circuit when it comes to such skilful finishes and now he is bringing that into the international arena, having been given a run as England's limited-overs wicketkeeper by Giles.
"We were always confident, as long as we were there at the end and took the game deep," Buttler said. "The run rate wasn't too out of hand, and I knew if I was there at the end we wouldn't be very far away. I've played enough cricket now to know when it's getting out of hand. It's just 'pick your bowlers, pick your moments' and hope it comes off in your favour."
Buttler and Stokes, like every young England player these days, have come through the Lions set-up and this stand was another example of the value of that system, as they were familiar with each other - although Buttler acknowledged it wasn't perfect.
"We could have improved on our calling," he said. "We had a few near run-outs. But I think we were quite calm. I've played quite a bit of cricket with Ben, growing up."
Buttler, however, did have his heart in his mouth when he called for a review having been given lbw to Shane Watson on 8. He was not convinced the system would save him, but after chatting to Ravi Bopara decided it was worth a chance, with the match so finely balanced. "I wasn't sure ... It was obviously a big moment, and luckily the review system saved me."
The DRS worked in England's favour a short while later, too, when Stokes gloved a hook shot but was given not out. Australia had wasted their review on a speculative caught-behind appeal against Morgan.
Michael Clarke just shrugged his shoulders - it is not the first time DRS has featured on this tour - and it was clear to him where Australia had fallen short. "We lost five for 18 at the end of our innings, so we needed to make some more runs," he said. "When you only make that many runs, you know you have to bowl the opposition out. We knew we had to take 10 wickets to win the game, and unfortunately we didn't do that."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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