Cricket Captain has arrived and I will be taking on the role as Australian head coach and Selector in a time of turbulence leading the Aussies in all 3 formats (Test, ODI and T2OI). Starting in the summer of 2018, Australia embark on a 5 match ODI series against England away followed by a one off T20I. Join me on a rollercoaster ride to restore some faith and pride back into the national side as well as winning some games (hopefully)?
Following the Sandpaper incident in Cape Town, Darren Lehmann stepped down from his role as Coach and Selector and opened the door for rookie Jamie Hamilton to take over in a challenging situation with the aim to bring back Australian love for cricket. With the bans to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft leaving them unavailable as well as frontline senior players in fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc due to long term injury, the Aussies were depleted and fresh faces were required to replace them. Tim Paine will captain and keep for the side with Hobart Hurricanes duo D’Arcy Short and Clive Rose called up for their impressive form for their domestic sides. Added to that, inexperienced players like Jhye Richardson, Alex Carey and Billy Stanlake have the chance to don the cap for their second time whilst power hitter Chris Lynn finds himself in the squad. WA duo in Mitchell Marsh and Ashton Agar were left out by Hamilton in a bold move to add experience with inexperience with Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh completing the stocks. A youthful Australian squad (in terms of caps) needed to prove themselves on the big stage for future competitions and the upcoming World Cup in 2019. England chose both Currans and left out Jason Roy and Mo Ali in their starting XI.
After losing the toss, Australia were sent out into the baking hot Oval and didn’t start brightly with Bairstow and Hales targeting young speedster Jhye Richardson in the powerplay. England were going at a rate of 9 and 10 an over come the end of the powerplay and continued in that fashion for a little while yet. It took a deceptive slower ball from Tye to dismiss Hales for a brisk 51 to slightly lift the spirits to break the opening partnership. Malan, on debut, showed patience at 3 and slowed down the scoring rate in fact contributing to his dismissal with ambitious running seeing D’Arcy Short, on debut, running him out. With a variety of bowlers being chopped and changed, Zampa impressed and maintained his end economically picking up Root for 27. A promising partnership begun between Bairstow and Morgan but as both neared milestone, up step Marcus Stoinis to create havoc. He first picked up the dangerous Bairstow for a superb 95 and then swiftly followed working his magic to dismiss Stokes for a golden duck, with an even better catch by Paine. The aggressive natured pairing of Morgan and Buttler were at the crease to revive England out of trouble but Stoinis continued his rampage and the mini collapse was complete with Morgan departing for 44 also caught by Paine.
England just didn’t recover from their middle order collapse with the dangerous Buttler dismissed by the variation bowler Tye for 5. Rashid and Sam Curran on debut, fell to Tye for 1 and 0 respectively bowled looking to attack in the final overs. Stanlake got in on the action dismissing Tom Curran for a duck with a smart catch from Lynn to leave Woakes stranded on 19 and England all out for 290. After being 3-263, England lost 7-27 in a spell led by Stoinis and backed up ably by Tye and Stanlake. A very good latter half to the bowling innings from Australia brought them back into the game!
Australia’s new look opening partnership in Short and Finch began electrically with new ball bowlers Tom Curran and Ben Stokes hammered to all parts of the ground. 91 was brought up after the 10th over with Short in particular going aerial with Finch playing some classical shots for 4. England made their breakthrough at 1-98 as Finch was bowled by an in swinging delivery from debutant Sam Curran for a fantastic 57 from 46 including 10 boundaries. Short took the mantle from Finch and with Lynn looked to target Curran and leggie Rashid in an aggressive manner. Short brought up his maiden ODI 50 on debut with a glance onto the onside but fell soon after a 91m six off Curran, aiming to sweep Rashid but got a top edge to Sam Curran.
Left hander Travis Head began a more patient knock with boundaries and rotation of the strike blending in with Lynn’s counter attacking style. Nearing 50, Lynn went for one shot too many and fell to Sam Curran in front for a well made 41. Head was soon dismissed to Rashid caught on the boundary by Malan for a productive 28. Maxwell and Paine led the charge to the victory in a 101 run partnership with attacking shots a plenty. Maxwell brought up a swashbuckling 50 but it was Paine who finished the job with a four to win the match by 6 wickets with 15 overs left. Australia finished with a very high run rate taking all bowlers out of the ground in an imperious victory to begin the Aussie winter.
With the current predicament of the cricket in Australia, we played fantastically well to provide a comeback in England’s innings with a super 7-27 eliminating the attacking middle order. We then continued the momentum with an aggressive nature at 9-10 per over with the loss of only 4 wickets and plenty of pleasing scores. We head off to Cardiff from the 2nd ODI, looking to repeat our heroics with the aim for a 2-0 series lead going into the crucial 3rd ODI. The team are humbled by the renewed support and look to continue their winning start. Be sure to revisit the site to see how the rest of the series plays out!