September 17, 2013
After 34 matches and more than four months of non-stop cricket, the English international home season has finally come to an end. Following a succession of ODI series defeats against England, Australia finally gained revenge by winning the deciding game by 49 runs in the cold at the Ageas Bowl. The day nighter, having started in autumnal sunshine, finished with Australian fielders clutching hand warmers and, in the case of skipper Michael Clarke, using them to keep their ears warm.
Australia posted a total of 298 in their 50 overs, thanks largely to powerful hitting from man of the match Shane Watson (143 from 107 balls). Clarke provided support with a run-a-ball 75. For England, Ben Stokes picked up a maiden five-wicket haul, while Boyd Rankin impressed again with bounce and control. The England spinners James Tredwell and Joe Root took a pasting as they were hammered for 96 in their combined 10 overs.
Chasing 299, England may have fancied their chances on a fast true pitch, but tired shots and two dozy run outs left the middle order with too much to do. A century stand from Ravi Bopara (62) and Joss Buttler (42) revived hopes, but ultimately the target proved elusive and Australia ran out comfortable winners. Once again, Mitchell Johnson kept the English batsmen on the back foot. Bowling consistently at 90+ mph, he conceded only 21 runs in his 10 overs.
The 2-1 series margin was a fair reflection of the relative strengths of the two sides, England having rested five first team regulars. In the captain’s interviews after the game, Clarke, who was named man of the series, expressed relief that his team are returning home on a positive note, while Eoin Morgan spoke of the progress made by some of the England understudies. Australia head off next for more one day cricket in India while England prepare themselves for the forthcoming Ashes series with a period of rest followed by the now obligatory boot camp.
Australia 298 (Watson 143, Clarke 75, Stokes 5-61) beat England 249 (Bopara 62, Faulkner 3-38) by 49 runs
The Scoop 17/09/13