England back-up crew taken down by fiery Aussies
By Richard Gibson CRICKET CORRESPONDENT
dmg media (UK)
ENGLAND’S white-ball reservists threatened to take an unwanted series Down Under into a decider — but lacked the firepower to overcome a full-strength Australia. Fielding mainly players who have been on the road since mid-September, it fell to two fresher men in Sam Billings and James Vince to hit half-centuries that kept alive hopes of levelling things at 1-1 as the match entered its final quarter. But having rebuilt the innings after the loss of a trio of new-ball wickets, the departure of Vince to an umpire’s call leg-before at 156 for three sparked a collapse of seven for 52 that handed Australia a 72-run victory and an unassailable lead heading to Melbourne, where England made history last week by becoming double world champions. Some of their finalwinning XI have since departed for Test duty and others have been rotating at the end of this anticlimactic tour. Billings and Vince shared a stand of 122 inside 23 overs that featured peaks and troughs for each in conditions that were challenging yet familiar — both play franchise cricket in Sydney. They had got England ahead of the asking rate, when Josh Hazlewood brought himself back to pin Vince leg before for 60. Billings then followed for a top-score 71 as one of three Adam Zampa victims in a 19-ball spell. ‘It was definitely a pitch where you had to go through the gears, and we had to absorb pressure. It was about taking it as deep as possible but unfortunately we couldn’t quite get there,’ Billings said. Surgery to a chase of 281 was necessary after the out-of-nick Jason Roy and Dawid Malan were dismissed by Mitchell Starc in the opening over — the latter to a 90mph out-swinger that pitched middle stump and hit off. Phil Salt counter-attacked with 23 from 16 balls, but his ugly departure to Hazlewood forced a cautious approach in dry conditions that promoted both spin and reverse swing. That combination proved deadly as leg-spinner Zampa and left-armer Starc finished with four wickets apiece and England were dismissed with 67 deliveries unused. ‘It’s tough for England to back up, with the scheduling, so a bit of sympathy for them but it’s still really nice to beat a really good team,’ said Zampa. Australia’s 280 for eight was founded on another sizeable contribution from Smith following his unbeaten 80 in Adelaide. He fell attempting to reach 100 with a six — a dismissal that took Adil Rashid beyond Andrew Flintoff’s career haul of 168 one-day international wickets. It was not such a good day for England’s other World Cup banker: Sam Curran conceded 16 from the 50th over, more than his entire spell cost against Pakistan seven days ago.