Australia cruise over England with 8 wicket victory

The most relieved man in South Africa must be Australian coach Tim Nielsen. The guy just took over from John Buchanan who has possibly the most successful coaching record in cricket history (can someone look that up?) For his first game as coach, his team turns up underdone, underprepared and defeated by uber-minnows Zimbabwe. This is a team so bad they voluntarily withdrew themselves from Test cricket. After the upset, the Zimbabwe newspaper The Herald sledged Australia, noting that "now it’s clear why Howard and Downer blocked those boys from Down Under from coming up North. Both men had a presentiment of defeat, and as events would have it, one well founded too." (be warned, the full Herald article is pretty dodgy but it is a Mugabe sanctioned paper). And Australia stood on the brink of getting knocked out of the first round of the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup alongside Kenya, Scotland and the West Indies. Not the best kick off to Tim's international coaching career.

Fortunately, Australia qualified for the next round after an emphatic 8 wicket win over England. As if impending humiliation wasn't motivation enough, Kevin Pietersen handed a generous sidedish of extra impetus with some pre-game sledging. I can just imagine his English teammates muttering through clenched teeth "Shut up Kevin!" as he mouthed off about humiliating Australia and sending them packing. As it turned out, England's performance was as insipid as Australia's against Zimbabwe. Admittedly, all England had to do to qualify was turn up and not get thrashed. They achieved that goal... barely.

England's innings began slowly until Pietersen and Collingwood ramped things up midway through the innings. Coincidentally, this was the same time I started watching the coverage, sparking fears that the JC curse banished at the World Cup might be returning. Fortunately Nathan Bracken came on and clean bowled Pietersen with his first delivery. Man of the match Bracken had a great game - his wickets at the death stifled any chance of England posting a competitive total. Gotta say though, am less of a fan than ever of his metrosexual hairstyle.

So England limped to 135 all out. The only bright point was Flintoff's return to form, well aided by a succession of half volleys from the Australian bowlers. Hayden and Gilchrist cruised through Australia's opening overs, rattling along at 10 runs per over (although Stuart Broad nearly trapped Gilly with an inswinger on the first ball of the innings - must've been the squash ball that saved him). Gilchrist and Ponting fell along the way but their wickets were mere hiccups on the way to a comfortable 8 wicket victory. Surprisingly, much of the crowd starting leaving halfway through the innings. There was only 10 overs to go (in fact, 5 overs - Australia finished with 31 balls to spare). Just how short an attention span do cricket audiences have these days?! Soon they'll be trimming the format to Ten10 cricket.

Not having watched England play since the Ashes, I was surprised to see a number of new faces. Stuart Broad looks to have been plucked from junior high school - he makes Leonardo di Caprio look like Ernst Borgnine. As for Australia, they were disciplined, professional and ruthless. It was the kind of performance you would have expected from them against Zimbabwe two days ago. Still, I shouldn't complain - I've been suffering cricket malaise since the World Cup (hence the long breaks between blog posts). There's nothing like an Aussie defeat to reignite some passion in the relationship.
Posted by JC on Sat 15 Sep 44 comments
That Stuart Broad analogy was top work. You should pat yourself on the back for that.
Posted by Uncle J rod on 2007-09-15 12:32:43
Australia - You bloody beauty!! Sensational bowling from Johnson and Bracken who both took 3 wickets and a huge round of applause to Gilchrist and Hayden for smashing up big runs! Whoo! Go boys! To see smiles on the Aussies faces was awesome and to see the sad Pommies faces was even better. Go Australia!!! :)
Posted by Aussie on 2007-09-15 12:57:01
I didn't realise that McCauley Caulkin had changed his name to Stuart Broad and started playing for the Poms.. sounds about right though
Posted by Moses on 2007-09-27 13:01:55

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