First Final, Australia v England

The Commonwealth Bank Series, 2006-07

Peter English

At Melbourne, February 9, 2007 (day/night). England won by four wickets. Toss: Australia.

Collingwood's second century in a row sealed a dramatic victory after Australia twice threw away match-winning positions. Ponting lectured his team in the dressing-room immediately after the shock defeat. Hayden and Ponting had controlled England's bowlers, easing to 170 for one, but in a sudden reversal Australia were all out 82 runs later in the 49th over, with the last six wickets falling for 23. The collapse was orchestrated by Panesar and also Flintoff, who then made an important batting contribution too, and was helped by two run-outs by Collingwood. England started badly, and Bell and Collingwood were forced to stabilise. Collingwood was again outstanding, starting with a four over mid-on, and he added a straight six off McGrath. England's mood began to improve during a four-over stint in the second powerplay when Collingwood and Bell, dropped at deep square when 18 by McGrath (who later missed a run-out to complete a highly forgettable 37th birthday) stole 41 to cut the required rate to less than a run a ball. In his second spell, Lee yorked Bell, but he was unable to remove Collingwood, who continued clipping and nudging... and inspiring. He was the essential figure in important stands with Flintoff and Nixon, and when England wanted 25 from the final three overs, he absorbed the pressure, clipped Watson for consecutive boundaries, and went on to seal a success that was seen as unlikely before the start and thoroughly improbable at 15 for three. Off the field, Channel 9 commentator Ian Healy was forced to apologise after he was caught on camera playing air-violin to mock Andrew Symonds, who was explaining to viewers why he and Hayden were using pink bat handles to support breast cancer victims.

Attendance: 38,858.

© Wisden Cricketers' Almanack