First semi-final

England v Australia


At Birmingham, September 21. England won by six wickets. Toss: England.

England ended a run of 14 consecutive one-day defeats against Australia, achieving victory for the first time since January 17, 1999, with style and growing confidence. The match was a personal triumph for their captain, Vaughan, who had not even made the team at the time of the last win and came into this game besieged by criticism for his defects as a one-day player. Having scored just 147 in his ten previous innings of the summer in this form of cricket, he flayed the Australian attack for 86, and added 140 with Trescothick to put England on the victory road. Strauss played the most handsome strokes of the day to provide the finishing touch. Earlier, Vaughan had bowled his very occasional off-spin to excellent effect for its full ration of ten overs, which was brave captaincy and shrewd too, since the faster bowlers were largely ineffective on this slow wicket once the ball softened. None the less, Harmison gave the Australians early notice that rumours about his speed and quality were true, and none of their batsmen was able to settle and play a big innings. In contrast, McGrath - hit for four fours in an over by Trescothick - creaked badly, leading to presumptuous speculation that he might be gone before Australia's return for the 2005 Ashes. Afterwards, both teams were keen to play down the game's long-term significance - Australia wishing to avoid alarm, and England complacency. They could not prevent the excited buzz among the crowd, such as it was. Instead of the customary full house for this fixture, only 8,700 endured a dry but bitterly cold day. Officials blamed the fact that the pairing was known less than 72 hours before the start.

Man of the Match: M. P. Vaughan. Attendance: 8,700.

© John Wisden & Co