England’s miserable tour ends in low-scoring defeat
Australia defend 217 in Adelaide to complete 4-1 series win
Matthew Wade celebrates a wicket with Nathan Coulter-Nile of Australia during the one-day international against England at the Adelaide Oval. Photograph: by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
In the end it was perhaps all for the best, as England lost a low-scoring and ultimately rather tense and gripping fifth one-day international by seven runs at the Adelaide Oval, thereby passing up on the chance of a little misleading dead rubber gloss at the end of a series that was lost a week ago in Sydney.
In fact England threw away what looked a winning position here, having restricted Australia to 217 on a sticky, two-paced pitch before moving to 154-3 in their reply with 13 overs left.
Wickets fell in clusters as Australia’s seam attack bowled with control and penetration, Ravi Bopara produced a bizarrely static innings of prods and pokes, never at any stage taking on the bowling with the kind of intent that might have nudged England ahead in the final knockings.
The final over arrived with England needing eight runs and with the last pair Chris Jordan and James Tredwell at the crease. Shane Watson’s first ball brought a swing and a miss followed by a pair of desperately scampered singles before Tredwell edged the fourth ball to Matthew Wade and that was that.
A Test and one-day tour notable for so many traumatically one-sided defeats ended with a traumatically last-ditch defeat as Australia, embarking on a jubilant charge across the square in the moment of victory, took the series 4-1.
Australia had earlier won the toss and made 217 runs batting first on a hot, cloudless Adelaide day that saw Michael Clarke and Watson return to their top order while England recalled Joe Root in favour of Gary Ballance.
There has been the odd sigh of regret at the redevelopment of the old ground here, but this new Oval is a beautiful modern structure in its own right with its wide stands and faux-country-fete giant white undulating roof, a stadium befitting this well-heeled new-build nation. On this occasion the Adelaide Oval pitch had a bit less zing about it, a slow, grippy affair on which batsmen on both sides found themselves caught in the inner ring driving at balls that stopped a little.
At the halfway stage Australia’s total had looked a mildly tricky prospect, but still eminently gettable as Ian Bell skewed England’s first boundary over point in the third over, then picked Nathan Coulter-Nile up over midwicket with a disdainful little cuff before once again giving his wicket away, this time driving Coulter-Nile in a gentle arc to mid-off.
Without ever looking out of form Bell has had a quietly dismal tour. Ben Stokes came and went for a six-ball duck to leave England 29-2 as Australia’s seamers hit a testing, nibbling length. Root came in at number four and got going with a pull for four off James Faulkner over the head of a grasping short midwicket.
England’s 50 came up at the start of the 14th over as Alastair Cook nudged and flicked with purpose and Root manoeuvred Glenn Maxwell’s off-breaks around and reverse-lapped impishly for four, followed by the 50 partnership from 63 balls.
Cook had batted without any particular sense of urgency for his 39 off 62 balls when he spooned Coulter-Nile on the half drive to short cover to leave England 91-3 after 24 overs and the match still finely balanced as the lights began to take effect.
Eoin Morgan again looked infectiously positive, lofting Watson for a straight six before Root went to his 50 off 79 balls with a lovely clean smite over long-on off Maxwell. At which point the powerplay struck again , as it always must with England. First Morgan holed out to mid-off for a fluent 39 off 39 balls and Root followed shortly after, paddling Faulkner to short fine leg after a neat, quietly fluent innings of 55.
The run rate had by now climbed to six an over from the last 10 with Bopara prodding his way to two from 20 balls, before pulling a short ball from Xavier Doherty to the fence to bring up England’s first boundary in five overs.
When Jos Buttler departed for five to leave England 174-5 Australia were for the first time all day favourites to win the match. England’s hopes hung on Bopara, not always the sturdiest place for them: he slashed a short ball from Watson to the fence and Tim Bresnan, who launched Coulter Nile delightfully over midwicket for six to bring the runs required below 30 with five overs left and every dot ball drawing gasps and cheers.
A tight Faulkner over drew a too-tight dash for a single and Bresnan was run out by a fine direct hit by the livewire Maxwell. Enter Broad to cathartic evening boos from a half-full stadium. When he was bowled playing a wide-open waft England needed 14 off 18 and it was time for the eerily becalmed Bopara to make his long-delayed move.
Finally he was out in unfortunate but also terribly meek circumstances, prodding at Clint McKay and seeing the ball bounce back off Matthew Wade’s chest to break the stumps, with Bopara’s foot judged to have been in the air. And that, effectively, was that for a match that saw England crumble a little under pressure, and Australia bowl well at the death.
Earlier Australia had begun with a stutter as Broad produced a superb opening spell of two for eight from four overs, nipping the ball off the seam at a teasing length, splattering Aaron Finch’s stumps with a ball that nipped back past an unworthy forward prod, then having Watson caught behind for a four-ball duck.
George Bailey and Maxwell brought up the hundred in the 28th over before Maxwell was out driving at Stokes, caught by a tumbling Buttler, who held every chance offered in this series and let just two byes through in five matches and was, along with Jordan who bowled well at the death here, a positive for England in another losing series.