OK – firstly, let me apologise. It’s not often a fervent cricket fan can celebrate a victory against Australia. Furthermore, it’s not often any such victory against them is ever described as “crushing.” So you’ll forgive my tabloid-style headline, for it is actually true.
After Michael Clarke lost his kit, and Michael Kasprowicz had some cash stolen – both in Leicester, reportedly – this loss against their oldest enemy will hurt (and surprise) them the most. As “Boof” Lehmann said on commentary, “Man, they’ll be hurting big style right now.”
As is 20/20′s very nature, everything happened very quickly. England eventually compiled a reasonable score, but were clearly edgy – several players indicating in post-innings interviews that the pitch was a belter (and it looked as such). Trescothick’s pedestrian 40 (from 37 balls!) was a vital cornerstone, and he looked in very good nick. Kevin Pietersen, man of the match, made a brutal, vital and telling 34 – from just 18 balls. As I’ve said before, it will only take a few innings of brutality/brilliance by Pietersen to oust Thorpe for the first Test at Lord’s and, today, he made another mark in the selector’s heads. 3 comfortable catches and a good innings, in his first game against possibly the best side in history. Nicely done.
Then carnage insued. Pensioner Darren Gough and debutant Jon Lewis (“never knowingly undersold” as David Lloyd said!) ripped out Australia’s top order. By the time Martin had edged Lewis to Trescothick, standing alone in the slips, Australia had crumbled to 31-7. Some key points:
Yes it’s a 20/20. Yes it’s not a 50 over game, or a Test match. But, had Australia won, you can bet most of the Australian media asking: “What’s all the fuss about this so-called New England? Same old, same old.” They’ve lost their first game against England on tour; Australia don’t do things like that, and will be licking their wounds.
I’m not making any more comment about how brilliant England were, or whether Australia were jet-lagged: England had a great day, and Australia had a shocker. But although many will say “Mate, it’s just a warm-up – you wait ’til the Tests”, England have just issued the strongest signal yet that they are well up for this series.