NO sandpaper, no sledging and no win. Say hello to the Australian touring team of 2018.
They were beaten by England in their first international match since the toxic trip to South Africa earlier this year.
Getty Images – Getty Eoin Morgan scored a half century after the Aussies failed to post a challenging total
Three wickets was the margin and that makes it sound close. But, in truth, there were only a couple of moments at the Oval yesterday when Eoin Morgan’s team did not look like completing victory.
Our visitors from Down Under are trying to rebuild their country’s cricketing reputation by cutting out the profanities and not visiting the hardware store.
On this evidence, they are a pale imitation of the strutting, snarling team which crushed England in the Ashes last winter. Sure, several big-name players are either banned or injured but their batting in particular…well, it lacked grit.
The full house crowd joined in the convivial atmosphere and there was little in the way of mockery from spectators. Perhaps they are waiting for the return of David Warner and Steve Smith in next summer’s World Cup and Ashes.
Some dinosaurs still roam the jungle, though, even from 10,000 miles away. Darren ‘Boof’ Lehmann, who quit as head coach in tears, chided TV journalist Alison Mitchell on twitter for doing her job and reporting the fact that people were handing out sheets of sandpaper at nearby Vauxhall Station.
Boof the Buffoon.
Lehmann, don’t forget, is the man who encouraged the Aussie public to send Stuart Broad home “in tears” and once racially abused Sri Lankan players.
For England, it was a massively improved performance on their defeat in Scotland on Sunday.
Moeen Ali took three of the first four wickets and fellow spinner Adil Rashid also exerted an early stranglehold on Australia’s batting. They were helped by a string of loose shots such as captain Tim Paine’s woefully-judged reverse sweep straight into Mark Wood’s hands at backward point.
Australia slumped to 90-5 before a sixth-wicket stand of 84 between Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar partially retrieved the situation.
But Maxwell hoisted Liam Plunkett into Jonny Bairstow’s safe hands at deep square leg and Agar was lbw attempting to hit Rashid into the legside.
It meant Australia were dismissed for 214 – at least 100 runs short of a par total – with three of their 50 overs remained unused.
England’s attack was almost unrecognisable from the one hammered for 371-5 in Edinburgh. David Willey gained some early swing, Wood cranked up his pace a touch and Plunkett enjoyed a late three-wicket bonanza.
Moeen finished with 3-43 and that included Maxwell taking 14 off his final over. Rashid conceded just one boundary, struck by No.9 Andrew Tye in the wrist-spinner’s last over.
Jason Roy and Alex Hales both failed and Bairstow’s dream of a fourth successive ODI century ended when he holed out to deep mid-wicket.
No worries, however, as Joe Root and Morgan put on 115 for the fourth wicket. Morgan scored 69 at almost a run-a-ball and Root made a routine half-century.
There was a minor hiccup when Morgan, Jos Buttler and Root were dismissed in the space of ten runs. Moeen was then caught on the boundary from a mis-hit pull shot but Willey’s 35 not out saw England home with six overs to spare. Willey won the match with a straight six.
It was more like it from the No.1 ranked one-day team in the world.
As for Australia, well, we don’t want to see a return to the days of cheating and personal abuse but they need to improve with the bat in the second game of the series in Cardiff on Saturday.