It's one thing to lose the series, but to see it just slip away like that after a courageous fight back from the boys, that you won't see from many other teams, it was encouraging. But the fact remains that we've lost the series, and as a result we will be punished by hearing the English commentary Brains Trust not shut up about the McGrath/Warne era.
One thing that finish did show us is that once you get England's main momentum force knocked over, it's rather straight forward from there, then again we did have an addition. That addition was Shaun Tait who nearly put us back on the map for the series.
Atleast we also saw the One Day cricket is still exciting when given minimal scheduling.
BATTING: 212 all out, SR Watson 61, TD Paine 44
This total was terrible and during a chat on Twitter I mentioned we'd need a bowling miracle to pull us out of this one. It nearly camw true. But the frustration I mentioned in the article title is that from game 1 to 3, our batting has been following the same pattern but just gotten marginally worse. Tim Paine and Shane Watson once again put together a strong opening stand to set our batsman up really well to follow on. They then got out cheaply yet again. From there the middle order collapsed and we depended on some desperate scrapping from our lower order. 212 just isn't good enough and it was agreed upon by many that in order for us to claw our way back into this series, we needed runs on the board. These bowlers needed something to defend, something that would give them confidence. Our batsmen only made their job harder.
A lack of momentum was the main thing I can see. The general scoring rate was alright, it was good enough to get total's of 170+ with wickets in hand, but our momentum was the issue. It was the same in each game, accelerating rapidly up top, then falling apart in the middle while the lower order were left to try speed things up and as a result leaving settled batsman with too much on their plate. It was the same thing.
Shane Watson has been doing a great job. You could say that he's not going on from fifty with an effective enough result, but the fact is he is doing his job. Getting the runs on the board at the top of the order and doing it the way he does business. The only thing wrong with Watto's game is that he's gifting away his wicket to the English bowlers.
Tim Paine has been on and off but is supporting Watson as the two of them put together another fifty run stand together. He opened up nicely against Tim Bresnan with some aggressive batting.
My concern lies with our leaders. Ricky Ponting is concerningly out of touch while Michael Clarke just looks totally lost with his limited overs game. It's not even the Strike-rate with Pup, it's that his flashy, ambitious attitude is gone and he looks out of place. Punter just needs to get a damn good innings behind his name because he's clearly not going to be getting there with easing the ball around. He'll back himself though and will know better than anyone how he can correct this.
It also shows how important he is to the team when he is in form and how we still need runs from him.
Cam White and Michael Hussey have shown a similar importance to Punter. We have been heavily reliant on the two of them time and time again, in both T20 and ODI cricket. Huss has been exposing his stumps to the spinners and his timing seems a bit off in this series. I'm surprised he wasn't bowled in the first two games. I watched some footage from the first two games, it is something England came out looking to accomplish from the start of his innings in game 3. They are looking and getting it through the gap he's leaving between bat and pad when playing back to the spinners. He's such an important part of our ODI team but it shows how we struggle a bit without that injection of confidence from Huss' batting abilities.
Bottom line is our batting has been a concern. Without the runs we wouldn't have won and it's all been proven. Our batsmen will know it all too well.
BOWLING: England 9-214, DE Bollinger 3/20, SW Tait 3/28, SPD Smith 2/34
First off, Shaun Tait was terrific! He was called up to the side and delivered a brilliant spell of bowling. I like the way his spells get spaced out. It's a great tactical move from Punter and it worked well. Taito came into the side relatively fresh from T20 cricket and immediately got stuck in on the action to strike some fear into England. 'The Wild Thing' bowled Kieswetter up top and then displayed some good reflexes to get Kevin Pietersen caught and bowled.
His bowled with good pace but what has really impressed me is the control he shows. His action compared to the 2007 World Cup footage I have is so much smoother. He delivered an outstanding performance upon his call-up. He certainly gave us a boost!
Doug Bollinger was a beast at the end with the ball in hand bowling both Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann. He gave us that hope after Shaun Tait and Steven Smith began a potential collapse for England.
Steven Smith bowled very well also. He gave the ball good flight and wasn't showing any fear out there. The wickets came to him in the end. In the field he is still highly energetic and a joy to watch. Our bowlers gave it their best shot, but Tim Bresnan was a pain with the bat against us again as he edged the first ball of James Hopes over for four runs. Game over. So close, but frustratingly not enough.
The fact is, taking our score of 212 away, to derail England like that was something special and atleast we know these bowlers are capable of winning a game for us if we have something good on the scoreboard.
There's two games left to try rectify these issues. It is a concern to us as supporters. I can honestly say I knew this series would be tough, I don't know exactly why but it was a gut feeling and having a look at the bowling stocks it just seemed we'd need to play extremely well to grab that early momentum in the series. The guys can pull it all back together, they can come out and win these two games. But our batsmen need to perform, we need one guy to raise his bat for his century or atleast have our top 5 contributing valuably.
I won't get into any further negatives as this has already been a depressing write-up.
I'm still backing the guys to take the last two games. It will still be difficult though.
After that bowling effort at the end, it's good to know somewhere there's still that 'never give in' attitude in these players. Time for it to really come out!
Shaun Tait deserved his break. He's had a rough journey and to see him back in the Green & Gold at ODI level was exciting. He delivered a good fast bowling spell to make his mark.
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