Cricket: Finn puts visitors to flight again
ANOTHER day and another victory for England. They are fast turning into a relentless winning machine, especially in the seamer-friendly conditions that this damp summer has provided.
Poor old Australia thought a five match series would offer them succour against England. Maybe win one or two, take the others close and get a good look at this England side that is striding the cricketing world like a colossus. Number one in Test cricket, T20 World Champions and only a match or two away from number one in this 50 over format.
Well, come the final match on Tuesday and the Australians will be fed up of England, the weather and a battery of quick seam bowlers that seems inexhaustible.
This time it was Steven Finn who did the damage. His opening burst dismissed the dangerous David Warner and Peter Forrest in consecutive deliveries and the hat-trick offering cut poor old Michael Clarke in half as it jagged back, just missing the inside edge.
It was Test match bowling in a 50 over game and with James Anderson controlling the ball from the other end like a Zen master, the batters resembled marionette puppets more than top class stroke-makers.
Conditions were suitable, indeed ideal, for the England bowlers, but they still had to be accurate and disciplined. Even Ravi Bopara was occasionally unplayable with his medium pace mixture of swingers and cutters. Too often he has looked insecure in the side, almost unsure of his place, but no longer.
Without a typically pugnacious and canny innings by David Hussey, Australia would never have reached 200. He may lack glamour but Hussey is a wonderfully versatile batsman and his 70 at about a run-a-ball was superb as he deftly manoeuvred the ball into gaps, ran hard and picked up boundaries behind square on the offside as accurately as a surgeon splicing a vein.
There was no upper-order support for him, though, after Finn had returned and again taken two wickets in two balls, this time Michael Clarke and Michael Wade. Brett Lee tried and did well, but one marked difference between these two sides is England’s ability to work in partnerships with both bat and ball.
Anderson, Tim Bresnan, the absent Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad may squabble and snipe like old married couples but they work completely in unison within their plans. Similarly, the batsmen bat in pairs, working and running hard for each other and ultimately the team. Partly this is due to consistency of selection, many players being selected for two, if not three formats, but also due to the coach, Andy Flower, who has convinced the players that they are stronger if they work together as a team.
Whisper it quietly but maybe they are a better side without Kevin Pietersen. Ian Bell has certainly enjoyed the opportunity to open and partner Alastair Cook. They make an odd couple, Bell previously known for insecurity and timidity and Cook a phlegmatic, commanding officer straight from a Boy’s Own comic, but they are mightily effective.
Bell added another elegant half-century to confirm his stature at the top of the order and, when he was dismissed, Jonathan Trott continued, collecting runs as assiduously as a miser seeking scattered pennies. He registered his 17th one-day half-century and on the way reached 2,000 ODI runs more swiftly than the great Sir Viv Richards.
Clarke juggled bowlers, watched Shane Watson and Lee hobble off injured and cast eyes despairingly skywards searching for inspiration or rain. Neither was forthcoming.
The fact is these teams are a mis-match. Australia resemble those husbands that followed Richard Burton into matrimony with Elizabeth Taylor. They never had a chance.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west