Australia showed no mercy as they crushed England by 77 runs in the Twenty20 at Sydney after piling up the largest total at international level. Andrew Symonds and Cameron White blitzed the hapless attack after the early momentum was created by Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting and they reached 5 for 221. Two wickets in the first two overs of England's chase - including Andrew Flintoff for a duck - ended the contest apart from the interest surrounding Michael Vaughan.
England were in the match for about one over and from the moment James Anderson's first six balls went for 14 a huge total was on the cards. The sixth-wicket stand of 66 off 34 balls left the full house in raptures and England had no choice but to tee off from the start of their chase. The result was Ed Joyce falling in the first over and Flintoff top-edging a pull to square-leg in the second, a memorable first international scalp for Shane Harwood.
A game within a game revolved around Vaughan, in his first international appearance since December 2005, and with England so far adrift in the match his innings provided the main interest. A trademark swivel-pull and a couple of well-timed drives were a rare positive for the team but it is still far too early to draw firm conclusions.
His running between the wickets was laboured, but it was Kevin Pietersen who fell victim to the sharp Australian ground fielding as he was beaten by a direct hit from Harwood in the deep. Whereas Australia had boundary hitters down to No. 7 - and made use of them all - England had lost both theirs by the fifth over. For all the talk of Twenty20 still being hit-and-giggle, Australia were seriously impressive.
It wasn't only England's catching which was poor, but also the crowd's - and they had more than their fair share of chances. Fourteen deliveries sailed over the fence in the Australia innings, another Twenty20 record, mostly into the Bill O'Reilly stand. Gilchrist and Ponting, reprieved on 16 by Jon Lewis, set the tone as their third-wicket stand passed 50 off 29 balls with Gilchrist taking Anderson for three consecutive sixes.
The only moment England threatened control was during Monty Panesar's promising first effort in limited-overs internationals. Thrown the ball for the seventh over he provided further proof of the spinners' value in Twenty20. He was rewarded for clever changes of pace and flight as Gilchrist dragged on a sweep and Michael Hussey missed a charge.
But Australia just kept blasting and as the seamers returned for the latter overs the boundaries once again proved too small. Symonds was quickly into his stride, giving himself room to flay through the off side and easily clearing the boundary.
White, who holds the world-record score of 141 in Twenty20 cricket from his time at Somerset, gave further evidence of his striking power and the two allrounders gorged themselves. The bowlers struggled to find the yorker length, and even when they did the ball still disappeared into the stands. Anderson collected a record for himself - his 1 for 64 were the most expensive international Twenty20 figures - and Pietersen's last-over spill encapsulated England's lethargy.
It spread into the batting as the difference between the teams was shown by the intensity of Australia's bowling. Harwood and Ben Hilfenhaus, both on debut, showed their fine skills and England didn't manage to clear the boundary until Paul Nixon's blow in the final over. It was another example of them trying to be too cute in one-day cricket. The day was summed up when Symonds removed Vaughan in his first over - from a missed reverse sweep - and the returning captain should have been wondering about the wisdom of his decision.