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.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little