Bichel and Bevan set stage for Lee's wrecking spree

Australia 208 New Zealand 112 Australia win by 96 runs

Although an inspired and at times unplayable spell of fast bowling from Brett Lee sealed a comfortable 96-run victory for Australia yesterday in Port Elizabeth, it was another shrewd and resourceful partnership between the two Bs that allowed Ricky Ponting's side to put their wee neighbours from across the Tasman back in their place. For Australia in PE it appears B+B+ a little bit of Lee = V.

The Bs of Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel should be well known to English fans because it was their unbeaten eighth-wicket partnership of 73 at this ground 10 days ago that ultimately knocked England out of the World Cup. And yesterday they were at it again against a New Zealand side who fancied their chances of causing an upset – which is something any Australian defeat would be right now. This loss for the Black Caps means they now have to beat India in their final Super-Six game on Friday to go through to the last four.

The unimaginable seemed a certainty when a magnificent spell of fast bowling from Shane Bond had reduced Australia to 84 for 7. Fleming and Bond are a partnership better known for 007 than skittling Aussies but Stephen and Shane – not Ian and James – were dealing with their enemies in similar style.

For the first half of Australia's innings everything Fleming entertained went right and his astute captaincy was backed up by the skill and hostility of his top gun. In his new ball spell of 3 for 20 Bond's pace and control made short work of the Australian top order. Better was to come for the 27-year-old policeman, however.

Feeling that New Zealand were allowing their good start to slip away Fleming called on his strike bowler to re-enter the attack and he duly obliged by taking 3 for 3 in four overs. In his second over Bond removed Damien Martyn with one that left him before trapping Brad Hogg plum in front next ball. The hat-trick was missed but in his next over he feng shuied Ian Harvey, re-organising his furniture with a beauty.

Going for the kill Fleming bowled Bond out and he finished with figures of 6 for 23, the best by a New Zealander in one-day cricket. That left Australia on 88 for 7 after 29 overs and an early beer appeared on the horizon. Bevan and Bichel had other ideas though and skilfully started the task of attempting to take their side to a competitive score. On a pitch offering help to all bowlers, Australia would have been happy with 160 at that stage.

In a team where showmen and superstars grab the headlines, Bevan and Bichel stand out for the quiet and unglamorous way in which they go about their work. Neither is a pretty cricketer but each knows his limitations and plays within them. Their commitment to the cause of winning games for their country stands out and this is just what they achieved.

Bevan's reputation and record in one-day cricket is outstanding, so match-winning performances like this can be taken for granted. They shouldn't be because this nuggety little left-hander from New South Wales is better at his job than anybody in the world. The tougher the situation, the more he thrives.

With Bond out of the attack and Bevan giving him plenty of advice, Bichel gained in confidence and it was he who became the more positive of the two. Against defensive fields the pair took the easy singles which were on offer and hit the bad ball for four, or six as the case was when a delivery from Andre Adams slipped out of his hand and bounced twice before reaching Bichel. The powerful right-hander gratefully deposited it in the crowd.

With 10 overs remaining Australia were only on 128 but this was the signal for a final onslaught which produced 80 runs. Both men passed 50, Bichel for the first time, before selflessly throwing their wickets away in the pursuit of quick runs. Lee finished the innings off in style by smashing the last two balls from Jacob Oram for six. As New Zealand walked off the ground, there was a sense that they had missed their chance.

This realisation increased when a fired-up Glenn McGrath took three early wickets. Chris Cairns came in, threw the bat and hit McGrath for a huge six but his sortie ended when he edged a drive at Bichel to Lee at third man. Fleming, meanwhile, was playing well and trying to hold things together but following his unfortunate dismissal – strangled down the leg-side – New Zealand capitulated to the pace of Lee, who produced three magnificent deliveries to mop up the tail thanks to a spell of 5 for 8.

Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there