Is it wrong that we enjoyed the first ODI more, giving us as it did the opportunity to just switch off our TV set and do something less boring instead? (Which in our case was trying to persuade Australians to change their voting preferences by threatening them with a large stick.)
This wasn’t exactly a great advert for ODI cricket with a second string England side getting a right pasting. The ‘bits and pieces’ bowling attack came a cropper at the hands of Aaron Finch, Michael Clarke and George Bailey who, sensibly enough, looked to get after England’s proper bowlers (particularly James Tredwell), leaving Eoin Morgan with nowhere to turn. Australia’s cruise past 300 was made to look remarkably easy, with almost no pressure applied by the bowling side at any point after the first over.
In contrast, Australia started well with the ball and England just crumbled. Only four players made it to double figures (and one of those was Steven Finn), although Jos Buttler finally began to demonstrate that he’s not actually quite as rubbish as his previous ODI form suggests. Indeed he increased his career ODI runs by 65% in a single day, which isn’t bad going in anyone’s book.
Well, er, Boyd Rankin looks like he might turn out to be a decent bowler. And Buttler batted as he has generally done for Somerset over the last few years – gradually building an innings before exploding into life – rather than in the rather horrific way he’s done for England to date. Other than that this was almost a complete write-off. At a real stretch we could say that Steve Finn bowled a reasonable opening spell before falling away later on, Ben Stokes reached a decent pace (albeit by mainly bowling full tosses to excite the speed gun) and Eoin Morgan’s return to form has been timely. But really that’s it – everything else about this was just crap. Seriously – send for Liam Plunkett now or this series isn’t going to provide a single point of interest.
This was Australia as we remember them from pointless post-Ashes ODI series past: ruthlessly and efficiently smiting an England side that couldn’t be less interested if they tried. There was some excellent batting, some very good bowling – particularly from Mitchell Johnson, who is now the only fit Mitchell available and therefore a shoe-in for the Ashes down under – and a generally professional all-round level of competence. Not exactly words we’ve often used to describe these particular tourists.
It’s off to Birmingham for Wednesday’s thrilling spectacular. England might want to have a bit of a reshuffle, so that they actually have some bowlers. Australia will just want to spend a bit more time in a country that actually has proper broadband and where homosexuality isn’t suddenly on the verge of becoming a criminal offence, before heading home to knock up their wives and pocket a fortune.