ODI series: Alastair Cook fails to score once again, but at least there's some relief for England

Cook was walking back to the pavilion within the first over but Ravi Bopara stares with the ball to earn 172-run victory

There is a long, if broken, tradition of matches between the Prime Minister’s XI and the tourists in the Australian capital. Things have changed a bit and not only because the Manuka Oval now has floodlights which resemble giant oars.

In the 1958-59 meeting between the PM’s side and the England tourists, still known as MCC in those halcyon days, one of the umpires was the cricket correspondent E W Swanton. The chances of a cricket reporter being asked to do the job now would be about as likely as Sir Matthew Pinsent lifting out one of the floodlights and using it to row to Olympic glory.

Back then Robert Menzies, who was a cricket buff, still occupied the official PM’s residence in Canberra, The Lodge, and Swanton was also the unofficial chairman of the England selectors. That, too, has changed.

Some things have not. England came to Manuka 55 years ago, 3-0 down in the Ashes with one to play – which they also lost eight days later. Still Jim Swanton is smiling like the cat with the cream in the official photograph which hangs in the pavilion.

This England, the Ashes already long since lost, will be pleased to have squeezed in the fixture, though it comes in a busy week of plane and hotel-hopping. It offered them the chance to win for only the second time on this tour and that is something they desperately needed after five consecutive Test defeats. They have lost seven consecutive internationals and are hot on the trail of their record of 10, set both in 1993 and 2001.

In the event, it was quite the formality. The tourists did not have it all their own way in assembling 264 for 8 but it was more than plenty for the PM’s throng, who were bowled out for 92 in 26 overs.

This Prime Minister, Paul Abbott, fielding his first such team, had some trouble raising it because of the demands of the Big Bash, something Menzies did not have to deal with. His side, for instance, included Ray Lindwall, who was about to play in the fifth Test.

Much more of this, however, and they will be calling for Abbott’s resignation. Contentious right-wing policies are one thing, picking losing cricket teams quite another.

England threatened to make a mess of it until their middle order put the world to rights in front of a happy, hot full house. Alastair Cook’s wretched tour continued. He was out for one in the first over, edging a lifter behind (a sentence cut and pasted from other previous dispatches from this tour). That this one came from the veteran speed merchant Brett Lee, who still paws the ground at the end of his run at the age of 37, will not have eased  the pain.

It will turn again for Cook. It must. But just for the moment, a long moment as it happens, he is short of runs and confidence. Somehow, he is remaining cheerful if resigned. He is probably walking out to bat at present knowing there is a ball coming up with his name on it.

The other day he said he needs a little luck for it to come right again. Luck is often overlooked in cricket until you have run out of the stuff and only then do you realise that you cannot dash to a 7-11 store, of the type which are on every street corner in Australia, and buy a new supply.

England, who might have been taking it all too lightly, were pulled from their reverie by Gary Ballance and, particularly, Jos Buttler. Ballance made a well-ordered 50 to follow his 79 in the opening  one-day international on Sunday, placing the ball assuredly on a slow outfield.

If there is an element of flavour of the month about Buttler, he impresses with each visit to the crease. He had a good Big Bash with Melbourne Renegades before joining the England squad and is in form. The ball stays hit when Buttler strikes it, which he does to some unexpected areas.

But he batted with calm sense yesterday, eschewing some of his boldest manoeuvres, though he could not resist one elegant scoop and a beautiful reverse hit. Still his 61 came from 60 balls and included only four fours. He runs the runs too. It always looked far too many for the opposition. So it proved.

Chris Jordan and Boyd Rankin made some early inroads and when James Tredwell persuaded Brad Hodge to pull him into the hands of deep midwicket, that was that. Ravi Bopara tidied it all up with four wickets in 17 balls for three runs.

It may make a difference to how they tackle Australia in the second ODI on Friday. Or it may not.



peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam