Gough leads charge as rampant England teach Aussies a lesson

England 179-8, Australia 79; England win by 100 runs
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The Independent Online

Before everyone gets too carried away with England's remarkable 100-run victory over Australia, and begins re-mortgaging their houses to have a wager on Michael Vaughan's side regaining the Ashes, this was only a 20-over game of cricket. But the manner of last night's emphatic win, which was achieved during an extraordinary 20 ball-spell that saw Ricky Ponting's side lose seven wickets for eight runs, will have done wonders for England's confidence after a match where almost everything went right for the home side.

Before everyone gets too carried away with England's remarkable 100-run victory over Australia, and begins re-mortgaging their houses to have a wager on Michael Vaughan's side regaining the Ashes, this was only a 20-over game of cricket. But the manner of last night's emphatic win, which was achieved during an extraordinary 20 ball-spell that saw Ricky Ponting's side lose seven wickets for eight runs, will have done wonders for England's confidence after a match where almost everything went right for the home side.

In this frantic, shortened form of the game, teams have no time to gather their thoughts during a crisis, and every time an Australian hit the ball in the air, it went straight to an English pair of hands. A pumped-up Darren Gough led the charge in front of an ecstatic crowd of 15,000. In his second over he dismissed Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden with consecutive deliveries but missed out on a second hat-trick in three days as Andrew Symonds let a short ball strike him.

The former Test star was given inspirational support by Jon Lewis, who took 4-24 on his England debut. The 29-year-old claimed the wickets of Michael Clarke and Symonds in just his second over.

With Australian batsmen coming and going quicker than planes at Heathrow airport, the crowd were going wild - 24-4 became 24-5 when Mike Hussey edged a catch to Andrew Flintoff in Gough's next over. Ricky Ponting drove Lewis to Vikram Solanki at extra cover, and by the fifth ball of the sixth over England, unbelievably, were already into Australia's tail.

Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie attempted to mount something of a comeback but both fell to Paul Collingwood. And England completed a memorable evening when Steve Harmison bowled Glenn McGrath.

Those who feel that a 20-over slog on a Monday evening will have no bearing on the Ashes overestimate the self-belief of cricketers. That a player is only as good as his last performance is a cliché but it is true. McGrath may have 499 Test wickets but even he will take last night into his next game.

And had Harmison walked away with Lewis's or Gough's figures he would have left Southampton yesterday evening feeling even more pleased with himself than he already is.

In the build-up to the match England stated that they wanted to have wickets in hand during the final five overs of their innings but following the first boundary, which Marcus Trescothick edged through fourth slip, Geraint Jones decided to get after the bowling. After striking Lee for two fours, Jones turned his attention to McGrath. The England wicketkeeper pulled the paceman for two fours but fell when he top-edged a drive to third man.

Flintoff walked out to a standing ovation but on this occasion failed to provide them with the pyrotechnics the crowd was looking for. The England all-rounder scored a brilliant century here against Sri Lanka in last years Champions' Trophy but he chipped his fifth delivery to Andrew Symonds at midwicket.

But the crowd's distress did not last long. If anything the cheer that greeted Kevin Pietersen's arrival was louder than Flintoff's, and the Hampshire man did not let his new fans down. Michael Clarke helped kick-start Pietersen's innings when he let a four through his legs on the cover boundary.

Shane Warne has spent the opening two months of the season playing in the same team as the England one-day star, and in the build-up to these matches the legendary leg-spinner - who has retired from limited-over cricket - would have briefed Australia on his strengths and weaknesses.

But there is little any bowler can do with a batsman possessing the ability to hit good length balls down the ground for four or six. And this is just what Pietersen did to Michael Kasprowicz and Gillespie during a blistering 18-ball innings of 34. The first of these boundaries came when Kasprowicz was driven imperiously over mid-off for four. Gillespie did not intimidate Pietersen, who then struck the fast bowler back over his head for a huge six.

Yet the most imposing blow came in Kasprowicz's next over. The right hander hit the ball so hard back down the ground that it nearly pole-axed Trescothick backing up at the non-striker's end. The England opener hit the deck attempting to avoid the ball but it still clipped the brim of his helmet before racing to the boundary.

Pietersen, attempting to treat the left-arm spin of Michael Clarke in a similar style, holed out at deep backward point and this caused England to go through their only wobbly spell of the match. Michael Vaughan chipped his first ball to mid-wicket and a watchful Trescothick swept Andrew Symonds to the safe hands of Mike Hussey at deep square-leg. With the scoreboard reading 109-5 England looked like falling short of a competitive total.

But Paul Collingwood showed that there is more than one way to score runs in this form of the game. The right hander's 34-ball innings of 46 contained a couple of hefty blows but most of his runs were accumulated via intelligent flicks and sweeps. For the last decade Australia have been teaching the world but after this display they would be advised to watch a video of Collingwood's innings.

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