In October/November 2016 I bought tickets for every England v South Africa test, then came the announcement that AB de Villiers wouldn’t be playing. I bought myself a ticket for 4 of the England v Australia ODI’s in 2018 at a similar time of year, then, out came the sandpaper and out went David Warner and Steve Smith, then came the news that Mitch Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins were all injured. So. 5 key Australians not in the team. I’m feeling slightly jaded with England themselves, so this has been an added blow. As much as I’ll enjoy getting to know the new Australian players, it’s cost me a lot of money to watch in effect a virtual second team.
Moan over and on to the actual cricket. Tim Paine as the new captain had made it plain things would be different in this series, he and his team started as they mean to carry on, coming out as a team to shake hands with the England players, it was very refreshing.
My seat for the day was in Row 8 of the pavilion, and quite literally directly behind the bowlers arm, you’ll see that gave me limited options for photos, but I took plenty regardless.
It was a surprise that Paine elected to bat after winning the toss, and it proved to be to England’s advantage. Travis Head lost his wicket in the 2nd over as he hit a ball from David Willey to Jonny Bairstow, Australia were 7 for 1.
I’d seen Aaron Finch score 114 at the Oval on a white ball game last summer and was expecting good things from his again. But, the start of a spell from the English spinners saw him depart, caught by Mark Wood from the bowling of Moeen Ali. He’s scored only 19 and Australia were 47 for 2.
With Moeen and Adil Rashid in tandem Australia were in some trouble and Sean Marsh was bowled by Moeen for 24, Tim Paine was caught by Wood from the bowling of Moeen. I’m a big Moeen fan, it was good to see him in the wickets, and to a degree, good to see Australia fall to 70 for 4. I say to a degree, I’d really hoped to have a full day of cricket at the Oval.
My photos are a bit higgledy piggledy, apologies if they make no sense! I’d been pleased to see Marcus Stoinis in this team and hoped for some explosive batting from him, but no. he couldn’t face spin either! This was the Oval, not India, but, the spinners were running through this line up, Adil Rashid had Stoinis caught by Jos Buttler, back behind the stumps for this game. Australia were on 90 for 5 and in some trouble.
I wrote an article about my favourite cricketers last summer, the absence of 2 of my Australia picks, Smith and Warner, meant the 3rd is likely to be in this ODI set up for a while. Enter Glenn Maxwell, well he had come in at 6, and he was now joined by Ashton Agar.
Ashton Agar on debut, in the Ashes in 2013, scored 98 runs from 101 balls batting eleventh in Australia’s first innings, breaking several Test records, including first player to ever score a half-century as a number eleven batsman on debut, highest score by a number eleven batsman, and, with Phillip Hugues highest partnership (163 runs) for the tenth wicket. He didn’t feature much after that time, but was awarded a national contract for the 2018/19 season.
Maxwell and Agar put on a partnership of 84, with some very fine batting. Maxwell bided his time against the spinners and scored 62 from 64 ball, including 4 fours and 2 mighty sixes. I’d have been happy to see him score a century, but he hit a ball from Liam Plunkett out to the boundary occupied by Jonny Bairstow, who took a very good catch. Naturally I was watching it, not taking a photo! Australia had moved to 174 for 6.
Agar had impressed with the bat, making 40 from 62 balls, but, he was caught plumb LBW by Rashid, he didn’t question the decision, and his innings was over.
At 193 for 7 Australia didn’t have much resistance left, Andrew Tye made a useful 19 after Michael Neser had been caught by Joe Root from the bowling of Plunkett for 6. Kane Richardson was also caught by Root, for a duck, but from the bowling of Mark Wood. Australia finished on 214, a much higher total than had looked likely at 90 for 5.
What could the Australia bowlers do, what would the England batsmen do? Well, the England batsmen would try their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Billy Stanlake, an imposing figure, standing at just under 6ft 9, playing in only his 3rd ODI struck an early blow for Australia, sending Jason Roy’s light up bails flying. Roy was out for a duck and England were o for 1 (in English cricket speak).
Alex Hales joined Jonny Bairstow, he lasted 10 balls before being trapped LBW by Michael Neverand England were 23 for 2. This wasn’t quite going to plan for England!
There were 2 Yorkshire batsmen at the crease, this one day team includes 5 Yorkshire players, leaving their county without a lot of experience in the Royal London One Day Play Off the following day, which they subsequently won! However Bairstow wasn’t there for the long run, he was caught by Travis Head from the bowling of Kane Richardson for 28 of the 38 runs England had on the board.
A stand was needed and Joe Root and Eoin Morgan were the men to provide it, with men can be a delight to watch when they find their form, they put on 115 taking England to 153 and a good way to the required total. Morgan was caught by Paine from the bowling of Andrew Tye. Morgan had contributed 69 from 74 balls and England were 153 for 4.
It felt like England would now cruise to a win, but no, they like to keep their fans on the edge of their seats, and two quick wickets after a further 10 runs had been added gave Australia a glimmer of hope. Jos Buttler had been let off the hook by a very strange drop from Paine, who rushed to take the ball, seemed to have the ball, which then bounced out of his hands. But Richardson held on tight to give Tye his second wicket with Buttler out for 9.
The Australian bowlers were going well. and Stanlake took the wicket of Joe Root in the next over. Root had made 50 and England were 163 for 6, things were getting tight.
Moeen Ali and David Willey were the 2 new batsmen. Willey had played a couple of Royal London Cup games for Yorkshire and scored 131 and 71. The pair had a partnership of 34, with Moeen scoring 17 from 17 balls before being caught by Darcy Short on as a sub.
England were on their way to a winning start and we were back to 2 Yorkshire men, Willey and Liam Plunkett. They made the required runs with 6 overs to spare, Willey ended with 35 Not Out and Plunkett 3. Moeen Ali with his 3 wickets and quick fire runs was Man of The Match.