Cricket: Australia fall to Mullally's spell

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ALAN MULLALLY once again proved England's lucky charm at the Gabba as they got their one-day campaign off to a winning start yesterday.

The Leicestershire paceman, who had to customise a pair of basketball boots in order to take the field, proved the difference with a match-winning spell of 4 for 12 in 27 balls as England won a thrilling match by virtue of a faster run rate in a rain-affected match - the first of the Carlton and United triangular series.

His performance followed his Test figures of 5 for 105 in the opening Ashes Test on the same ground in November, and he took three wickets in 18 balls in last Friday's win over Queensland. No doubt Mullally would like to set up camp at the Gabba instead of jetting around Australia for the remaining matches.

In addition to his wickets, the Leicestershire man claimed a tricky boundary catch off Damien Fleming, managing to hold on despite slipping.

"Conditions suited me out there and I just did my job," added Mullally, who was not included in England's original 37-strong World Cup party.

"The ball I got Adam Gilchrist with was meant to go away and it came in. I didn't know what was going on, and I'm sure they didn't. It just worked out well for me in this match. I didn't think the ball would do that much."

England posted what looked to be a fairly modest total of 178 for 8, after which Australia's target was reduced to 153 in 36 overs by the rain delay. "I thought it was a good score on that pitch. Our attitude was that if we bowled well and fielded well we would win," said Mullally.

Australia's stand-in captain Shane Warne gave England another confidence boost with the World Cup coming up in the summer when he said: "I think England have got a pretty good one-day side. They run in and keep trying, and I think we are in for a good tournament. I thought we bowled and fielded sensationally. Everything we tried came off. But when we batted, we kept losing wickets."

England were meeting the world champions Sri Lanka today, hoping to build on their flying start to the competition.