Australia's painful and shambolic tour of England ends in T20 defeat
Australiaâs pain is finally over. After six defeats in as many matches against England in a fortnight, concluding with this 28-run T20 loss in Birmingham, they will be relieved to see the departure gate at Heathrow.
Reputations may have been restored off the field in Australiaâs first tour since their ball-tampering shame in South Africa earlier this year, but on the field they have been a shambles, England following up their first-ever 5-0 series whitewash in the one-dayers, with another dominant performance in this one-off T20 international.
Batting first, England posted 221 for five thanks to a record-breaking half-century from Jos Buttler in his first innings since moving to the top of the order in this format. Buttler was man of the series in the recent ODIs and his 22-ball fifty here was the fastest by an England player in T20s, beating the record held by Ravi Bopara.
It fully justified the decision to promote a player who had hit an Indian Premier League record five successive half-centuries for Rajasthan Royals earlier this year and Buttlerâs contribution helped set Australia 222 to win. They never looked like getting there despite a fine 84 in 41 balls from captain Aaron Finch, England dismissing Australia for 193 in 19.4 overs.
While Englandâs one-day cricket has rapidly progressed since the last World Cup three years ago, their record in the shortest format has been poor since they reached the final of the 2016 World T20. Before this, they had won just five of 14 matches then and had lost both matches against Australia in last winterâs Trans-Tasman Tri-Series. The tourists on the other hand had won their last six completed T20s and are ranked second in the world.
They have a slightly different set-up in Twenty20 cricket, with Finch captaining the side and Big Bash stars DâArcy Short and Alex Carey the backbone of a powerful batting line-up that also includes Glenn Maxwell. They also gave a debut in this match to leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson.
This match and the three T20s that follow against India are a great chance for England to regain their mojo in a format that is tailor-made for their power hitters. They were given an early chance to show what they could do when Finch won the toss and asked Eoin Morganâs team to bat first on a belting Edgbaston batting wicket.
They got off to a flying start as Roy and Buttler let loose, helping England to 56 without loss after four overs. That included a chastening introduction for Swepson, whose first over in international cricket was taken for 16.
Kane Richardson fared even worse, the right-arm seamerâs first over of the going for an eye-watering 23 runs. Richardson then had a shocker in the sixth over, dropping Roy on 27 at long-off. By the time Buttler brought up his half-century, the scoreboard had moved onto 83 after 6.5 overs. Carnage.
Australia, and Swepson, found some relief in the ninth over when Buttler hit the young spinner to deep midwicket. He had made 61 from 30 balls, including six fours and five sixes. England were 95 for one with 11.1 overs remainin g. Four balls later they were 108 for two when Roy was caught top-edging fast bowler Billy Stanlake.
Swepson struck again in the 12th over, Morgan caught playing a reverse lap, his team now 132 for three. It was a great platform for England and a 72-run stand between Joe Root and Alex Hales took the scoreboard past 200 in the 18th over.
Englandâs record T20 total of 230 was within sight but progress was checked when Marcus Stoinis took a superb return catch to dismiss Hales on 49 with the first ball of a 19th over that only went for nine. That meant 18 runs were needed from the final over for England to break their record. They didnât get them as Andrew Tye bowled superbly, conceding only eight from an over that also saw Root run out on 35.
Australia had chased down 243 against New Zealand back in February. But they slipped to 33 for two early in their reply when Short was caught off Liam Plunkett in the third over and Jordan bowled Maxwell in the next with a clever slower ball.
Spin had been Australiaâs kryptonite during the one-day series, with Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid taking 24 wickets between them. Moeen took just two balls to strike here, Travis Head picking out long on, Australia now 64 for three in the eighth over. They were 72 for five in the ninth when Rashid struck twic e in three balls to remove Carey and Stoinis.
Finch, reaching his half-century in 27 balls, was not about to give up. But by the time he reached that landmark his side needed 114 runs from 49 balls. That became 78 from 36 after Finch took the 14th over bowled by Moeen for 22 runs. But when Rashid struck to remove Finch in the 16th over, the Australian finding Chris Jordan long on, England had all but wrapped up this contest. And so it proved.
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