Trescothick leads England cruise

This summer’s one-day cricket has followed little semblance of scripting at any stage of proceedings, but today’s NatWest Challenge opener at Headingley eventually brought the first suggestion of familiarity to England and Australia – Australia’s middle order again cut down following a brisk start, despite Michael Hussey’s efforts – but this time England’s run chase proceeded with only minor hiccups to record a convincing #-wicket win.

With every Leeds stereotype to the fore – overcast conditions, a bracing breeze and uneven, two-paced bounce – England, unchanged from the eleven who tied in the final, surprised no one when Michael Vaughan elected to field as they had at Lord’s. The Australians, however, made one switch as Brad Hogg was reduced to the role of substitute for Shane Watson, whilst England named Vikram Solanki as their twelfth pick.

And again as at Lord’s, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist were not overly troubled in the opening spells of Simon Jones and Darren Gough. The England bowlers tended to pull the ball a little too short and as the ball seamed around in the friendly morning conditions, the movement took the ball past the bat. Hayden was content to dig in and scratch around, but in contrast Adam Gilchrist took full toll when the delivery invited a peppering of the midwicket stands.

Then once more as at Lord’s, the introduction of Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison forced the brakes onto the English chase. A seemingly inoccuous delivery down the leg side strangled Adam Gilchrist’s wicket as Geraint Jones leapt to his left in order to cling on – and when Hayden’s powers of judgment temporarily deserted him to trigger a skywards heave into the legside, England had redressed the early imbalance to bring themselves back into the game.

Yet still the English seam attack dragged their deliveries consistently short, and saw the aid of the conditions spurned – until Michael Vaughan brought on his part-time bowling option of Paul Collingwood in lieu of Ashley Giles’ left arm spin, and the medium pace of the Durham all-rounder proved almost instantly successful. Despite Damien Martyn being fortunate to escape a strong shout for caught behind off Harmison, Ricky Ponting opted to take the attack to Collingwood, and it cost the Australian skipper his wicket.

An ambitious hit to leg zeroed in on the reliable hands of Kevin Pietersen at midwicket, before Andrew Symonds – caught at a wide slip attempting an ill-advised drive against an away-swinger and finding Marcus Trescothick – and Michael Clarke – indiscriminately heaving at a straight ball that terminated at the top of off stump – became further scalps for Collingwood to leave Australia wobbling at 120-5 before England became the first ever side to use their “supersub”.

Simon Jones completed his ten overs, to be replaced by Vikram Solanki, before five became seven as Martyn and Shane Watson followed their team-mates back to the pavilion. Martyn, earlier reprieved, was unable to make England suffer inordinately as the slightest deflection off his gloves was smartly taken by Geraint Jones to give Collingwood his fourth victim, before Harmison’s back-of-a-length approach finally paid dividend as Shane Watson uppishly hoiked the ball to Andrew Strauss in the deep. England were on top, but – as at Lord’s – Michael Hussey was still there; and as at Lord’s, he made the hosts pay at the death.

In alliance with Brett Lee’s unorthodox array of strokeplay, Hussey slapped, smashed and smeared his country to fifty from their last five overs as Australia made their way to 219-7, a total seemingly 20 or 30 above both the par total, and what seemed certain only a handful of minutes earlier – but as the sun came out, the initiative seemed to sway back to England.

As at Lord’s, Australia needed wickets. Unlike Lord’s, they didn’t get them, and the script ended. Gilchrist spilled a fairly regulation chance off Glenn McGrath with England on 16, before the very next delivery saw Trescothick guide Brett Lee’s fourth no-ball to his fellow opening bowler at third man, and from England eased into control of proceedings. England greeted Australia’s second powerplay – the name for the separate blocks of fielding restrictions – with two smartly-hit boundaries, one pulled in front of square by either batsman – before Australia’s change bowling in Jason Gillespie and Shane Watson were unable to stem the flow, again drifting short and finding themselves disappearing through the leg side in front of square.

Australia’s misery was compounded as firstly Ricky Ponting’s shy at the stumps careered to the boundary for overthrows, before Shane Watson suffered a side strain mid over to end his participation in the day’s play. As a result, Australia called for their own “supersub” in Brad Hogg, who replaced Matthew Hayden. At first sight, a bizarre strategy – but with Watson still off the field, Hayden remained onfield as substitute fielder – enabling Hogg to bowl Hayden’s full complement of ten overs, rather than the eight remaining for Watson.

None of these manipulations of regulations helped the Australians, as England eased to three figures as they neared the halfway point of the chase, before an indiscrete reverse sweep from Andrew Strauss – in Hogg’s first over – was well taken by Gilchrist, partially atoning for his earlier error, but England were still well on top as their captain Vaughan strode to the wicket. It wasn’t a breakthrough that stymied Marcus Trescothick’s enthusiasm for the chase, however, as a late cut sped deftly to the third man boundary before the left-arm spinner saw the opening batsman find the stands at mid on.

England continued to pick up easy singles, in addition to the occasional boundary as the Australian seamers’ length erred, but Trescothick was very fortunate to be reprieved by Rudi Koertzen as he ran Symonds into Gilchrist’s gloves. England were in no mood to cruise over the line however, as a brace of firmly struck pulls from Vaughan further denied Jason Gillespie any chance to return to the slightest semblance of form. Further boundaries followed with the England skipper slashing over the slips before stepping down the wicket to lift a slower delivery to the mid-off boundary on the second bounce, further destroying Jason Gillespie’s figures – the paceman’s ten overs costing 66 runs.

Vaughan flicked Hogg past square leg to record his half-century, but Marcus Trescothick proved the batting star as he eased Lee to the mid-on boundary to reach 99, then threading the extra cover ring to bring up his 10th ODI hundred, and – more crucially – his first against the Australians. England applied the finishing touches to their victory in style, as another Lee no-ball was dispatched to the midwicket boundary, courtesy of a commanding Vaughan pull shot, to seal a commanding nine-wicket triumph.

The second match of the series takes place at Lord’s on Sunday, but the strongest psychological cards are back into the English deck – with just two more match-ups before the Test series commences, the Australians – and in particular their seam battery – have work to do to see off the steadily growing threat to their Ashes crown.

Australia 219-7
Michael Hussey 46*, Damien Martyn 43
Paul Collingwood 4-34, Steve Harmison 2-39

England 221-1
Marcus Trescothick 104*, Michael Vaughan 59*
Brad Hogg 1-30

England won by 9 wickets

CricketWeb Player of the Match
Marcus Trescothick (England) – 104*

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