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Australia Slaughter England
14 Sep 2007
By: Cameron Burge

Chastened by their inept performance against Zimbabwe at the same venue two days ago, and by the dressing down given by Ricky Ponting, Australia came to play today. Accused by their captain of not respecting the shortest version of the game, the Australians responded as only they can by comprehensively outplaying a bedraggled England.

England captain Paul Collingwood won the toss and elected to bat, and it was apparent from the first over that Australia's bowlers were determined to make amends for the shock defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe. Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson all bowled well and seemed intent on banging the ball into the wicket far more often than they had in the previous pool match. Consequently, England never really got going against any of the front line bowlers who may also have been stung by Kevin Pietersen's comments that he wanted to "humiliate" the Aussies in this match. Pietersen's batting skills are obviously not matched by his memory, for it would take 100 Twenty20 humiliations to expunge the memories of England's recent Ashes Tour down under. It was certainly a curious comment to make before a match for which Australia was already highly motivated, and was responded to emphatically by Ponting's pace quartet.

Of the England batsmen, Andrew Flintfoff looked to be re-capturing some of his old form with some well struck boundaries in his 31 from only 19 deliveries faced. For his part Pietersen managed 21 from 20 deliveries and looked in imperious touch, as did Collingwood before being adjudged lbw to a fast full pitcher from Brett Lee. Unfortunately for England none of the batsmen were able to convert their start into a lengthy (or at least lengthy by Twenty20 standards) stay in he middle. Consistent loss of wickets saw Collingwood's men dismissed from the final ball of the innings for 135. The target looked less than challenging, and so it later proved.

For Australia, all of the front-line bowlers were superb. Bracken's (3 for 16) versatility to both swing the ball early then return later to bowl slower cutters was of real benefit to Australia on this surface. Lee (1 for 31) was fast but bowled within himself whilst Clark (2 for 14) was his usual accurate self. Ponting will, however, be best pleased with Johnson (3 for 22) who bowled at a pace often exceeding 140 kph and got good carry through to Gilchrist. His chances of playing in the first test of the summer cannot have been dented by his performance today.

Following the frankly unsociably short meal break, Australia set out on its run chase with malice aforethought. England's exclusion of Anderson for Kirtley appeared to immediately have backfired when Broad's first delivery of the innings swung alarmingly into Gilchrist. One thought Anderson would have enjoyed such conditions. Unfortunately, there was very little movement for the England bowlers thereafter. Broad bowled well early but was unable to get the breakthrough which England so desperately needed, whilst Flintoff was his usual self - all bustle and intent, giving of his all to get some cheap scalps for his captain. What a grand cricketer he is - a player to be admired as much, if not more, for his attitude and tenacity than for his considerable ability. Certainly he is far too valuable an asset for England to be risking in this tournament, as became apparent when he appeared to be hobbling on his injury-plagued ankle towards the end of the game.

If Flintoff was noble, there was no gallantry in return from either Matthew Hayden or Adam Gilchrist. Australia has opted for a new uniform in this tournament - a sleeveless gold number with grey sportskins worn underneath. Although the costume is perhaps more appropriate for the inner suburbs of Sydney on a certain Saturday night in March, the uniform affords an appreciation of the sheer mass of Matthew Hayden, who took the opportunity to flex some of his considerable muscle in compiling an unbeaten 67 from only 43 deliveries faced.

Chasing a fairly moderate total, both openers were able to pace themselves and did not have to take too many liberties against the excellent Flintoff. Once Kirtley was introduced, however, Hayden in particular went up a gear, meeting and greeting the new bowler with three consecutive boundaries. Collingwood, looking to take the pace off the ball, introduced his own medium pacers in the fifth over, only to see his ploy fail with 16 taken from the over. The pair put on 78 in 8.2 overs before Gilchrist was caught by Flintoff at long-on from the economical leg spin of Schofield for a brisk 45 from 36 balls faced.

When joined by his captain, Hayden continued on his merry way before Ponting (20 from 16)was caught and bowled by Flintoff, who took a sharp left-handed grab at shoulder height. It was a fitting reward for England's best bowler, however, once Ponting went Hayden decided to quickly put an end to proceedings by striking the leg-spin of Schofield for three consecutive boundaries down the ground, two of which nearly took a piece of the non-striker Symonds with them.

Eventually, Symonds hit the winning runs and Australia was home by eight wickets with 5.1 overs to spare. It was a comprehensive win for Australia and a demoralising loss for England, although both teams now progress to the next stage of the tournament. Despite their much-improved showing here, Zimbabwe sadly bow out.

England 135 all out (20 overs)
Andrew Flintoff 31, Kevin Pietersen 21
Nathan Bracken 3-16, Mitchell Johnson 3-22

Australia 136-2 (14.5 overs)
Matthew Hayden 67*, Adam Gilchrist 45
Andrew Flintoff 1-25, Chris Schofield 1-31

Australia won by 8 wickets
Cricket Web Man of the Match: Nathan Bracken

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