Tournament Review

The NatWest Series 2005

Julian Guyer

1= England and Australia. 3. Bangladesh

How many matches does it take to determine which are the two best teams out of England, Australia and Bangladesh? The answer: more than people thought. The last NatWest Series before England abandoned the triangular format was much derided in advance for its lopsided line-up.

But the tournament produced a sensational finish - a tied final that provided a tasty appetiser to the outstanding Ashes series that was to follow - and an even more sensational start: world champions Australia lost to Bangladesh in their opening match, the biggest upset in one-day international history. The result provoked delight in Bangladesh, dismay in Australia and hilarity in England, and will be remembered long after the other nine games are forgotten. Even so, that gem of an upset could not obscure the fact that this was an isosceles, not an equilateral triangle. After that lone blip, England and Australia inflicted crushing defeats on Bangladesh, and punched each other to a standstill and a dead-heat in the finish.

A year after failing to make the final in the previous triangular, England maintained the impetus of their 100-run Twenty20 win over Australia with some confident displays. Although both captains repeatedly insisted the matches would have no bearing on the subsequent Tests, every incident was examined minutely for its potential Ashes significance. Though there was a sense that Australia might have got the dust out of their system before the real business began, England's performances were seen as encouraging.

Steve Harmison, the leading wicket-taker with 15, repeatedly troubled Australia's top order with his pace and bounce. Andrew Flintoff, though enduring a disappointing time with the bat, took 12 wickets, while Kevin Pietersen advanced his Test claims with an innings as unorthodox as it was defiant in England's three-wicket win over Australia at Bristol. Geraint Jones moved back down the order from opener to No. 7, where he played the key innings in the final. Andrew Strauss was the leading scorer, with 378.

But Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee frequently made inroads into the top order, most notably in the final, when they had England reeling at 33 for five. It was to their credit that England were resilient enough to recover; it was worrying that they kept having to do so.

It said much for the strength of Australian cricket that, of their three most consistent performers, Lee had not played a Test since January 2004 and neither Andrew Symonds, named man of the series despite being dropped for the first two games after a night on the town, nor Mike Hussey, who frequently repaired early damage to the top order, was in the Ashes squad. For thrilling batting, though, there was no one to touch Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful, who followed up a hundred in the win over Australia with fifties in his next two games.

Match reports for

1st Match: England v Bangladesh at The Oval, Jun 16, 2005
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2nd Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Cardiff, Jun 18, 2005
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3rd Match: England v Australia at Bristol, Jun 19, 2005
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4th Match: England v Bangladesh at Nottingham, Jun 21, 2005
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5th Match: England v Australia at Chester-le-Street, Jun 23, 2005
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6th Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Manchester, Jun 25, 2005
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7th Match: England v Bangladesh at Leeds, Jun 26, 2005
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8th Match: England v Australia at Birmingham, Jun 28, 2005
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9th Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Canterbury, Jun 30, 2005
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Final: England v Australia at Lord's, Jul 2, 2005
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Match reports for

PCA Masters XI v Australians at Arundel, Jun 9, 2005
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Leicestershire v Australians at Leicester, Jun 11, 2005
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Only T20I: England v Australia at Southampton, Jun 13, 2005
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Somerset v Australians at Taunton, Jun 15, 2005
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2nd Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Cardiff, Jun 18, 2005
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3rd Match: England v Australia at Bristol, Jun 19, 2005
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5th Match: England v Australia at Chester-le-Street, Jun 23, 2005
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6th Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Manchester, Jun 25, 2005
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8th Match: England v Australia at Birmingham, Jun 28, 2005
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9th Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Canterbury, Jun 30, 2005
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Final: England v Australia at Lord's, Jul 2, 2005
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1st Match: England v Australia at Leeds, Jul 7, 2005
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2nd Match: England v Australia at Lord's, Jul 10, 2005
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3rd Match: England v Australia at The Oval, Jul 12, 2005
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Leicestershire v Australians at Leicester, Jul 15-17, 2005
Scorecard

1st Test: England v Australia at Lord's, Jul 21-24, 2005
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Worcestershire v Australians at Worcester, Jul 30-Aug 1, 2005
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2nd Test: England v Australia at Birmingham, Aug 4-7, 2005
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3rd Test: England v Australia at Manchester, Aug 11-15, 2005
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Scotland v Australians at Edinburgh, Aug 18, 2005
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Northamptonshire v Australians at Northampton, Aug 20-21, 2005
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4th Test: England v Australia at Nottingham, Aug 25-28, 2005
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Essex v Australians at Chelmsford, Sep 3-4, 2005
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5th Test: England v Australia at The Oval, Sep 8-12, 2005
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Match reports for

British Universities v Bangladeshis at Cambridge, May 10-12, 2005
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Sussex v Bangladeshis at Hove, May 15-17, 2005
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Northamptonshire v Bangladeshis at Northampton, May 20-22, 2005
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1st Test: England v Bangladesh at Lord's, May 26-28, 2005
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2nd Test: England v Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street, Jun 3-5, 2005
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Derbyshire v Bangladeshis at Derby, Jun 10, 2005
Scorecard

Worcestershire v Bangladeshis at Worcester, Jun 12, 2005
Scorecard

1st Match: England v Bangladesh at The Oval, Jun 16, 2005
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2nd Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Cardiff, Jun 18, 2005
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4th Match: England v Bangladesh at Nottingham, Jun 21, 2005
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6th Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Manchester, Jun 25, 2005
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7th Match: England v Bangladesh at Leeds, Jun 26, 2005
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9th Match: Australia v Bangladesh at Canterbury, Jun 30, 2005
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