What a game in the end! Probably a bit tighter than Michael Clarke would have bargained on, but a great way to start the remains 7 match ODI series!
But the slow pace in the middle stages of the innings really proved to be critical, as the boys just made it to victory by 4 runs!
Shane Watson has continued his consistent streak and the soft dismissal came just short of what would have been another half-century to his recent string. But he didn't help Tim Paine in his second ODI, when Watto called for a suicidal run, which Paul Collingwood had all the time in the world to target all three stumps. So, more evidence of throwing away wickets, but Cameron White was so promising taking guard at number 3. It is refreshing to see better utitlisation of Cam higher up the order. He has had plenty match time, but he has been more frequent in the lower order, where you can only back yourself so much. So, yes, I think it is a good move to give him opportunities higher up the order, and it paid off. Except he was also run-out, resulting in two.
Callum Ferguson was yet again the anchor in the middle order! Fergal ended with 71*, his highest score in limited overs cricket, as he went beyond his previous best of 63 (Newlands, Cape Town).
Himself and Michael Clarke were very patient, and the going was very tough out there in the middle stages. England's bowlers were used well to keep the momentum low, but while Clarke may come under fire for his relatively slow innings, it was a very needed innings, while Ferguson kept rotating the strike with some good usage of some soft hands to angle the ball to the third man region, whipping the ball to the mid wicket region, and playing confidently down the ground. Another fine innings from Callum! His temperament is what we need, and as a young man still, I believe his technique is solid - while not extravagant - and I reckon if he can deliver a good season of Sheffield cricket for the Redbacks, he has the future with a Test match debut!
James Hopes and Michael Hussey made valuable contributions too, and it was good too see Huss back in the Green and Gold, looking alot more relaxed out there, but it was a brilliant delivery from Ryan Sidebottom to dismiss him. But, it was a very important partnership between Huss and Callum of 47 runs, and James Hopes contributed strongly in his brief time at the closure of the innings. He nearly did his neck in badly when his helmet got grounded in the wicket when he raced for a single!
I think the bowling will improve. It was the first time in a while Nathan Bracken was getting match-time, Brett Lee is just adapting to his game again (after so much focus on Test cricket, and the frustration there, it is an adjustment to the 50 over game) and James Hopes has also been out of the mix for a while.
Nathan Hauritz delivered a good spell, where he picked up two valuable wickets! He has that knack in ODI cricket to get 2 or 3 crucial wickets, and his defensive tactics are suited to our rebuilding stages.
Mitchell Johnson was actually extremely accurate last night, and the pace he was generating worked well in tangent with Brett Lee. The Owais Shah dismissal was a given though!
While the bowlers may have been very expensive in some tense moments of the game, and probably are well short of their best, they were very well backed up by some committed fielding!
The boys gave every boundary save 100% effort, and the catches were sharp - Shane Watson's catch to end Collingwood's night - and it was a major contributing factor to our victory!
Tim Paine has a bit of a tough time, but he had a stumping and a catch to his name! It's important to keep an eye on his cricket in this series, as he will be the man behind the stumps during the Champions Trophy with Brad Haddin recovering from his finger surgery.
1-0 to the Green and Gold, but I reckon most of you would be in agreement that the bowling was far from impressive, but it's only the 1st match, and the victory, like any victory, gives us some needed momentum.
I am also particularly pleased with the ambition and high intensity I am seeing from the boys. Their are signs of the old Australian aggression out there, and even better is too see Mitchell Johnson quite happy to give it back to the crowd when he gets it to go his way.
The next game is tomorrow, and Michael Clarke will be very pleased to have another victory to his Captaincy, but the need to lead the team to victory tomorrow and ultimately the series, will seal alot of confidence for this younger team as we approach Champions Trophy!
Slightly off-topic, but I see Sachin Tendulkar proposed a 25-25 split innings in One Day cricket, so each team has two innings' to make-up the 50 over mark. It is a good concept, but I can't agree with Sachin on this one. Maybe worth discussing at a later stage the pro's and con's of this proposal, but I think it is tampering too much with tradition, and from a spectators perspective, I think most people enjoy the spectacle of an innings progressing, seeing the scorecard build from 0, to a target for the team batting second, to have to chase down in the given conditions. Good concept, but I'm not sure.
I think Twenty20 has caused too much panic to International cricket.
As Sachin said, Twenty20 is like dessert. It has it's place on the menu, but who wants to just have dessert! Good analogy!