It wasn’t close. From the moment that England’s best player Jofra Archer had to undergo a fitness test before the start of the match, while Australia made the obviously right decision to bring in Nathan Lyon, everything was going Australia’s way and it never stopped. Jason Roy was also ruled out for England, while Australia gambled with the better bowler but weaker batsman in Jason Behrendorff. Warner and Finch looked solid, and withstood everything England threw at them, which was more like a feather than a kitchen sink. The century stand came up somewhat inevitably, the only issue being if they were too slow. Then the others upped the run rate, only then, for a brief glimpse, England held onto some hope, as the Australians gave their wickets away, including Smith running out Stoinis only to give his own wicket away soon afterwards, but then Alex Carey right at the end lifted the total and 285 always looked like enough.
England’s chase never got going. 3 early wickets stifled the run rate and there was no confidence in England’s step, while there sure was in Australia’s. While Ben Stokes threatened to steal the show, and he at least believed they could win, just like against Sri Lanka the others gave up without a fight. When Stokes was out England needed 109 more runs off 13 overs, but with just 4 wickets in hand it never looked likely. It was similar to Bangladesh’s chase against Australia, only in this case England took more risks and lost more wickets. The margin for this match looks slightly bigger – 64 versus the 48 against Bangladesh – but realistically this one was closer. It still wasn’t particularly close, though.
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Five Things We Learned:
(1) England are no longer unbeatable
It sounds obvious, what with this being their 3rd loss now, but England have lost that air of invincibility. This was a nervous team that weren’t sure in themselves, not the one that piled on 8 scores in a row of 300+ and looked able to chase down any target and set any target. It’s a confidence thing but in the next 2 games against the 2 undefeated teams in India and New Zealand they will have to regain it very quickly.
(2) Ben Stokes is still good
Why he only bowled 6 overs is a mystery, but with the bat he was gold, the only player who looked like he thought England could win. He might not win player of the tournament and he isn’t even England’s best player but he sure does bring a lot of that self-belief.
(3) I was right about Nathan Lyon playing
It was a very specific prediction I made and I got it right, which I was happy about. For people thinking my prediction game is bad, well, I got that right. He didn’t take any wickets, though, so he might not play much more than this, but hey I got it right that he’d play this match. Australia felt stronger with him in the team – and with Behrendorff too, for that matter, who took 5 wickets.
(4) Aaron Finch and David Warner are scary at the top
You could feel the intimidation by this partnership who seem to get 100 runs on the board in quick time without looking like getting dismissed. Finch had been out of form before the tournament while Warner was in the middle of a year long ban and yet suddenly they are the form openers in the competition and in a combined XI you’d be tempted to put both of them in. This time Finch got a century, and messed up by celebrating it too hard and getting out next ball, but they were both equally good really.
(5) Australia may only have two good bowlers but they are better than anyone else’s two
Australia’s Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins cough Jason Behrendorff took 9 of the 10 English wickets, while the rest of the bowlers were just there to make up the numbers, but they still looked good. Wait on, Jason Behrendorff? I thought it was Pat Cummins. Cummins took no wickets and Behrendorff took 5. I guess that all those people criticising Australia’s bowlers were wrong. I for one thought that Australia had very good bowlers. I guess now we can say that Australia at least have 3 good ones.