In yet another rain-affected game Australia were embarrassed by their hosts at Old Trafford this evening as England completed a 4-0 series win over next season’s Ashes counterparts and took their winning streak to ten consecutive matches. England remain unbeaten in the ODI format this year after drubbing Australia by seven wickets on the Duckworth Lewis method in the fifth ODI.
The words “lethal bowling” and the name “Ravi Bopara” are seldom seen in the same sentence but Bopara’s figures read like a strike bowler this evening as the part-timer was the pick of the bowlers with his 2/8 from four overs that wrecked Australia’s middle order in the final ODI in Manchester this evening. Bopara’s overs were part of a spell of five overs from England that saw four wickets fall for 12 runs and put paid to Australia’s chances of putting up a competitive total in this dead rubber. Some late hitting by George Bailey (46 off 41 deliveries) took Australia to 145/7 in 32 overs, which was a fine recovery from 86/6 in the 22nd over, and his innings gave the visitors something at which to bowl. When the in-form Ian Bell fell for four runs in the first over of the chase it suddenly looked as if we may have had a humdinger on our hands and when Jonathan Trott was dismissed for 10 in the tenth over England were 34/2 and Australia would have felt they were still in with a shot at regaining some pride on this tour. But a gutsy captain’s knock from Alastair Cook (58 off 78 deliveries) yet another authoritative innings from man-of-the-match Ravi Bopara (52* off 56 deliveries).
The Mancunian faithful stuck it out in full force as they happily sang in the stands despite the miserable 12-degree temperature, on-and-off rain and arctic breeze across the famous old ground that currently resembles a showpiece in evolving stadium architecture with its scaffolding around buildings old and new and some higgildy piggildy structures in between. It might be grim up North, but they do love their cricket.
England needed a 5-0 whitewash of Australia in this series to top the ICC ODI rankings and gain bragging rights in both Test and 50-over cricket but the washout at Edgbaston last week denied them that opportunity.
The 4-0 win puts them a fraction behind Australia on the table but there can be no doubt as to which side will feel they have the ascendancy. It was the first occasion Australia have lost 4-0 to England and may represent their worst showing ever in an ODI series against any team. This series was a good opportunity also for these two sides to have a look at each other before next summer’s Ashes series and the Australian coach Mickey Arthur will board a plane “home” to Australia this week with far more questions than answers about how his side are to go about their quest to win back the Ashes. Their batting was dismal and their bowling even worse as they used 12 bowlers over four matches and took only 13 wickets.
Adjectives used to describe Australia over the past fortnight might include listless, toothless, embarrassed and directionless. England have been consistent, organised, prepared and superior in every facet of the game. Most cricketers seem to revel in thrashing Australia in cricket and and one can’t help but wonder if Kevin Pietersen has suffered a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) after he prematurely retired from international limited overs cricket.