England produced their best bowling display of the winter at a floodlit Gabba yesterday yet they still failed to gain their first victory over Australia. Michael Hussey guided the world champions to a four-wicket win in a low-scoring game with a classy unbeaten 46, but the result could well have gone England's way had the left-hander been given out on 19.
Australia were 53 runs away from England's disappointing total of 155 when Hussey edged James Anderson through to the keeper. Anderson dismissed Cameron White in the same over to leave Australia reeling on 108-6 but Hussey, the best finisher in one-day cricket, was the man they wanted to remove most. The player they call "Mr Cricket" looked like a guilty man as Andrew Flintoff's side vented its frustration before, with the help of Brett Lee, taking Australia past their target with 11.2 overs of the match remaining.
England's batting, with the exception of Flintoff, Jamie Dalrymple and Mal Loye, who scored an enterprising 36 on his debut, was dreadful. The line-up failed to show the application and skill required to score runs against a high-quality bowling attack on a pitch possessing pace and bounce.
"It is obviously disappointing when you lose but I was pleased with the way we came out and played in the second half of the game," said Flintoff, England's stand-in captain. "I can't fault the effort of the lads. They threw themselves about in the field and gave it their all. In Melbourne we batted all right and in this game our bowling was excellent. If we could get the two together it would be great."
Flintoff refused to be drawn on the decision that probably cost his side an unexpected victory. "There are decisions that could go either way in every match," he said. "You always want to get Hussey out because he is a good finisher. He seems to have taken over Michael Bevan's role for Australia. I don't want to say any more about it but you've seen the replays and you can make your own conclusions." Jon Lewis claimed career-best figures of 4-36 yet it was Anderson, with 2-29, who was the pick of England's bowlers.
Anderson troubled all of Australia's batsmen with his pace, skill and aggression. The 24-year-old had Brad Hodge brilliantly caught in the gully by Dalrymple and trapped White in front with a beautiful away swinger.
Arrogant Australian batting presented Lewis with at least two of his wickets. Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden were caught slogging on the deep square-leg boundary, Andrew Symonds carelessly edged a wild shot to the keeper and Michael Clarke was caught down the leg side. But, even so, Lewis bowled enough balls in the right area to deserve his success. Flintoff and Chris Tremlett failed to strike but each made life uncomfortable for the Australian batsmen.
England looked set to post a competitive score when they passed 50 in the 11th over. Loye, flown in from New Zealand to act as Michael Vaughan's replacement, provided England with the type of start the captain or Andrew Strauss cannot give them.
Loye is renowned for slog-sweeping bowlers of any pace over deep square leg for six and this is just where Lee was deposited in the fifth over of the day. Then, just to show that the shot was no fluke, he pulled the fast bowler for four.
Glenn McGrath replaced Lee and his first two balls were hacked for four by Loye. The assault unsettled McGrath and the Australians, but the fun ended when Loye edged a lifter from Nathan Bracken to first slip. It may be a trifle early to suggest that Loye should go to the World Cup in March, but his brief innings proved that he can compete with the best, and he provides extra options at the top of the order.
The dismissal initiated a collapse that resulted in England losing 5-19. Strauss was brilliantly caught by Hodge at mid-wicket, an unconvincing Ed Joyce edged to the keeper, Ian Bell was farcically run out and Paul Collingwood perished to a beauty from McGrath. England's lower order battled but the batting had a resigned look about it. If they had added another 30 or 40 runs an elusive first victory over Australia could well have been theirs.
Scoreboard from Brisbane
England won toss
A J Strauss c Hodge b McGrath 18
M B Loye c Hayden b Bracken 36
I R Bell run out 10
E C Joyce c Gilchrist b McGrath 5
P D Collingwood c Gilchrist b McGrath 0
*A Flintoff c Hodge b Lee 27
ÝP A Nixon c Hayden b Lee 9
J W M Dalrymple c Johnson b White 31
C T Tremlett c Gilchrist b Bracken 8
J Lewis c and b Bracken 1
J M Anderson not out 4
Extras (lb3 w3) 6
Total (42 overs) 155
Fall: 1-52 2-56 3-70 4-70 5-71 6-93 7-118 8-141 9-145.
Bowling: Lee 10-0-53-2; Bracken 9-0-24-3; McGrath 8-1-24-3; Johnson 8-1-32-0; Symonds 5-1-14-0; White 2-1-5-1.
*ÝA C Gilchrist c Anderson b Lewis 8
M L Hayden c Anderson b Lewis 19
B J Hodge c Dalrymple b Anderson 0
M J Clarke c Nixon b Lewis 36
A Symonds c Nixon b Lewis 4
M E K Hussey not out 46
C L White lbw b Anderson 5
B Lee not out 20
Extras (lb5 w9 nb4) 18
Total (for 6, 38.4 overs) 156
Fall: 1-26 2-30 3-35 4-48 5-93 6-108.
Did not bat: N W Bracken, M G Johnson, G D McGrath.
Bowling: Lewis 10-2-36-4; Anderson 10-3-29-2; Flintoff 9.4-0-45-0; Tremlett 9-0-41-0.
Australia win by four wickets
Umpires: D J Harper (Aus) and I L Howell (SA).Reuse content