England Easily Beaten...Again! - VB Series - Australia v England

Cricket News 23/01/03

Report by Jon Cocks

The first and only win Nasser Hussain had at the SCG in the first VB Series Final was that of the toss. His decision to bat first on an even, white-looking and flat wicket was – on the face of it – a good one. An hour later, though, having been dismissed for one himself and looking in dismay at the wreckage of the top order, he would have been excused for thinking differently. Three hours later, with his team dismantled in 41 overs for an execrable 117 with four ducks and only Collingwood exceeding 25, the England captain must have wondered what he had been thinking.

The SCG wicket has been good for more runs this summer than any other ground. There was no indication the Australian bowlers paid any attention to this. They were consistent, probing and quite brilliant at times and supported superbly by the fielding, with all chances accepted and just one overthrow allowed. When the Australian opening batsmen brutally exposed just how poor the England batting had been, ending the mis-match well before the SCG lights took full effect, Hussain’s earlier food for thought had become a banquet that no captain could find in any way appetising.

Williams (10-2-22-2) opened with a maiden and bowled a relentless line with movement off the seam. Lee (10-1-29-3) began brilliantly, catching Trescothick’s (0) glove in his first over for Gilchrist’s first of five catches. Getting in close to the stumps in his delivery stride and bowling a full length at express pace, Lee’s occasional short ball rocked all top order batsmen, his line and pace too good. Harbinger of disasters to come, Brad Hogg nearly ran Knight out with a sharp throw from cover, when the nudged and ran, desperate – after ten initial dot balls – to get the innings moving.

Vaughan cut Williams past point for a boundary in the fifth over, the first good stroke of the innings, and repeated the shot against Lee shortly afterwards, but not before the paceman had caught Knight’s (5) glove as well to send him on his way. Williams, unhappy with Lee getting all the early glory, beat Hussain (1) with the first ball of his next over and found the England captain’s inside edge for him to chop onto his stumps with his next delivery. At 3-19, the nightmare was only just beginning to unfold.

Stewart (12) sought to counter-attack, working the pacemen into the gaps and running hard between the wickets, but Williams cramped him for room, he edged onto his thigh guard, the ball dollying to Gilchrist for his third catch. After eleven overs England had crumpled to 4-33, but worse was to follow. Andy Bichel replaced Lee at the Randwick End, with Shane Warne – in his return from injury – taking over from Williams.

The tight bowling and taut fielding continued without respite, just twelve runs in eight overs eked by England for the fifth wicket, which fell when Bichel trapped the dangerous Vaughan (21) on the crease, LBW to a ball that seamed back from outside off. Immediately afterwards, Blackwell nicked his second ball to Ponting at second slip, recording his third consecutive duck in this competition.

Bichel and Warne kept things tight, with the returning master leg spinner only ‘ripping’ the occasional ball, content in the main to bowl a tidy line and length. Collingwood, meanwhile, continued his good form, gradually building an innings and hoping that Irani could stay with him. The pair added for the seventh wicket, before Ponting became impatient for more mayhem, reintroducing Lee and Williams.

Irani (10) did his best to commit suicide, but the lofted shot from Lee to square leg fell short of Hayden. He wasn’t so lucky the second time, as Andy Bichel accepted the easiest of chances at mid on. The seventh wicket managed 34 in ten overs and Andy Caddick (12*) made his way to the middle, perhaps with thoughts of an overtime claim on the ECB in mind, given the rescue acts with the bat demanded of him in the latter stages of the tournament.

Brad Hogg (4-0-13-0) and Shane Warne (10-0-28-1) teamed to hurry through some wrist spin overs in tandem. Collingwood was able to milk an otherwise probing Hogg into the on side for a few runs, but the accent was on survival rather than any real attempt to attack. Warne’s second spell of three overs featured a couple of flippers that were too short, but he ‘ripped’ a few and – with his final ball - he drew Collingwood (43) forward, beating him through the air and off the wicket. Gilchrist completed the stumping, ending the eighth wicket partnership of 36, the best – or least bad – of a sorry afternoon.

Andy Bichel (7-2-18-4) replaced Warne to mop up the England innings, drawing successive edges to the keeper to remove Anderson (0) and Hoggard (0) in short order and the Australians went in for an early dinner break. The Sydney crowd afforded Warne a standing ovation, as it was his last appearance there in the ODI colours.

Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden appeared to want to catch the seven p.m. ABC TV news, as they raced past the fifty in the sixth over, with Gilchrist smashing eight boundaries in nine balls at one point. Nothing Caddick, Anderson or Hoggard could do made the slightest difference, as the run-rate tore along at over nine an over. Pulls, cover drives and cuts rocketed to the fence, with one Caddick over going for 20 from five scoring strokes.

Adam Gilchrist rocketed to 51* with another cover drive for a boundary from the last ball of the eighth over. He hit twelve fours to that point from 28 balls faced, the third quickest fifty by an Australian in ODIs. Gilchrist coolly noted the places from which Hussain had removed men to cover holes in the field - that must have seemed like a pin-cushion to the England captain – and calmly hit strokes into those gaps to the rope. From the last two balls of the ninth over, Gilchrist late cut a four and Collingwood dropped him overhead from the last ball that also finished at the backward point rope.

Ronnie Irani bowled the tenth over, ‘restricting’ the batsmen to ‘just’ eight and the hundred came up in 62 balls, with nineteen boundaries. Two more fours – a cut from Hayden and a pull from Gilchrist down the ground – pushed the score to 109 by the end of the eleventh over. Hayden – irritated by an LBW appeal by Irani from the first ball of the twelfth over – annihilated the next into the long off crowd. To complete the pain, Stewart, standing up to the stumps, dropped Hayden from the final ball of the over.

Hoggard bowled the final two balls; Gilchrist took one, Hayden took two and the crushing ten-wicket Australian victory was completed in 12.2 overs. Gilchrist decimated the England bowling to the tune of 69 in 37 balls, with 14 fours (and a fifteenth all run), while Hayden’s 45 also took 37 balls, with six fours and the massive six. As a comment on the quality of the wicket, Brett Lee’s searing bowling performance snared Man of the Match ahead of Gilchrist, despite his brilliant knock and six dismissals.

And the ACB is still marketing a third final in Adelaide. Yeah, right.

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