Aussies Humbled in English Boilover

Wednesday, September 22 2004

Australia's 14-match undefeated streak against England came to a crashing hault as Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan steered England to a memorable victory in the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final at Edgbaston.

Winning the toss, England captain Vaughan followed popular trend in opting to bowl first in the early September conditions. His England side retained a familiar look as Australian selectors recalled Brett Lee in favour of his blond squad mate Shane Watson.

The Australians began in sharp fashion, as Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist took a particular liking to veteran quick Darren Gough. Steve Harmison, however, claimed a sucker-punch wicket at the end of the eighth over as Hayden fell to a regulation edged at second slip after being planted on the back foot for the majority of the early stages.

Gilchrist continued on his merry charge until reaching 37, before Trescothick accepted another edge in the cordon to ensure a comeback wicket for Gough after his re-introduction.

The breakthrough launched a common theme throughout the Australian innings. Consistent wickets were to fall, leaving the run-rate sporadic and giving the visitors little or no momentum to thrust their innings with.

As Ashley Giles claimed the Australian captain Ricky Ponting for 29, South Australian Darren Lehmann was promoted in ahead of Andrew Symonds, with the left-hander controlling the middle overs in classy fashion before being bowled by the part-time finger spinners of Vaughan attempting to sweep. When Symonds did finally reach the crease, his immediate run-out for 0 left the match finely tipped towards the English at 5/190 in the 40th over.

Twenty runs later the elegant Damien Martyn fell for a polished 65 before a third Trescothick catch left the Australian batting line-up looking unusually thin. Michael Clarke patrolled the slog overs with typical youth and panache in compiling a quick fire 42 from number 7 before falling to Andrew Flintoff on the penultimate delivery of the innings.

Despite his early carving, Gough finished the innings with 3/48 from his 7 overs. The spin of Vaughan and Giles claimed a combined 3 victims, while the in-form Flintoff and Harmison claimed a wicket each.

The English run chase began in rather predictable fashion - Vikram Solanki, so often uncomfortable during his ODI career - toyed with the typical Glenn McGrath outside off stump line, playing and missing numerous times early. It was to be Jason Gillespie who proved his nemesis, however, as he shuffled across his crease and padded a straight one in the 6th over.

Trescothick was soon to cart McGrath for 16 off an over late in his opening spell, throwing the match wide open and adding the possibility of Australian nerves into the fray. McGrath was typically vocal about his treatment, although his replacement in the attack the next over did little to stem the left-hander.

Somewhat strangely in ODI cricket, Vaughan bided his time at the crease. With an average of a tick over 23 the England captain has failed to do justice to his significant talent in the shorter form of the game. Today, composure was the key to his start, playing each ball on its merits and leaving those alone that didn't require his attention.

Brett Lee's selection gamble began to come unstuck around the 15 over mark as Ponting inserted spin for the first time after 20 overs in the form of Lehmann, whom Vaughan made a point of attempting to sweep from anywhere.

Both batsmen passed 50 as the Australians began to tighten up in the field. After being masters of the English domain in their past 14 clashes, something had to give. While tidy, the spin of Lehmann and Symonds failed to penetrate or numb the runs significantly despite the departure of Trescothick for 81 in the 32nd over.

Andrew Strauss joined Vaughan at the wicket, looking confident against the delivery that has caused him problems in his international career thus far - the sliding delivery outside off-stump.

The England captain and his fresh-faced soldier continued to push the home side towards a historic win, with Vaughan falling to Lee for 86 after the result was all but assured. The failure of Flintoff shortly after placed some nervous moments into the England corner, yet Strauss retained his cool in reaching a 4th ODI half-century, finishing the match unbeaten on 52 from just 44 balls.

For the Australians, tournament trump card Michael Kasprowicz failed to fire along with new ball duo McGrath and Gillespie. Brett Lee received heavy stick, while little that Lehmann and Symonds could muster sent fear into the hearts of the English.

For all the talk and all the improvement, this match was to prove the benchmark of how far they had progressed as a side. Only Gough and Giles remained from the last English side that defeated the Australians in 1999 during the then Carlton and United One-day triangular.

This defeat, however, will prove wider ranging. The result pushes England to their first major tournament final since the 1992 World Cup, while the Australians failure to gain the Champions Trophy continues.

Final Scores:

Australia 9/259
D Martyn 65, M Clarke 42;
D Gough 3/48.

England 4/262
M Vaughan 86, M Trescothick 81, A Strauss 52*;
B Lee 2/65.

England won by 6 wickets.

Cricket Web Player-of-the-Match: Michael Vaughan.

Posted by Andre