Crikey! Strewth! Australia Day is always an unpleasant spectacle, and this year was no different, with England losing five wickets for eight runs in 38 deliveries at the start of their innings. The words of Invasion Day protest organised Tarneen Onus-Williams echoed around the floodlit Adelaide Oval that evening: “F–k Australia. Hope it burns to the ground.”
Smith took in the air and decided to bowl first. Hazlewood and Cummins, Starc-less for the first time in the series, exploited the humid conditions to swing it both ways on what is typically a good bowler’s wicket. Jason Roy, whose 180 at Melbourne was England’s highest ever ODI innings, was the first to fall, driving Hazlewood to Smith at point.
The opening overs were wearily reminiscent of the opening session from the final day of the second test, at the same ground — bleary late-night optimism giving way to the comfort derived from an underwhelming familiarity. From the other end, Cummins got the ball to dart back through Hales’s defence. Still, at least he had made 3 — Roy, Bairstow, Root and Buttler would not be so prolific, with each departing for a duck.
Bairstow, impatient to crack on with scoring, nicked one behind off a good length, before Root mis-judged a hook, spooning the ball to Cummins on the boundary. Buttler soon followed them back into the hutch, Hazlewood finding the outside edge from a tentative prod. Within seven overs, and with no prospect of a snowstorm, the Australian openers had wrapped up a consolation victory.
The run-rate was more like a Test match, or perhaps an early one-day international from the 1970s, when sides regularly posted 220-3 from 60 overs, and of which Chris Tavaré played 29 matches — the kind of player in fact that the Test side lacks. Pat Cummins picked up the Player of the Match award with his figures of 4-24 from ten overs (including two maidens), and his third broke the tentative stand that Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali were beginning to put together.
The pair had seen England through to drinks at 35-5, with Moeen scoring the first boundary of the innings in the 15th over, a crunched drive that bisected cover and mid-off, and followed that up in the last ball of the over with a pull shot. But Morgan has now not scored fifty or more in eight innings, and he squandered the chance of a solid captain’s innings when he danced came down the pitch to hook a short ball from outside off-stump. The ball missed bat but not glove, and Morgan departed for a 33, having still not quite settled.
Chris Woakes — the thinking man’s Ben Stokes — was the first man to exert any authority on the innings. He took it to the change bowlers Mitchell Marsh and Andrew Tye, and gave the depressed and sunburnt England supporters a lift when he belted five sixes in the course of his 78, before perishing chancing a sixth. Ali (33) and Tom Curran (35) played supporting roles, allowing themselves something to bowl at, the match in critical condition but still medically alive, Tye and Cummins wrapping up the tail for 196 from 44.5 overs.
It was Woakes who made the breakthrough in Australia’s reply, taking the All Important Wicket of David Warner™️ in the fifth over, and were it not for Travis Head’s 96 at the other end England might have mounted a serious challenge. He hit Mark Wood for three consecutive fours in the following over, and in the context of Cameron White and Steve Smith falling cheaply for 3 and 4 respectively, arguably played a match-saving knock. Mitchell Marsh and Tim Paine built small but important partnerships around him. Adil Rashid picked up three wickets for 49 from his ten to keep the dreamers interested, but Head had already taken Australia far enough when he dragged Wood to Morgan at mid-on – four runs short of what would have been his second ODI century, but only 17 runs from the target. Cummins was the instigator of a run that his partner Paine couldn’t get behind, to leave Australia seven down with twelve to get.
Australia were 95 per cent certain to win the game for 95 per cent of it, and denied England a seventh consecutive ODI win with Tye hitting the winning runs from his opening ball. A good length from the Australian opening quicks bodes well for their upcoming tour of South Africa. For England, their maiden one-day whitewash downunder will have to wait.