Where, many in this country and in Australia may be wondering, has Aaron Finch been all summer? He has yet to play Test cricket, but given the problems Australia had at the top of their order, a player who hits the ball as cleanly and as far as the muscular 26-year-old Victorian did here might have been well worth a gamble.
Only once before has an international T20 crowd seen a hundred scored as quickly as Finch scored his, off 47 balls, in front of an open-mouthed Ageas Bowl. Had he not decided to pick up a few singles in the nineties, he would surely have obliterated Richard Levi's 45-ball record for South Africa against New Zealand in 2012.
But Finch was just warming up. The previous record for the top score, Brendan McCullum's 123 for New Zealand against Bangladesh, also made last year, was passed in the 16th over, and his 150, which came up off 60 balls, included 14 sixes – another world record.
Red-ball cricket on a less blameless pitch is of course a very different challenge, and by all accounts Finch, who has played seven one-day internationals and now six T20s for his country, is still considered to be some way off Test class. By the time he chopped a Jade Dernbach delivery on to his middle stump, however, he had hit 156 off 63 balls and, to some extent at least, he had redefined the art of the possible.
After the England captain Stuart Broad had put Australia in, Finch started as he meant to go on, hitting the first ball he faced, delivered by Steve Finn, 20 rows back into the stand at square leg.
His fellow opener David Warner went early, throwing away his bat as well as his wicket when he top-edged a pull at Broad. But Finch was to hit three more maximums – the second an extraordinary shot flayed over point on one knee off Dernbach – in going to his fifty off 26 balls.
Joe Root was hit for three sixes and two fours in his single over, but spin or pace came and indeed went alike. Shane Watson was barely noticed but he thumped 37 off 16 balls as Australia racked up the second highest international T20 score after Sri Lanka's 260 for 6 against Kenya in 2007.
England lost wickets early in their response and there was no way back from 37 for 3, though Root remained unbeaten on 90 off 49 balls and shared a stand of 95 with Ravi Bopara, who made 45. The young Yorkshireman steered his side towards 200 at 10 an over, but after Finch's brutality the cause was always forlorn.