England beat Australia by 100 runs
England slaughtered Australia by 100 runs in the first Twenty20 international played in this country in front of a 15,000 crowd at the Rose Bowl last night.
It was an astonishing match in which the wildly-excited crowd watched in disbelief as, replying to England's 179 for eight, Australia were 67 for eight - and that represented a huge recovery from 31 for seven.
The slump was the result of ten overs of mayhem, thanks to Darren Gough putting himself on a second hat-trick in 48 hours on the same ground, debutant Jon Lewis taking four wickets for 24, and three catches in two overs from man of the match Kevin Pietersen. All that produced a middle-order run aggregate from Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Damien Martyn, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey of precisely five.
Only a 36-run stand for the eighth wicket between Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee averted total disaster.
Everything went England's way with catches sticking and the one dodgy decision of the match doing for Clarke.
How best to assess the rout? Slap and tickle cricket? Nearly. Were the Aussies caught stone cold at the start of a long tour? Definitely.
That said, England had the tactical drop on the tourists and played decent cricket throughout, and had the advantage of most of their players having experienced the format at county level, whereas the Aussies were knocked off their feet by the pace of everything.
Both captains were quick to play down the significance of the result in the context of the rest of the summer, but it must have pleased England's Michael Vaughan that the homework Ponting and his management reportedly do before each game - no matter the format - was non-existent.
Ponting lost the plot after he was forced to bring on part-time spinners Clarke and Symonds for the wrong reason. Regular spinner Brad Hogg were left out, but the visitors' over rate was so poor that they had to use spin or suffer the penalty of six runs for every over not completed in 75 minutes.
Pace off the ball is the key at the Rose Bowl with average scores in the county Twenty20 competition around 150.
Yet, when Paul Collingwood set about helping England to recover from a midinnings slump in which they lost the wickets of Pietersen (34 off 18 balls), Vaughan to a golden duck and Marcus Trescothick for 41 off 37 balls, Ponting unaccountably made a double bowling change.
His two slow bowlers had taken the three wickets and each had an over to bowl of their four-over quota. Pacemen Lee and Gillespie had been slogged everywhere, but back they came to give Collingwood (46 off 26) the chance to smash 70 off the last six overs in devastating partnerships with Andrew Strauss and Vikram Solanki, and when was the last time the Worcestershire captain batted at number eight in one-day cricket?
Figures rarely lie in cricket - especially in this brutal format.
The combined figures of Lee and Gillespie were 7-0-80-1, whereas Symonds and Clarke shared 6-0-39-3. It was novice-type captaincy.
Australia had a target of 180 which made England overwhelming favourites, providing they bowled with discipline.
Gough is having a golden summer and bowled like a man in top form. Gloucestershire's Lewis is an old-fashioned seam bowler, maybe short of pace at top level but he knows what he is doing, and the Australian top order were plucked and trussed in four exemplary overs.
The shorter the race, the more likely an upset. Conversely, the longer the race the more likely the favourite will succeed. What England can take out of the walloping was their high energy level, and the fact that their interaction with the crowd makes them a keen and bubbly side.
The first One-Day Triangular game between the two sides is at Bristol on Sunday and that will tell us a lot more. Before then England are entitled to savour what they did and how they did it on the south coast yesterday.