Beaten England Just Relieved To Get Out Of Australia

cricket blogs for Yahoo Cricket Columns


So finally England's
marathon tour of Australia
is over. By the end of it Swann, Bresnan, Morgan, Tremlett, Collingwood and
Shahzad were barely walking wounded. Australia had suffered a fair share
of injuries themselves and the Test Match Sofa commentary team was down to the
bare bones.


From the look of the small crowds attending the last couple
of ODIs, even the fans had succumbed to sickness, injury and maybe just a touch
of boredom.


The teams that took to the field at the WACA bore no
resemblance to the sides the two countries will put out for the World Cup, and
consequently the cricket was pretty poor fare.


batted first, got into terrible trouble at the top of the order (as has been
the case for most of the series) and then found someone who miraculously knew
how to bat. On this occasion it was Adam Voges proving the selectors must have
a screw loose if they really think Steve Smith is the answer to anything.


His 80 off 72 balls with only four boundaries on a two paced
pitch was a masterclass in how to bat the middle and final overs. At no stage
in this series has any England
batsman showed the equivalent game intelligence and this has been the
difference between the two sides.


Indeed it is rather fashionable for TV commentators to dwell
on the relative runs scored by the sides during the power plays. If you did
that in this series you would find England just ahead. For a real
measure of how to dominate ODIs, however, you should look at the middle overs;
the period of lull between the fireworks of the power plays. It is in these
passages of the games that Australia
have massively outperformed England
thanks to excellent contributions at different times from Watson, Marsh,
Hussey, Voges and even once Clarke. For England the lull overs have been
explosive but in the wrong way as wickets have tumbled to empty headed idiocy.
And this from a settled batting line up.


Throughout the matches England have had to chop and change
their bowlers. For the most part three or even four have fired but the lack of
a settled attack has allowed Australia
to get away despite being under the cosh in every match except the first.


At Perth it was the 6th
different new ball pairing of Plunkett and a revived Anderson who kept Australia in
such check that they had reached only 55-2 at the end of the first 15 overs.
But Hussey and Voges took advantage of England’s
thin resources with a partnership of 95 in 14 overs and an eventual total of
279 looked well beyond England's


That view was confirmed when the recherché opening
partnership of Strauss and Davies, reunited with Prior dropped down to six
where he is far more suited, departed inside two overs with neither registering
a run. Strauss thus neatly book ended his tour with ducks at Brisbane in the 1st test and now
at the WACA.


When Trott, Pietersen and Bell
contrived to boost the confidence of the home town, milky eyed and normally
wayward Johnson to leave England
64-5 the match was as good as over.


Prior proved he can bat with an accomplished 39 and even
Luke Wright's hideously ugly but strangely effective cameo of 24 from 19 balls
offered England
some morsels of hope. But wickets went down exactly at the wrong moments.
However hard Yardy tried, and he did look to be trying terribly hard, he was
never going to take England
home. His unbeaten 60 in 76 balls was a worthy effort and once more should have
shamed his top order colleagues, but they have been shamed so many times in
this never ending series that it was probably water off a duck's back.


finally lost by 57 runs with six overs remaining, yet again failing to see out
their allocation, and in so doing conceding the series by six matches to one.
It would be humiliating if they hadn’t already trounced their hosts in the test


It's hard to believe that the best preparation for the World
Cup for either team was a seven match series in Australian conditions. Both
sides will now head to the sub continent with barely a break, though the
Aussies will at least be confident.


As for England,
they are counting the fit bodies. Morgan's broken finger would be more of a
worry if he was in any kind of form. There is a strong suspicion that the
bowlers will be ready and were in fact relieved of their duties to get rest
before the World Cup. Judging by the ruthless manner Flower sent them to Brisbane to avoid the Hobart match prior to the first test, it
would seem likely that once more the coach is one step ahead.


As for the Sofa team we now have two weeks to refresh our
weary minds before the jamboree begins on 19th February. I for one
cannot wait to watch teams other than England
and Australia.
And whilst Indian readers may vehemently disagree, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sri Lanka
finish up on top. After all, they’ve had the best preparation. The persistent rain
has meant they've hardly played a match in two months, and this tournament is
going to be another marathon.