Gilchrist eases Australia home

England’s brief hold over Australia came to an abrupt halt at St. Vincent today as Australia cruised comfortably to a five wicket victory, as they chased down England’s meagre total of 197.

Adam Gilchrist (72) and Shane Watson (55) were the chief tormentors as they combined for an opening stand of 140, which resulted in Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin knocking off the winning runs with 55 balls to spare.

Shaun Tait impressed with the ball, and for England the return to some form for Michael Vaughan will have been their most pleasing aspect.

It was Vaughan who won the toss and decided to strap his pads on as England set about setting a testing target. However, Ed Joyce, who continues to keep Andrew Strauss out of the side, fell early to a full pitched inswinger from the pacy Tait.

That brought together England’s best partnership by some distance, as Vaughan and Bell combined to great effect. Both were severe on anything slightly full or off line and accumulated 116 before Bell was lured from his crease by a wrong one from the left armed Hogg.

England’s captain had looked in excellent nick, particularly strong through the leg side, he hit young Mitchell Johnson for three fours in one over. One flick through straightish mid wicket especially, brought back memories of what a talent England have been missing recently.

The skipper was next to go, only 9 runs later, to another Hogg wrong one, in attempting to make room for himself, Vaughan over compensated, which resulted in him stretching and spooning a cut up to point. The England management, players and supporters alike will have been heartened by what they saw of Vaughan today, a well earned 62 off 73 balls.

Both openers will be disappointed by something that has blighted their one-day careers to date, the inability to go on once a start has been made.

That was virtually England’s only bright spell for the day, it was downhill from there. In typical England fashion of old, the rest of the batting simply capitulated, in the face of some good accurate Australian bowling who mixed up slow bowling with out and out pace, and a cocktail of cutters thrown in for good measure.

The old adage of picking up wickets being the best way to slow down a run rate was no more apparent than here today. After 20 overs England were progressing nicely at 100 for 1. The next 28.3 overs saw a mere 97 runs made with nine wickets being lost in the process.

England once again struggling to come to terms with slow bowling in the middle stages of an innings. Brad Hogg, with all due respect, not one of spin bowlings world beaters, got through his 10 overs for 28 runs picking up a couple of vital wickets.

Tait, who bowled sharply throughout, picked up 4-33. How much Australia will miss Brett Lee is difficult to tell at this stage, but Tait is certainly the man who is most likely to replace him, likely to be used as a strike bowler brought on to remove any danger of a partnership forming.

So with 198 in their sights, Australia set about their task, and a commanding performance it was. There was a slight wobble later on in the day, but Gilchrist and Watson had already done the damage at the top of the order.

With the recent disappointments in the one-day arena, it will have been viewed as imperative they start to head in the right direction from here on if they are to complete the third World Cup win in succession. So a good start was needed and boy did these two deliver.

They batted positively yet watchfully and after 20 overs the score had ticked nicely along to 118-0. Gilchrist even had the courtesy to wait till he reached 50 before he deposited Plunkett on the roof of a stand with a trademark strike down the ground for a helathy sized maximum.

With Watson sill unsure of his place as an opener, especially with Matthew Hayden waiting in the wings, this knock will have done him no harm at all. His bowling may not yet be up to the level to trouble the best batsmen consistently, but his batting is improving with every outing, and here he batted powerfully and straight.

England finally broke the partnership on 140, when Watson cut Panesar to backward point and Pietersen took a good catch low down. More wickets were to fall but the general feeling was the job had been done. They could even afford a rare failure from their captain Ponting who chopped one on off Dalrymple.

Michael Clarke came to the crease and watched while Brad Hodge and Mike Hussey threw away chances to see the game to its finish. Clarke batted sensibly and ensured no mistakes were to be made on his part, and finished 24 not out.

It was a professional display from the holders, and their bowling, which is generally perceived as their weakness, was accurate and showed good variety.

However, England were below par on all facets of their cricket today. The batting, excluding Vaughan and Bell, lacked any real purpose, the fielding in general was sloppy and the bowlers failed to get the ball in the right areas consistently enough to make it a difficult chase.

Duncan Fletcher will be hoping to get this kind of performance out of the way in the not too important warm up games and improve when the serious business gets underway for England on Friday. They will find the New Zealanders no more accomodating.

Australia will be looking to build on this and forget their recent misdemeanours. A third consecutive World Cup triumph ? You would not bet against it.

England 197
Michael Vaughan 62, Ian Bell 56
Shaun Tait 4-33, Stuart Clark 3-16

Australia won by 5 wickets

Australia 200-5
Adam Gilchrist 72, Shane Watson 55
Paul Collingwood 1-15, Monty Panasar 1-16

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Paul Wood