After England’s first victory of the series at County Durham, the crowd at Old Trafford were treated to an entertaining and thrilling match which went right down to the wire. Going into the dead rubber, changes were expected from both sides but yet again England were sticking to their rotation at NO3 as Malan re entered for Clarke whilst Sam came in for Tom in the Curran brothers swap. Australia made 3 changes as Hobart Hurricanes left arm spinner Clive Rose was handed his international debut in for Zampa whilst experienced Peter Handscomb replaced Stoinis and exciting and blistering wicketkeeper batsman Alex Carey in for Aaron Finch.
Australia won their first toss of the series and elected to field which looked to have been the right decision when Stanlake removed the basher Hales for 2 caught behind by Paine. In the chop and change position at 3, Malan needed to cement the position for his own good and the good of the fans as the selectors continue to make puzzling choices for England. He started brightly and quickly overtook Bairstow at a fast scoring rate with quick running between the wickets the key. Bairstow was fairly content with keeping Malan on strike at first but had had enough which curtailed his innings as an attempted ramp off Richardson was failed and he was trapped in front. The imperious Root joined Malan at the crease looking to bring on the Australia’s lack of fifth bowler as soon as possible but the latter left England stumbling at 3-49 as Tye executed a perfect slower ball yorker bowling Malan for 22.
Australia were keen to attack this crucial partnership which was diffident in the previous match which prompted the front line bowlers to have extra overs in a bid to run riot through the middle order. Morgan and Root had other ideas on a pitch where boundary hitting was tough to score from. After playing themselves in, Root and Morgan accelerated and took on debutant Rose and off spinner Maxwell in a bid to unsettle Australia’s lack of depth without Stoinis, scoring boundaries without pressure. With both passing half centuries and Morgan aiming for the ton, a change of attack by captain Paine allowed unusual fielding positions for Maxwell including two short midwickets and a leg gully and the latter position dismissed Morgan for 79 with an outstanding catch by Shaun Marsh to break the 143 run stand. A shift in momentum had taken shape as Root fell to Stanlake for 69 looking to upper cut the bowler but found Rose at third man.
The mini collapse didn’t deter England as Stokes and Buttler put on a 124 run stand to lift England above 300 into a competitive score. Both batsman played entertaining and exiting strokes with Stokes playing sheer brute shots in comparison to Buttler’s controlled slogging. 82 was hit off the last 10 overs including a Buttler onslaught but the momentum was back into Australia’s favour with the last 3 going for only 10 in tight death bowling from Tye. England would be pleased with their efforts again finding form in their middle order from their more dangerous and top scoring batsman but Australia would be feeling confident to chase 323.
Short’s bowling ability gained his spot in the side ahead of the rested Finch and he was joined at the top of the order by exciting batsman Alex Carey. The left hand pair began nervously especially between the wickets as Woakes and Stokes took the new ball to good effect. But it was the running that cost Short as his racing start was halted by a direct hit from Hales in a dodgy single. Handscomb was brought into the side and came into Lynn’s position at 3 but his stay was short as Stokes found swing to get him leg before for 1. With Australia teetering at 2-26, centurion Lynn joined inexperienced Carey and soon began to settle into the job in hand with Carey showing his potential and class through his hitting. The new ball pair were seen off before Carey played Rashid the best out the Australian batsmen throughout the series. The 100 run partnership was up soon enough alongside Carey’s maiden half century. Sam Curran proved ineffectual much like his brother throughout the series and in the game as Lynn and Carey picked him off at a canter.
However, Plunkett utilised his extra pace and bounce to effect dismissing Lynn for 61 caught on the boundary by Rashid. Shaun Marsh came into the 5th ODI hoping for some runs to cement a future trip however Plunkett’s in swinger fooled him and he was bowled for 6. Run machine Glenn Maxwell capped off a mini collapse as in the next over Stokes found his edge for a golden duck through to Bairstow. Australia were cruising at 2-171 but with Maxwell’s dismissal they found themselves at 5-180 with Carey stranded in the 90s.
Momentum had swung once again into England’s favour but Captain Paine was determined not to succumb to the pressure and smashed the ball through all parts of the ground. Carey reached his triple figures citing a massive celebration but soon he was gone LBW to Woakes for an almost run a ball 103. Richardson was promoted to 8 where he showed his potential with the bat alongside Paine and scored 13 before Rashid mopped up his front pad. Rose is not generally known for his ball striking but he soon gave a glimmer of hope with 2 boundaries through the leg side. All hope seemed to be lost when Paine’s electric 39 came to an end dismissed by Sam Curran leaving the Australians 8-250.
Rose and Stanlake needed boundaries quickly and through fortune and somewhat good batting, it came! Rose targeted Rashid to the leg side hitting 2 maximums over deep midwicket whilst Stanlake knocked the ball around with 3 maximums and suddenly the chase was on! But, Rashid strung a killer blow into Australian hearts as the debutant Rose was caught well by Root at slip for a great 36 leaving 12 to win as AJ Tye strolled to the crease. After two singles and a near run out, Tye edged past third man for 4 leaving six required off the last. Sam Curran bowled 3 dot balls at Stanlake, an unusual sight in Big Billy’s knock, before bowling a slower bouncer picked by Stanlake and sent far into the crowd for the Australian win! 41 off 23 in an innings that will be remembered more than Carey’s amazing century, led the Aussies to a narrow yet ecstatic victory.
An amazing victory snatched from the jaws of a defeat typifies the courage we showed throughout the series and 4-1 whilst some games were closer the score line reflects our whole team and their contributions. D’Arcy Short and Aaron Finch seamlessly opened together with Carey slotting in fantastically in the Final ODI whilst Lynn, Maxwell and Paine made vital runs as Tye amongst others lead with the ball. Our all-round ability led us to a dominant victory as England will be rightfully angry and disappointed at a poor series with only individual contributions particularly with the bat to look at positively. Their bowling attack was wayward but the indecision comes from the selectors above who have received slack for their chopping and changing.
We face England next in a one off T20I before heading off to Pakistan and Zimbabwe for a T20I Tri Series in June and July. Be sure to revisit the site to see the progression of the Australian team in Cricket Captain and the other topics coming up on the website!!