Harmison turns heat on jittery Australia

Australia 196
England 196-9
Match tied

Australia have not become the best team in the world on the back of errors like this, and Ashley Giles' scampered two to third man - was it leg byes? Was it runs? Should he have been given out leg before? Who cares? - allowed Michael Vaughan's combative side to tie a remarkable game of one-day cricket.

Yet Lee was not the only member of Ricky Ponting's side who appears to be struggling to cope with the pressure England are putting Australia under. Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, in bowler- friendly conditions, gave Australia the perfect start to Saturday's final when they brought up the tourists' 50 inside seven overs. But with England's bowlers at their mercy, both batsmen played diabolical strokes.

Australia have become accustomed to steam-rolling sides, and the wild hacks of Hayden and Gilchrist were the acts of players desperately attempting to impose themselves on a team that is not prepared to take a backward step. The magnificent Stephen Harmison was slightly fortunate to strangle Ponting down the leg side but these three wickets suddenly placed Australia on the back foot.

It was the same when England batted. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee gave England's selectors plenty to think about before the first Test but having reduced the hosts to 33 for 5, the world champions were once again unable to finish off an opponent. In the Tests there is no limit to the number of overs McGrath can bowl, and Australia have a certain leg-spinner to come on and make the most of his early work, but credit should go to Geraint Jones and Paul Collingwood, who changed the course of the game with a superb 116-run partnership.

In demanding circumstances, the pair battled hard and kept their cool. Each had a fair amount of good fortune, but this was needed on a pitch offering assistance to the fast bowlers. Yet neither player panicked about the rising run rate. Forty-six runs were added in 20 overs, and they had the confidence to wait until the 30th over before taking control.

"We have played some good cricket," acknowledged Duncan Fletcher, the England coach. "I believe we have bowled really well but the most pleasing thing is that we have managed to recover from situations that we previously would not have got out of against Australia. This is a huge positive. We could and probably should have won the final, but we also didn't lose it, and that was pretty crucial considering our record against Australia in the last four or five games.

"It was also important to see little aspects of their cricket changing. We won little battles out there. It was interesting to see the Australians in huddles trying to make decisions, which we haven't seen before. We also saw an Australian batter protecting a team-mate from the strike, and some of their guys showing concern about the lines and lengths our bowlers were bowling."

Privately, Fletcher may have worries about the form of England's top order, but he has every right to feel optimistic about the bowling. Harmison and Andrew Flintoff have been outstanding throughout the tournament, and Australia's batsmen will not be relishing the prospect of facing this pair in the Ashes series.

Both are uncomplicated, with a simple method. They make the most of their height - each is over 6ft 5in - and attempt to hit a good length hard. In conditions like those on Saturday, any half-decent fast bowler should have been a handful. But it is on flat pitches where these two come into their own, and the bounce they extract will continue to unsettle Australia.

Honours could not have been shared more evenly during the NatWest Series, but the teams will play three further limited-over matches before the Ashes.

The NatWest Challenge, which starts on Thursday at Headingley, will offer one of these teams the opportunity to gain a psychological advantage before the first Test, and the side which achieves this could be the one that makes the most of the new regulations.

England will announce its 15-man squad this morning and on Thursday Michael Vaughan will be able to call on the services of a substitute. The England captain will also be in control of when he wants to employ 10 of the 20 overs when fielding restrictions apply.

"Every aspect of the new rule changes is going to be interesting," Fletcher said. "Selection will be very difficult, and implementing the substitute, or when to use the fielding restrictions, will become very tricky. This makes it very exciting. After the first 15 overs captains didn't have to think but now they do."

It will be fascinating to see which type of cricketer is used as the substitute, and the change has caused England to add a 15th member to their squad. Chris Tremlett, who came into England's 14-man NatWest Series squad as cover for Simon Jones, looks set to replace Kabir Ali.

England NatWest Challenge squad: (probable): M P Vaughan (c), M E Trescothick, A J Strauss, K P Pietersen, A Flintoff, P D Collingwood, G O Jones, A F Giles, S P Jones, D Gough, S J Harmison, V S Solanki, C T Tremlett, J Lewis, I D Blackwell.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?