England v Australia, 5th NatWest ODI, Ageas Bowl September 16, 2013

Watson leads Australia to winning finish


Australia 298 (Watson 143, Clarke 75, Stokes 5-61) beat England 249 (Bopara 62, Faulkner 3-38) by 49 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

As in the Ashes, Shane Watson saved his best until last to enable Australia to end their almost four-month stay in England with silverware as they wrapped up the NatWest series with a convincing 49-run victory. Watson's 143 provided nearly half of Australia's total and his stand of 163 with Michael Clarke, who battled through with his troublesome back, was the defining period of the match and series.

England's chase only ignited when Ravi Bopara and Jos Buttler were adding 92 in 13 overs; perhaps it was the autumnal chill which descended and left spectators huddle up in jacks that prevented an early spark. But by then it was a monumental task, even for Buttler's nerves of steel. Kevin Pietersen was run out in the third over and any remnants of a chance, however slim, disappeared when Eoin Morgan departed straight after the halfway mark of the innings.

Australia were clearly the better team over the three-and-a-bit ODIs that the weather allowed and this trophy, although low down in the priority list when they arrived in late May, will be some solace for Darren Lehmann - who wasn't even in charge when the Champions Trophy squad landed at Heathrow. Australia really have been here that long.

That is not to say there are no benefits England can take, and in this match it was the bowling of Ben Stokes and debutant Chris Jordan - who replaced the injured Steven Finn - as they shared eight wickets. Stokes finished with 5 for 61 having struck early in the innings and then during Australia's collapse of 7 for 87. Both young pace bowlers were sharp, hitting 90mph, and held their nerve against flashing blades.

As in Cardiff, Australia struggled at the top and tail of their innings but this time the central plank provided by Watson and Clarke was so dominant it made a crucial difference. It appeared a rain break in the 10th over might derail their innings when, on resumption, Stokes struck twice in consecutive balls to leave Australia 48 for 3. But England's inexperienced attack could not keep up the pressure as Clarke and Watson feasted on some wayward bowling during their rapid partnership.

Watson reached his eighth one-day hundred from 87 balls in a muscular display of hitting and then latched on to Joe Root's sixth over, which cost 28, the most expensive by an England bowler in ODIs, including three massive leg-side sixes. He was threatening his best score against England - an unbeaten 161 at the MCG in 2011 - but edged behind to give Stokes his fourth wicket.

Stokes claimed his fifth two balls later when Mitchell Johnson lobbed back a return catch and along with Jordan and Boyd Rankin, the latter superbly economical on another good batting pitch, provided a positive glimpse at some of England's depth. Jordan had managed to open his wicket tally in his second over - after being driven twice by Aaron Finch in his first - when he beat Phillip Hughes for pace and the left-hander top-edged to midwicket.

Jordan returned in the batting Powerplay, taken early by Clarke in the 29th over, with Australia at the peak of their scoring rate and removed the Australia captain when he clubbed to mid-off for 74 five balls after Rankin had dropped him in the same position. Clarke had not been convincing at the start of his innings, as England tested out his back with the expected short-pitched attack, but was given early scoring opportunities to get his innings underway and was rarely under a run-a-ball. His straight drive for six off Stokes stood out.

The problem for England was that the combined 10 overs of spin from Root and James Tredwell went for 96; Watson immediately aimed Tredwell over midwicket in a four-over spell that proved his only one of the day. If other sides have been taking notes, Tredwell will need to "batten down the hatches", as he put it the other day, in future series.

Overs 21-30 of Australia's brought 93 runs - a scoring rate considered impressive for the final 10 of an innings - and at 202 for 3 after 30 overs anything seemed possible, but a combination of some laziness from them and resilience from England gave the final 20 overs a very different outcome, to the extent that Australia did not use up their final five deliveries.

Australia rued their late collapse in Cardiff, but it never had the feel of a repeat here. The Pietersen-Michael Carberry opening partnership has not hit it off in this series and for the second time it ended through a breakdown in communication. Pietersen was beaten but Matthew Wade could not take the ball cleanly and it bobbled to short fine-leg. Carberry started to make his way up the pitch, but only made a positive call a few seconds later, by when there was not enough time for Pietersen to make his ground.

Carberry's hometown innings - and perhaps, even, his last for England - was ended by the DRS after Rob Bailey had turned down an appeal from James Faulkner. Joe Root, who laboured for his 21, dragged on against the quick and thrifty Johnson when playing without footwork and most shambolically Luke Wright - a last-minute replacement for Jonathan Trott, who suffered a back spasm - was run out when he did not even attempt to ground his bat going for a sharp single.

Adam Voges gained an lbw decision against Bopara with his first ball, only for DRS to show it was sliding past leg stump, but he claimed the key wicket of Morgan when the England captain was drawn out of his crease and Wade did not add to his list of errors.

For a while, as Buttler and Bopara started picking off boundaries at will, a grandstand finish was not out of the question until Faulkner, from round the wicket, cleaned up Buttler. Seven balls later Bopara rifled a catch to cover off Johnson's first ball back to give him his 200th ODI wicket. That was that, barring the finishing touches, but for anyone who is feeling misty-eyed at the end of England-Australia contests, don't worry: it all starts again in 66 days.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scott on September 20, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    you like, as I agree, we were never going to win that test. In the 3rd, we completely dominated the test match and had you pinned against the ropes and reeling when the weather saved you! But we didn't compete? Or are you only mentioning the tests that back up your obscure comparison? In the 4th test we rolled you again for 238 and Eng did v well to claw it back as anything other than losing our last 5-6 wickets for 70 runs would've won us that match. Even then you were 3-50, effectively 3-10 in your second! And again, us chasing 299 at 100-0, tell me you weren't thinking that test was in trouble. Again, a special collapse that only Aus can produce aided by Broad's magic spell, costing us dearly. Think you'll find the 2 series we're comparing here are markedly different in terms of competition! The record book shows what it does as Aus were unable to capitalise from positions of strength. This was not the case in the Eng v SA series...

