The first of many, many meetings to come between England and Australia over all 3 formats in the next 8 months was the 3rd match of the ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Australia is the current holder of the ICC Champions Trophy, a much unloved tournament being played for the last time before it is replaced by some form of World Test Championship that has yet to be finalised. About time. Australia is without skipper Michael Clarke, whose back injury has him in doubt for the entire tournament, while England are without Kevin Pieterson and have rested (or kept from Australia) lanky quick Steven Finn and the brilliant off-spinner Graeme Swann.
The last time Australia played in a One Day International was on February 10 against the Windies at the MCG. Most of the Test squad was in India at the time. Five changes to the XI for this match, with Warner, Bailey, Mitchell Marsh, Wade and Starc coming in to replace Finch, Shaun Marsh, Haddin, Cutting and Doherty from that MCG game. England bat first, in their new all red one day uniforms that make them look more like Zimbabwe than the Poms. Mitchell Starc takes the new ball and promptly delivers a medium pace half volley on leg stump which English captain Alistair Cook easily dispatches for four. Even 89 year old President/Dictator Robert Mugabe would have dispatched that one to the fence wearing Zimbabwean red. Has that set the scene for the entire summer?
The pitch looked like a belter before the game but is holding up, making scoring fluently quite difficult. After Cook is dismissed for 30, the two Warwickshire locals Ian Bell and Jonathon Trott use their knowledge of the conditions to work the ball around and set up a good platform for their team. Starc, after a poor first spell, comes back and claims the wicket of Trott who flashes at a horribly wide delivery and edges through to Wade. Bell is bowled by Faulkner for a well made, if unspectacular 91 off 115 balls, Faulkner and McKay are bowling well and trigger a middle order collapse to leave England 6/213 off 43 overs. 56 runs off the last 7 overs, thanks largely to an unbeaten 46 off 37 balls to Ravi Bopara, allows the home team to finish at 6/269. McKay (2/38 off 10) and Faulkner (2/48 off 10) are super impressive. Starc (1/75 off 10) is not. Johnson bowls a good opening spell but goes wicketless and concedes 44 off his 8 overs. The crowd make a lot of noise every time Johnson goes near the ball, not sure it’s because he’s such a popular figure over there.
Warner and Watson make a plodding start and it’s a battle to score for the whole innings for the Aussies as they struggle to 9/221 off their 50 overs. Only stand- in captain George Bailey (55 off 69) and James Faulkner (54 not out off 42) look comfortable. Phil Hughes plays a few crisp shots, gives a couple of chances and generally looks awful in his 30 off 55 balls. Bailey is now our best one-day batsman, I’m sure it’s a major disappointment to the selectors that he had such a poor Sheffield Shield season. He made 83 in his last four day match for Hampshire a couple of weeks ago, if he can go back there during the Test series and put some scores together he might be a chance for a late Ashes call up given Clarke’s dodgy back, Hughes’s dodgy technique, Warner’s dodgy Twitter account and Watson’s dodgy everything. Jimmy Anderson is again superb, taking 3/30 and in the process becoming England’s highest ever ODI wicket taker, overtaking Darren Gough.
Australia’s next match in the Champions Trophy is against New Zealand on Wednesday night.
England 6/269 (Bell 91, Bopara 46*, Trott 43, McKay 2/38, Faulkner 2/48) def.
Australia 9/221 (Bailey 55, Faulkner 54*, Hughes 30, Anderson 3/30, Bresnan 2/45)
3. Ian Bell (England)
2. Ravi Bopara (England)
1. James Faulkner (Australia)