England's progress in the Champions Trophy came to a shuddering halt last night. It met Australia’s refuelled and perfectly honed juggernaut travelling at full tilt in perfect conditions.
The difference between the sides was nine wickets and a world of class and raw determination.
“We had a different sort of aura and energy about us today,” said Ricky Ponting, the captain of Australia who made his 28th one-day century to ensure there could be no remote opportunity of his opponents reaching the final of the Champions Trophy on Monday. “We pride ourselves on standing up in big games and it’s up to experience players like me to lead from the front.
“I have told the boys that every ball we face, every ball we bowl, every ball we field we have got to show 100 per cent commitment. We lost that a bit in the Pakistan game but got it back today.”
Ponting targeted this tournament. He used the one-day series against England purely as a way of peaking for the Champions Trophy.
“I said at the beginning of that series that we wanted to improve every match. We have been talking about getting to a level where we need to be in big games, We have been talking about this since the start of the England series.”
Ponting, who became the first Australian to reach 12,000 ODI runs, said he had been feeling pretty good. “It’s about being in control at the crease and since I got from my little break at the end of the Ashes I have felt in control most of the time.
For Strauss it was an unfortunate end to the series. England’s progress, while tangible, was put fully into perspective by a team who knew how to peak.
“We were definitely keen to go out and play our shots on a very good wicket and unfortunately it didn’t come off for us today,” said Strauss. “If you live by the sword you die by the sword and it’s frustrating because when you lose six wickets on that sort of surface you’re always struggling.
“Tim Bresnan played exceptionally well and Luke Wright supported him so we weren’t completely out of the game at the halfway mark but I thought it was a 300 par wicket and we were quite a lot light. We needed three or four early wickets which we weren’t able to get them.”
He rightly defended England’s manner of playing which was disrupted by some fast bowling of high quality, p[rovoking rushed strokes.
“Any time you play a shot and it doesn’t come off you can be criticised,” he said. “As a template going forward we have got to keep playing our shots, We have got to get better at our skills so the percentages are moré in our favour. I think it was refreshing to see the guys going out and expressing themselves, There’s obviously a case for playing the conditions a little bit better.” I feel as though we have made progess. We were really excited about playing Australia today. They were good too for us.” They certainly were.