Lessons Learned from 4th ODI Between Australia and England at the WACA
After 92 days, eight matches and eight defeats, England have finally beaten Australia on what has been dubbed the Tour from Hell.
Propelled by Jos Buttler, England set Australia 317 to win, but the hosts fell 57 runs short when James Pattinson was caught behind and Australia were bowled out for 259.
Click "Next" to read Freddie Wilde's match notes from the fourth ODI.
Ending the Streak
It was with tantalising unease that England finally ended their eight-match losing streak in Australia.
Just one wicket away from victory, a straightforward catch was shelled in the deep by Ben Stokes, shortly before another fell tormentingly short of Gary Ballance on the boundary.
It felt appropriately difficult for England to get over the line of victory even in what was broadly speaking a relatively comfortable win.
Cook, and Opening Up
It appears that Alastair Cook’s poignant press conference after the Sydney defeat, in which his despondency clouded his captaincy future, was one of emotional catharsis rather than anything more meaningful.
Cook defused any notions that he was on the brink of resigning at the toss on Friday, claiming his comments in the press conference “were emotional” and that he is “desperate” to carry on in the role, per the official ECB Twitter.
Whether Cook is the best man to be leading England forward is uncertain, but by exposing the raw emotion in which the Sydney press conference was founded, English cricket must hope he has safeguarded against a similarly emotionally charged decision at the end of the series.
Sudden resolutions and verdicts while the embers of this tour are still hot are the last thing England need.
There was, as Iain O’Brien tweeted, an air of calm to Cook’s persona in the field today. How much of that was the result of him fronting up to the fact the tour has got to him, rather than packaging it in rhetoric, is up for debate.
If it wasn’t already evident, England have something very special in Jos Buttler.
There’s an ineffable nonchalance to his audacity, which you get the feeling is anything but to him.
Scooping Pattinson over the keeper? Meh. Flicking Faulkner for six over midwicket? Blergh.
It comes so easily to him. His age, and the nature of his development as a primarily limited-overs player thus far for Somerset has entrenched what are otherwise unusual methods as the norm for him.
In Buttler, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan, England have three limited-overs batsmen riding the crest of innovation and perhaps even genius.
It should be plainly obvious that it is around this trio that England’s ODI batting should pivot.
The Boy Who Leads
Who knows how long-term the concept of batting Ben Stokes at three is?
Regardless, his Midas touch on this tour—and, indeed, his love affair with the WACA—continued on Friday.
His all-round abilities give balance to the team and that was so conspicuous by its absence during England’s Champions Trophy campaign last year.
He is the torchbearer for England’s future.
Finch, Knowledge, and Myth Busting
Perhaps underlying cricket’s sanctimonious suspicion of the hefty top-order hitter is a perceived lack of cricketing acumen in the mind of the modern-day bruiser.
Such a perception could not have been less evident in Aaron Finch’s interview at the end of the day with Sky Sports, in which he spoke candidly of the details of his, Australia’s and England’s tactics—all of which he saw from a nuanced and subtle perspective.
His century today was his second in four ODIs, and fourth in international cricket since and including his blitzkrieg at the Ageas Bowl.
Brilliant but Brainless
Glenn Maxwell advanced down the pitch and toward the leg-side, took an enormous heave at a ball that slightly cramped him for room, edged it and was caught behind.
It was during the Powerplay and the required rate was above nine, but Maxwell has the potential to be a far better player than a lot of his dismissals suggest.
Frustrating does not do justice to the extent of Maxwell’s profligacy.
While they’ve had great chances to record a victory in this series already—most notably in Melbourne, when they let Australia’s dying body wriggle away—no mistakes were made on Friday.
England won because they finally all performed collectively well, and when they were on top, they didn't relent.
Tim Bresnan continues to lurch between the awful and the reliable—on Friday, he was the latter, and the enigma of his international future is no clearer.
Australia rested key players, but England still had to work hard for victory, and into that you can read a lot about the state of mind of both teams.