Australia stomped all over England at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on Sunday, winning the match with 88 balls to spare after bowling England out for 129 in 45.2 overs.
England had talked up the remaining two matches of the Ashes with the suggestion that their aim was to repeat their 2017/18 comeback, and draw the series on points. Perhaps it was for that reason that they chose to stick with an almost-identical XI to the first ODI (Katherine Brunt was rested with a “niggle”), refusing to hand match-practice to Lauren Bell or Freya Davies ahead of the World Cup, or tinker with their batting line-up. It seems pretty certain that England will be sticking with Lauren Winfield-Hill at the top of the order for the World Cup, come what may.
England reached 40 for 1 after 10 overs but it was downhill from there, as Ellyse Perry (3 for 12) pulled out the kind of disciplined bowling performance which leaves England fans waking up in a cold sweat with flashbacks of July 2019. There were two phenomenal catches from Australia – Alyssa Healy diving to her right behind the stumps to see off Tammy Beaumont, before Meg Lanning topped it with a screamer taken full-stretch to HER right at first slip.
They fought hard with the ball – Kate Cross once again dispelling the bizarrely persistent claims that she is a “red ball specialist” with a brilliant couple of spells – but as so often in this series, the bowlers couldn’t make up for the fact that the batters let England down – badly.
Watching the top-order today, you’d be hard-pressed to find any evidence of England’s pre-series “fighting fire with fire” strategy. Too often, they got stuck in the crease when they needed to be attacking the ball – five wickets fell LBW. England also, once again, used their DRS reviews poorly. Sophia Dunkley’s reluctance to make the “T” signal told a thousand stories; she really should have stood up to Amy Jones, who appeared to have talked her into the review. It probably didn’t make much difference in the end today – although Cross could have saved herself, with replays showing the LBW decision against her was actually missing leg-stump – but on another occasion (a World Cup semi-final, say) it could be crucial. England get far more practice with DRS than most other sides in the world, and need to get better at using it to their advantage.
So… what next? There are obvious parallels with the misery of the Canterbury ODI in July 2019, when Perry ran through England’s batters, finishing with 7 for 22, and effectively sealed England’s fate in the series. The media were unforgiving; and when England coach Mark Robinson was hastily dispatched at the end of the series, it seemed the blame for the humiliation of Canterbury was being laid square on his shoulders.
I think, ultimately, this defeat won’t “land” in quite the same way that one did. For one, England had already surrendered the Ashes this time around. For another, the fact that their World Cup defence will commence in a matter of weeks means that there is another immediate goal to focus on. There is no sense in beginning any post-mortems at this point.
But… that could simply be delaying the inevitable. Because if England play like they did today in New Zealand next month, their title is going to slip away quicker than you can say “Ellyse Perry”; and if there is one thing worse than losing the Ashes to Australia, it is losing the Ashes AND a World Cup crown to Australia in the space of two months.
When I heard that “fighting fire with fire” slogan prior to the tour, and then saw the squad England had selected, my immediate reaction was “Yeah, right”. And, with the laudable exception of their second innings in the Test, I’m afraid England’s batting approach has been to fight fire with a garden hose.
But I think the timidity has been most stark when you compare the bowling selections. Australia have been prepared to pick young pace bowlers and stick with them even after, inevitably, they have bowled poor spells from time to time. England had young pace bowlers on standby but has steadfastly refused to pick them – in particular, the decision not to play Lauren Bell even after the Ashes were out of reach astounded me. Maybe she’ll succeed at the first attempt, maybe not – but England will never know until they give her the chance.
On a positive note, how good has Kate Cross been on this tour? Great to see. And, though I doubted Alana King’s selection for the longer formats, she has done really well too. Fingers crossed for everyone’s safe and health arrival at the World Cup!
The plain fact was emphasised by Ebony Rainford Brent on the preamble to the match on BT. Ability wise the difference between Aus and Eng is not huge! However, the desire, grit and guts to win between the individuals in the teams is hugely different. England seem too timid and especially the batters who don’t seem to be able to stick in and say “you get me out”, and frequently surrendered their wickets either by sitting back and getting lbw or playing irrational attacking shots instead of pushing the ball around and gathering runs!
Well said RRR, I would tend to agree.
England batting looking tired and uninspired. Also how I feel watching these ODIs. Bowling performances been ok but strategy baffling. Imagine going into quarantine feeling flat as a pancake! Really need something from the last ODI.
