Gilchrist gears up for Ashes by shattering England's morale

England 228-7 Australia 229-2 (Australia win by eight wickets)

With the Ashes now only a week away, this was a disastrous result for the morale of Vaughan's side, who will want to forget the way they have twice been dismantled by Australia in the last four days. Indeed, if Sir Clive Woodward, the Lions coach, were in charge of England's preparations, he would already have been on the phone to Paul McKenna.

Adam Gilchrist has been threatening a major innings against England, and his brilliant unbeaten 121 allowed Australia to stroll past the home side's total of 228, and win the NatWest Challenge with 91 balls to spare.

Vaughan, predictably, played down England's performance but Australia's celebrations highlighted how important it was to win this match.

No bowler escaped punishment but Stephen Harmison was given special treatment by each Australian batsman. The man who will front England's quest for the Ashes was smashed for 81 in 9.5 overs.

In this sort of form, and on a perfect batting pitch, bowling at Gilchrist is a horrendous proposition. The left hander grips the bat at the top of the handle and fearlessly goes after the bowlers. He swings hard at the ball, and when he connects it flies to all parts of the ground. Gilchrist struck 17 boundaries and two huge sixes in his 11th one-day hundred, and England's bowlers will be grateful for the fact that he bats at seven in Test cricket. At least by then they will have been able to set their radars before he strides out to bat.

Defending 228 was always going to difficult for England's bowlers, and the task was made harder once Vaughan had been forced to substitute Simon Jones with Vikram Solanki. For the third time in four games, England's top order perished and on 93-6 they had little option but to replace a bowler with a batsman.

The strategy worked, as Kevin Pietersen and Solanki added 93 for the seventh wicket. England's selectors meet today to pick their squad for next Thursday's first Test, and Pietersen's diligent 74 will have done his chances of playing at Lord's no harm at all. The powerful right-hander played responsibly during the first half of his innings before once again displaying just how destructive he can be.

Solanki gave Pietersen excellent support and without their efforts England's defeat would have been even more embarrassing. During his 84-ball innings, Pietersen strained a groin and the sight of him limping off the field four overs into Australia's reply will give the England selectors even more to think about before they name their squad.

England's failure to cope with Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz, bowlers who each know their role in the team, is a real concern. The batsmen have looked short of ideas and in the Test matches there is no restriction on the amount of overs they can bowl.

Lee is the spearhead and it is his job to take early wickets. The pace of the man from New South Wales has unsettled England's openers and Marcus Trescothick's upper-cut to third man was the shot of an apprehensive batsman. It gave Lee his 200th one-day wicket.

McGrath offers consistency, and even on a bad day he is competitive. But yesterday he was at his metronomic best. The lanky paceman started his day's work with four consecutive maidens, and this should have earned him the wicket of Vaughan.

McGrath's immaculate control provides batsmen with the ultimate quandary - do they allow the 35-year-old to continue pitching the ball on a good length, or do they get after him?

Vaughan chose the latter yet his top-edged pull at McGrath's 28th delivery should have been caught by Jason Gillespie at fine leg. Gillespie has had a miserable start to his tour and when he grassed the simple chance one feared for his bowling. But the fast bowler responded in splendid style, taking 2-21 in an excellent eight-over spell from the Pavilion End. Kasprowicz, who provides support for McGrath and Lee, is the bowler competing for Gillespie's place in the Test team. And he should have claimed the wicket of Andrew Strauss in his second over. Strauss, like the England captain, attempted to pull his way out of trouble and the top-edge flew high in the air over the keeper. It was a catch Gilchrist would expect to take 19 times out of 20 but he, too, fluffed it.

Yet neither player made the most of Australia's greasy fingers. Vaughan added six before a direct hit from Ponting in the gully ran him out, and Strauss gave Gilchrist the opportunity to redeem himself in Kasprowicz's fifth over. Strauss has now scored just 152 runs in eight innings against Australia this summer.

Andrew Flintoff quickly followed to the same combination but it was Gillespie's wickets which gave the tourists the greatest pleasure. After dropping Vaughan, four or five Australian players came over to the 30-year-old to offer encouragement. It was a move which brought derision from many in a capacity crowd of 23,500, but it showed the togetherness of the visitors, and it worked.

Gillespie's accurate bowling kept England's batsmen under pressure, and he thoroughly deserved the wickets of Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones. The departure of Jones, who was caught cutting at third man, allowed a substitute to play his first significant role in a one-day international.

It surprised many that Simon Jones was the player to make way for Solanki. The Glamorgan fast bowler has looked a far more dangerous proposition than Darren Gough in these matches, and substituting him seemed a bit of a cop-out. Telling Gough, in what could be his final game for England, that he was to be substituted may not have been a pleasurable task, but it was one that should have been made.

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

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US