It’s a nice feeling to beat Australia 4-1 in their own backyard. I remember a time in the 90s when we were well beaten by Australia A so I’ll definitely take this emphatic win. Obviously the depth in Aussie cricket was immense in those dark days – I reckon their A side might beat the current Australian side too – but you can only beat the canary yellow outfit in front of you. England aren’t the perfect ODI side yet, but they might get there one day.
I won’t go into too much detail about Sunday’s game as there’s probably no need. England set a slightly below par 259 (in which too many batsmen threw their wicket away) but the Aussies imploded in the final 15 overs and made a complete hash of the chase. This despite England selecting a second string seam attack consisting of Willey, Ball, and Tom Curran … hardly Marshall, Ambrose, and Garner. In fact, it’s hardly Starc, Hazelwood, and Cummins.
Having said that, young Curran did bowl extraordinarily well. We gave him a bit of stick during the Ashes, in which he looked about as threatening as my cat (who’s 17 years old, deaf, docile, and literally toothless) so it’s only fair we give credit where it’s due. Curran charged in, bowled faster than we’ve seen before, and crucially got the ball to swing. He looks a much better in white ball cricket where his variations come in very handy.
I thought Willey and Moeen also bowled particularly well. The only disappointment was Jake Ball, who has taken just 21 wickets in 17 ODIs at a somewhat alarming average of 45 and with an economy rate over 6. Ball should get credit for completing his spell despite feeling unwell, but he doesn’t look like an international standard bowler to me. 17 games is probably a big enough sample size to judge, and thus far his average and strike rate are worse than Jade Dernbach’s (although Ball’s economy rate is fractionally better).
Looking at the series overall, I think England have taken another small step forward. We weren’t quite at our best, and the Adelaide game showed that our attacking batsmen still struggle to adapt when conditions demand a more introspective approach, but momentum continues to build nicely towards the 2019 World Cup. Indeed, our white ball form might keep Trevor Bayliss in a job no matter how poorly we play in test cricket.
Although I have a horrible feeling that we’ll win all our World Cup group games but then capitulate to 8-5 (or something similarly ghastly) in the semis on a greenish pitch, at least the current side is exciting to watch. I can’t remember a time when we were blessed with so many excellent white ball players. It’s good to see many of them rewarded in the IPL auction – although my feelings about the IPL are decidedly mixed – because I think the likes of Woakes, Mooen, and Wood deserve it. Heavens knows why Joe Root was ignored though. Perhaps they’re worried that he might upstage Kohli? Ahem.
At this point, it seems reasonable to give the much-maligned ECB some credit for England’s improved ODI form. They’ve shown exactly what can happen when a board prioritises one particular form of the game and does everything possible to help the players. England’s training methods are cutting edge and the domestic calendar frequently gives preference to white ball cricket – a trend that will be entrenched by the shiny new franchise T20. The ECB set out to improve our ODI fortunes after the abysmal 2015 World Cup under Peter Moores and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of proper English cricket supporters would much rather be good at test cricket than ODIs and T20s. Does anyone remember that we got absolutely annihilated 1-6 in the ODIs (yes they played seven games) immediately after we won the Ashes 3-1 down under in 2010/11? Nobody remembers this series because it counted for absolutely nothing. Instead everyone recalls that tour as a brilliant success – because we won 3 of the 5 games that actually mattered.
I hate to say it but nobody will remember this 4-1 win in a few years’ time either. Sure the players might (especially Tom Curran and Jason Roy) but most people will have forgotten the result by the time the upcoming T20 tri-series in New Zealand begins next month. After all, the games come thick and fast on the international calendar these days, and T20s are fast replacing ODIs as the white ball format with a future. How typical that England have become good at 50-over cricket just as the rest of the world begins to focus on something else.
Written in collaboration with Sporting Index – the place for all the latest cricket spread betting