Has the coach changed anything, we continue to rely on players rolling back the years and the captain, in what seems a short term plan (being a runner up in the ‘next’ World Cup) rather than developing young players (even in a dead rubber).
Saying that how many young players achieved a ‘break out’ from the 100. Teams still relied upon the established stars (from home and overseas) and many young players in squads or in some situations were selected as specialist fielders.
The problems are deeply rooted in a domestic game that needs something more substantial behind the 100 if ODIs and Tests teams are to evolve.
There is possibly more at stake in the 3rd ODI that might at first appear.
If Australia win it and therefore the ODI series 3-0 it would bury any claim England would have to be the best in the world even if they did win the World Cup, which, in itself, would raise the difficult question of what on earth the World Cup is about.
This is one of the potential consequences of positioning The Ashes and The World Cup so close together in time.
I think you’re being a little harsh on England’s players and selectors.
Yes, England lost. But as you acknowledge in your article, England was defeated by a combination of Ellyse Perry and a pair of “phenomenal” catches.
You should ponder that point a little.
In a book recently published here in Australia and listing Australia’s 50 best cricketers of recent years, Perry was ranked no. 1, ahead of Shane Warne. That says all you need to know, not only about Perry, but also as to the importance Australia’s cricket community assigns to women’s cricket.
To put it bluntly, Warne was so talented a cricketer that he was always regarded as a freak, but Perry is rated more highly than he is; and Australia has long been devoting a great deal more attention, and money, than any other country to the women’s version of the game.
I’m old enough to remember the Ian Botham of 1981. Even very good teams, like the England women’s team of today, can be all but single-handedly defeated by freaks.
Now for the selections. I’ve been following both Eve Jones’s and Emma Lamb’s fortunes since they arrived in Australia. In Jones’s case, that was before the WBBL. Neither of them has set the world on fire, and their best batting has been in T20s (in which Lamb has not been opening), not 50 over matches.
Who can really be confident that either of them would bat better as an opener in a WODI than Winfield-Hill, when even Tammy Beaumont has been struggling?
I’m sure it must be frustrating for you that the Ashes has been lost. I wasn’t too pleased about the result of the Men’s Ashes in 1981 and 2005. But the World Cup isn’t yet similarly lost as a foregone conclusion.
Australia didn’t even make the final of the last WODI World Cup, and only just scraped into the final of the last T20I World Cup. In both of those tournaments, at least one of Australia’s best players was severely hampered by injury.
Who is to say that that’s not going to happen again?
England are up somewhere, without a paddle that’s for sure, and it’s not a junction! This was a timid and tepid batting performance that did much to channel the nightmares of Canterbury. It was a depressing procession of seemingly clueless players, who for whatever reason could neither score runs nor hang around for long enough to frustrate Australia into wayward bowling. Dreadful stuff unfortunately, and not pretty viewing.
A few batters just kept playing it straight to the backward point fielder (I lost count of how many times that happened) then just gave it away with a rash shot or playing across the line. WFH is like a female James Vince of old, playing a few pretty drives then always gets out in the 20s or 30s. Dunkley was very disappointing and she seems to have gone off the boil a bit. Like you said a total waste of a review, she should have just walked off. Dean is a good bowler and fielder but still looks like a number 10 or 11 with the bat to me. Jones and Ecclestone played OK but that should have been the platform from which to launch, not the launch itself!
England did their best for a fightback with the ball but there was never really a chance of that. I was expecting Australia to win after about 25 overs with 1 or 2 wickets down. That it took them 35 overs and for the loss of 5 is a credit to England, dragging it back ever so slightly, and shows the pitch conditions maybe weren’t as easy as we’d thought. And to think according to Mr Hodge it was a 280-300 pitch! Just goes to show that some of the Aussie pundits on BT sport have been talking some real nonsense over the whole course of this tour. Totally biased as well, although I was expecting that.
Cross bowled and fielded very well, with a good run out. Her success over the past couple of years has been phenomenal. But unless the England batting picks up a bit we’ll have little to no hope of getting through the group stage of the NZ World Cup after this series, let alone winning it. It was always going to be difficult to emulate that 2017 performance again, even given an ideal environment, but where the team are currently, they will have a real struggle to get to the knockouts at all.
Not expecting much to change in the final ODI, we might see a last bounce from England if they can manage it, but it probably won’t be enough this time. Some big changes need to be made going forward! Lamb, Bell and E. Jones in (at least)! No point in making wholesale changes right now, but if the WC is not at least a semi-final, I can’t see there not being restructuring come springtime.