Well the boys missed the 7-0 whitewash target by a fairly dull performance with the bat, but 6-1 is a brilliant victory for the series, considering the rather dreadful summer in England!
Dreadful in the results, yes, but as for the actual cricket, there has been some terrific cricket from both teams, but for the One Day series it was the Green and gold pretty much all the way!
Cam White was awarded man-of-the-series due to his early impact in the series with the bat and his maturity shown when he stepped into the number 3 role in Ricky Ponting's absence. He fielded well in the slips, and even in the only Twenty20 that had any action he made a half-century followed by some more powerful contributions in the 50-over games, included a cracking maiden-century! Under the circumstances with the Ashes in mind and the series still open for either team to claim, Cam stepped up with his opportunity and having been in the lower order on and off, getting 7 games in a row will pick up his belief in his place within the team.
It was a tough call for man-of-the-series as it has been predominantly based on a team-effort as opposed to notable individual efforts, which has been a pattern to many One Day series bloopers over the last few months. Each player had a moment where they stepped up significantly and contributed to a victory which is especially pleasing as the team is looking more like a compatible unit where the squad both experienced and new to the order are knowing their role!
Graeme Swann delivered a match defining spell where he picked up 5 wickets where we struggled to pick away at him, and ultimately mis-cued shots and some nip off the turf saw the better batch of our batsmen fall.
Punter played another fine innings today. I don't know whether the pressure from Michael Clarke's slow scoring at the other end maybe pushed him to try target Swann in his early overs, but it was another fine knock from the Maestro!
Strong on the off-side, never shy to pull away at anything short, it is exciting to Punter back in the groove, and I hope this rhythm carries on into the Champions Trophy!
Punter scored his 27th century in One Day cricket in this series which was the innings of the series where I saw a flash of master-class intensity I have not seen from him in ODI cricket for a long time now. He's ended on a personal high, with some more youthful like spirit in his fielding efforts. The dead-eye throws are still there!
Michael Clarke has the stats with the bat and has made the runs when needed, and not to forget that he lead the team extremely well in Punter's absence. However it seems his improvement in Test cricket and his maturity in that arena has maybe merged with his One Day game a bit in terms of his strike-rate. He has built some match-winning innings' based upon slow starts with partnerships in mind, but it has also at times seemed to just increase the pressure. No use pointing fingers at him because he has also contributed strongly to the series win and he has stated it himself that his strike-rate is an issue to address. So with 2 wickets down early I understand why he took his time, but the way Punter was moving at the other end, when he was caught it maybe put Pup in a spot of bother as he was run-out soon after.
After that not much went too well. Michael Hussey continued his strong form in One Day cricket and pretty much watched the destruction unfold around him. Wicket by wicket Swann chipped away at us, while Huss kept the ship sailing. Rather gutted he was caught on 49, with 1 wicket left, 1 run short of fifty and in the power-play, but 176 all out was rather crumby none the less! So great to see Huss keeping his head up, but it was a tough score to defend, and didn't give the bowlers a good chance to give us the 7-0 round-up!
We needed early wickets, but it didn't happen. Brett Lee was really good. In 10 overs he was only hit for 33 runs with 3 maiden overs! Only 1 wicket, but that's what we need from Binga, with the other guys building upon the pressure he can put into the oppositions game.
Extreme pace and extreme attitude, that's what we dig about Binga! Yet he is a great sportsman, a great bloke and it's a boost having him back in the squad. If guys like Bracks, Sid's, Mitch and even Hilfy can feed off the energy he brings to the bowling it will be a hungry pack of bowlers for the wickets, with the right man in charge.
Nathan Hauritz has been stealth like in this series but he has been effective. The bowlers have ultimately been the backbone in ensuring our victories were there as they broke down the English batsmen's confidence match by match, and even in the 7th ODI they managed to do this too, but with such a low score to defend it was going to be tough after the start the openers made.
Speaking of Nathan Hauritz he dismissed Andrew Strauss again! Classic! That the 6th time?
I'm happy to have seen a strong team effort, and I like the energy in the team.
Tim Paine has made a good start to his International career. He has good temperament for Tassie in any form of the game, and having been thrown into the deep end this series he has stepped up well. Like Cam White he scored his maiden century this series, and it was a really good one too. He held the fort walls and played an innings where he just stayed true to his game. In Brad Haddin's absence and the difficulty for any Keeper who is in the shadows of the regular Keeper, he has shaped well to his responsibilities and while lucking out in the final game, his wicket-keeping has been tidy, sharp and he took his catches. Very good work from Painey!
Callum Ferguson was rested for the final game, but contributed strongly and is proving to be a big element to the core of the middle order. He adapts with ease to the match situation and is not shy for a few innovative shots here and there. I'm proud to see how he has kept his cool and stepped into the International scene from the Redbacks. Hopefully a lot more to come from Fergal, and he has to play in the Champions Trophy. He is quick to adapt to the conditions and he had a good series in South Africa.
The top order will need to gel a bit better, but I am sure that Shane Watson will have a better time at the top of the order in the Champions Trophy. I guess he needs to with Shaun Marsh and Brad Haddin out of the picture. Both himself and Tim Paine made a considerable number of starts in a fairly conservative manner so all they have to do together is capitalise on their starts!
James Hopes did well, while he is not the type of bloke to deliver eye-opening performances, he does his job in a stealth-like manner at the best of times with the bat, predominantly the ball.
With the strength of the team it may be a bit tricky to have a set starting XI in mind.
For example I just mentioned James Hopes. He has performed well, maybe lucked out here and there with the bat, but his spot is always going to be on the fence with the flexibility the One Day squad has. There are options for openers (Voges, Hopes, Hussey and Clarke), guys who can fill the void for any middle order issues that may arise and bowlers too, including Mitch who can bat a bit!
So heading over the South Africa I am feeling pretty good about this squad's chances.
I won't lie to you. Now all of you who have been reading my Chirps for a while will know I am at time rather optimistic, but I can honestly say a few months back I would have been quite concerned about our One Day team being a threatening sude in the Champions Trophy had it been held in Pakistan, but we have taken some time to rebuild the ranks, and this series has proven a lot to the onlookers.
Our pool is a tough one, not to mention that the playing field is evened out, but the Champions Trophy is a cut-throat series where a few fatal slip-ups result in an exit ticket from the tournament, so after all the momentum the boys have established in this series it would be a major waste to throw it away! I also hope they aren't too fried after the long English summer...as in a lengthy series, not the actual UK summer.
But, I feel really good about our chances, but have your final chirps for the series, and we will discuss the Champions Trophy prospects very soon.