England leave Ponting looking for excuses

As England supporters come to terms with the remarkable events of Monday evening, when Michael Vaughan's irresistible team pulverised Australia by the margin of 100 runs, it is worth assessing whether the manner of the Twenty20 victory will have any bearing on this summer's Ashes series.

As England supporters come to terms with the remarkable events of Monday evening, when Michael Vaughan's irresistible team pulverised Australia by the margin of 100 runs, it is worth assessing whether the manner of the Twenty20 victory will have any bearing on this summer's Ashes series.

If England go on to lose the seven one-day internationals they are expected to play against Australia before the first Test on 21 July, then probably not. But if Vaughan was looking for a performance which told the world champions that his side mean business, then this was it.

England's cricket was powerful and ruthless, and it took Australia by surprise. Kevin Pietersen showed no fear, along with a blatant disregard for reputation, when he went after Ricky Ponting's bowlers. And the treatment Andrew Flintoff handed out to Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, when he peppered the pair of fast bowlers with short balls, was delivered with the Test series in mind.

Flintoff's brutal approach may not quite have fitted in with the spirit of Twenty20 cricket but it left the Australians with little doubt of how England intend to conduct themselves during the next 13 weeks.

Australia would have wanted to make a statement themselves at the Rose Bowl. It would have gone some way towards making up for the defeat inflicted on them by England during the ICC Champions Trophy in September 2004, and reasserted their dominance over their fiercest rivals.

But they failed to achieve their goal, and it is Australia who arrive in Bristol for Sunday's opening NatWest series encounter against England feeling the pressure. This was illustrated by the fact that Ponting, surprisingly, made a couple of excuses for the incompetent performance of his side.

The Australian captain said the hectic nature of the game dictated his tactics, forcing him to introduce the spin of Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds earlier than he wanted.

But a look at the tourists' bowling figures suggests that this decision did not have a negative effect on the performance of his side. If anything it helped the tourists.

Clarke and Symonds took three wickets and conceded only 39 runs in the six overs they bowled. And if Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz had bowled in such a miserly fashion Australia would have been chasing a total of around 130, not the 179 that England set.

It was also interesting to hear Ponting state that he had changed the Australian batting order to give a couple of his players the chance of some much-needed time at the crease. What? In a 20-over game, when you are chasing nine an over? Come on Ricky you will have to do better than that.

But the most interesting comment was that the game was "just a bit of fun". Now I have been fortunate enough to play cricket at all levels in both England and Australia, and "fun" is not a word that I ever heard during matches Down Under.

In England, anybody can play cricket on a Saturday afternoon if they want to. But in Australia it is different. To play cricket there you have to be selected, and if you are not good enough then it is tough luck.

This is the first occasion in a long time that an Australian defeat has brought about such a reaction, and it suggests Ponting and his team-mates are just a little bit rattled.

During the recent one-sided Test series between England and Bangladesh many questioned whether the tourists should be playing cricket at this level. It was suggested that their presence cheapened the taking and scoring of Test wickets and runs.

Now, after watching Australia being shunted aside with such ease one has to question whether the performance of Ponting's side is beginning to threaten the integrity of Twenty20 cricket.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore