What a joyous day it must have been in the fixtures division of the Cricket Research and Corporate Key Planning Office Trust (Crackpot). How they must have punched the air in triumph when one of their number hit on the idea, doubtless after a long brainstorming session.
"I know, after the Ashes is over let's play seven one-day internationals getting on until the end of September. We could go further and further north as the series progresses, so it's probably going to be played in Arctic temperatures by the time it finishes.
"Then the day after it's all over the teams could fly to the Champions Trophy in South Africa, where all the other countries have been acclimatising for a week. That should ensure that England have even less chance than they would have done, and it was never much, of winning the tournament and meeting one of the prime objectives of the England and Wales Cricket Board's mission statement."
This was met with a round of applause, the opening of a celebratory bottle of sponsors' grog and went through on the nod. Which is why, yesterday, England met Australia in the sixth and apparently penultimate match of this summer's NatWest Series. The home side entered it 5-0 down and even winning the toss on this occasion was beyond them.
They lost by 111 runs after a batting exhibition of ludicrous ineptitude, which left overs unused. England are bereft of confidence, strategy and common sense. They have not so much lost the plot as hurled it into the stratosphere, whence it may never be seen again. For this they can blame themselves to a large degree but the crackpot schedule is also culpable.
The proceedings have taken on a macabre fascination. England are now on the cusp of being the first side to lose a one-day series 7-0, there having been four previous 6-1 margins. The players of both sides are fed up at being involved in such a prolonged event and if they have to go to South Africa for a competition that is also not universally popular they would much rather be there now.
But England's malaise is suddenly deep and comical. Faced with making 297 to win, they lost Andrew Strauss unluckily when he was given out for edging a bouncer he expertly avoided. Rebuilding the innings after the subsequent loss of Joe Denly, Matt Prior and Ravi Bopara (the latter two both run out by Ricky Ponting, embodying the difference between the sides) was beyond them.
Prior was dismissed backing up as Australia's captain picked up, turned and threw as if in one movement. It was sensational. An over later Bopara and Owais Shah were mutually confused after Bopara seemed to call for a quick single then stopped as Shah flew past him, with dead-eye Ponting again hitting at the end to which Bopara was now forlornly running. It was laughable. Shah has now been involved in 14 run-outs in his one-day career.
Thereafter it was merely a case of seeing out the overs – or not. Australia's increasingly clinical approach is utterly at odds with England's chaos and was also rewarded yesterday by their return to the top of the one-day rankings. The tourists made 296 for 8, which looked as though it would be still more during the middle overs.
The innings was built on a partnership of 163 for the third wicket between Tim Paine and Mike Hussey, the highest for Australia's third wicket against England. Paine made his maiden ODI hundred and became Australia's third centurion of the series. England have none. Lest it be forgotten, Paine is Australia's second-string wicketkeeper and was in his seventh match.
The margin might have been uncommonly large but in the office of Crackpot it was exactly what they expected at this time of autumn by a touring side winning the toss in Nottingham.
Scorecard from Trent Bridge
Sixth one-day international. Australia won toss
S Watson b Anderson 4 9 balls 1 four
†T Paine c Prior b Mascarenhas 111 148 balls 14 fours 1 six
*R Ponting c Sidebottom b Anderson 6 14 balls 1 four
M Hussey c Denly b Swann 65 69 balls 3 fours 2 sixes
C Ferguson b Anderson 6 9 balls
C White c Denly b Anderson 35 23 balls 5 fours 1 six
J Hopes c Strauss b Sidebottom 38 22 balls 6 fours
B Lee run out (Anderson) 0 1 ball
N Hauritz not out 1 2 balls
P Siddle not out 8 3 balls 1 four
Extras (b 1, lb 7, w 14) 22
Total (8 wkts, 50 overs) 296
Fall: 1-19 (Watson), 2-40 (Ponting), 3-203 (Hussey), 4-206 (Paine), 5-220 (Ferguson), 6-273 (White), 7-281 (Lee), 8-288 (Hopes).
Did not bat: N W Bracken.
Bowling: J Anderson 10-0-55-4 (w2) (6-0-21-2, 1-0-4-0, 3-0-30-2), R Sidebottom 9-0-65-1 (w4) (4-0-23-0, 3-0-16-0, 1-0-14-0, 1-0-12-1), D Mascarenhas 10-0-49-1 (6-0-24-0, 2-0-14-0, 2-0-11-1), T Bresnan 9-0-60-0 (w3) (2-0-12-0, 4-0-25-0, 3-0-23-0), G Swann 10-0-48-1 (w1) (2-0-9-0, 4-0-25-0, 4-0-14-1), R Bopara 2-0-11-0 (one spell).
*A Strauss c Paine b Lee 0 2 balls
J Denly c Lee b Hopes 25 43 balls 3 fours 1 six
R Bopara run out (Ponting) 24 33 balls 1 four
†M Prior run out (Ponting) 6 8 balls 1 four
O Shah c Watson b Hopes 23 39 balls 1 four
E Morgan c Hussey b Bracken 23 28 balls 2 fours
D Mascarenhas b Hopes 11 20 balls 1 six
T Bresnan not out 31 38 balls 3 fours
G Swann b Bracken 12 15 balls 1 four
R Sidebottom b Siddle 15 16 balls 1 four
J Anderson b Lee 1 7 balls
Extras (lb 3, w 8, nb 3) 14
Total (41 overs) 185
Fall: 1-0 (Strauss), 2-45 (Denly), 3-59 (Prior), 4-60 (Bopara), 5-100 (Morgan), 6-114 (Shah), 7-125 (Mascarenhas), 8-159 (Swann), 9-182 (Sidebottom), 10-185 (Anderson).
Bowling: B Lee 8-0-48-2 (nb2) (4-0-26-1, 4-0—22—1), N Bracken 10-0-42-2 (w2) (1-0-6-0, 7-0-27-1, 2-0-9-1), P Siddle 8-1-22-1 (5-0-14-0, 3-1-8-1), J Hopes 9-0-32-3 (5-0-18-1, 4-0-14-2), N Hauritz 6-0-38-0 (w1nb1) (one spell).
Australia won by 111 runs and lead seven-match series 7-0.
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pak) & N J Llong Match referee: N L BaintonReuse content