  • John on September 19, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    @ScottStevo on (September 19, 2013, 13:30 GMT) Have I once said SA were struggling in the series? All I've been saying is that bar the 1st test where we were annihilated we were competitive with SA. Surely taking 1st inns leads (albeit marginally) suggests this. Even if we were marginally behind on 1st inns it would suggest we were competitive - no? I could say exactly the same about England/Australia (which the original poster said about SA/Eng) and say Aus were never going to win the 1st,2nd or 4th test and the record book shows 3-0 but somehow , judging by your previous comms on the series the record book doesn't sit so well on this series?

    PS SA were 163-6 in their 1st inns - I'd say Eng were on top at that particular stage or would it only work if SA had Eng 163-6?

  • Scott on September 19, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    @JG2704, marginal 1st innings leads and SA struggling at times (hardly) - clutching at straws a little here! Personally, I don't recall at one stage during the business end of any of the test matches thinking, England are in commanding position here; or even, England are a good chance. It was as straight forward an away series win vs the next best team as you're likely to see! Not entirely sure why we're arguing over a series that's long gone, or why we're bothering comparing the two completely different series played against SA...Perceive it however you wish, the record book does enough for me.

  • John on September 19, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    @ScottStevo -notice you skipped over the parts where I stated that Eng were marginally ahead on both 1st inns and that SA were also struggling at times. The point is re the drawn test - with 115 required and 6 wickets remaining - unless there was a huge collapse SA weren't smashing us and 51 runs isn't a smashing either. Re stereotyping Eng fans - singing when they're winning - personally I don't sing when we're winning and I try not to whinge about anything other than selection issues/poor tactics etc when Eng lose.Regulars will prob agree that I am one of Eng's biggest self critics Obviously I can't speak for others. As for Aus fans (as a whole) - I disagree with Milehouse79. There are genuine Aus fans who always give credit where it's due and give self criticism where it is deserved also.Guys like Meety,ZenB,ChrisP,Praspunter etc etc and then there are others who have to blame everything bar on field performances for defeats and keep going on about yesteryears domination

  • Scott on September 19, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    @Milhouse79, as is the steroetype of the English - sing when you're winning! By far and away the worst winners - ever wondered why it is that nobody wants England to win in any sports? Does the phrase 'Ashes Hero' ring a bell, mate? Or legends of '66? Also, I didn't bring up that argument, just clearing it up for some who seem to have very distorted recollections of what was a hugely one-sided series. @JG2704, hilarious! Swann and Prior scroing freely basically means having a swipe and getting away with it as Swann in particular is only good for around that much with the bat. But, it's nice to see how 'balanced' your version of events go, fella! You were 6-140 odd chasing 340! Fair enough, you had a go, but seriously, from that point, there was only ever one likely winner - and they won! In the draw, England were never in with a chance to win - and it was more likely that you'd get bowled out trying to score that many in such little time than scoring them...

  • James on September 19, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    @Mitty2, The whole "Bell's coming of age" thing is very amusing. I would understand it if he had played 20-30 tests, but for a 31 year old man who is a veteran of nearly 100 tests, it's ridiculous. He has played more tests than many a' great player yet people think he has just COME OF AGE! Jees, you wonder well, how did he play that many tests in the first place if this is his coming of age....

  • Eden on September 19, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    Well done Watto fantastic short form player but not a test player. Wade can't keep, Lyon should have at least 10 more wickets but Wade can't keep. People are harsh on Voges and hughes. Voges had a poor series but is a good player with good stas and Hughes 2 tests nearly helped us win the first test with 80 odd not out and then gets 1 ODI and people bag him. It must be hard to perform when you get a few games here and a few games there. I hope they don't pick Johnson for the ashes cause he like Watson is great at short form cricket but inconsistent at test.

  • John on September 18, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    @ScottStevo - Ah , one of the brigade .51 runs is not a smashing. The match which you claim Eng were never in was one where they had SA 163-6 in the 1st inns where they eventually scored 309. The match which in the 2nd inns they had SA 282-7 where they eventually scored 351 and where Swann and Prior were scoring freely before the partnership was broken by a run out with Eng 63 behind with 3 wickets in hand. In the drawn match - again Eng had a 1st inns lead and I make it were 112 (having had to chase at a faster rate than usual) behind with 6 wickets remaining. I certainly wouldn't say England would have won but I wouldn't say SA were nailed on to win from there either. But your balanced post is appreciated as always

  • John on September 18, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    @ Mitty2 on (September 18, 2013, 11:02 GMT) Sterotyping and singling out are the exact opposites of each other. GG is spot on with what he says. My point re Bell is that he was in top form and sometimes when a batsman is in top form they are hard to deal with , no matter how well your plans are executed. Yes Aus bowlers did a great job but do you reckon Cook was in the same form that he was in during the Indian tour?

  • Colin on September 18, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    @ ScottStevo and the rest. You guys amaze me! Constantly whinging about umpires, DRS and everything else! I thought that 'S.A beat you worse than they beat us' argument was dead coming off a 3-0 loss but hey! You have to cling on to something don't you? I suppose you guys are going to dredge up the Indian pitches for the 400th time as well. Well played to Aus for winning this ODI series by the way, it was quite an achievement at the end of an arduous tour but your supporters are easily the worst in the world. One eyed, delusional, whining and incapable of accepting defeat. The stereotype is true: worst winners and worst losers in the world...