Clarke gets some payback for Ashes defeat with one-day win
Michael Clarke’s Australia earned a measure of redemption in Manchester as the captain’s hundred powered them to an 88-run victory over England in the NatWest Series.
At the Old Trafford ground where Australia conceded the Ashes last month – despite Clarke’s 187 back then – they returned with a vengeance to take a 1-0 lead with three to play in this one-day international campaign.
Clarke (105) struck the first ODI century by any Australian in England, after ten previous matches here against their hosts, and combined with George Bailey (82) in a fourth-wicket stand of 155 in a total of 315 for seven.
England, who had put Australia in on a pitch of slightly uneven pace, therefore needed to pull off their highest successful chase in this format.
Despite half-centuries from Kevin Pietersen (60), captain Eoin Morgan (54) and Somerset’s Jos Buttler (75), they never threatened to do so.
From nine for two, there already appeared to be no way back – and so it proved as England were eventually bowled out with the final 5.4 overs unused.
Clarke had earlier reached his eighth century in this format from only 94 balls, having hit 14 fours but taken few obvious risks as only Boyd Rankin among England’s bowlers was able to consistently exert much control.
The 30-over platform was a very good one, at 159 for three, especially after Australia lost Shaun Marsh without a run on the board. Marsh followed some full-length swing from Steven Finn, edging behind, and it was almost nought for two next ball.
Instead, Shane Watson profited from the vagaries of the Decision Review System when Aleem Dar’s third-umpire deliberations overturned Richard Kettleborough’s initial leg before wicket verdict on Hotspot evidence.
Watson played a fretful part in the first of three successive 50-plus stands until DRS got him in the end, Dar again unable to endorse Kettleborough – on the basis of audio – to conclude the number three had edged a wide ball behind off Bopara for birthday boy Buttler’s second catch.
Bailey was assured and fluent from the outset as he and Clarke stayed ahead of the game – sufficiently to call an early powerplay, in which Australia cashed in 43 for none.
In the last of those five overs, Ben Stokes conceded 13 as Bailey followed his captain to a half-century with his third six – a clean, straight hit – to go with three fours from 47 balls.
Bailey and then Clarke too, caught behind off the deserving Rankin, both went in the last ten overs.
England’s reply got off to a miserable start thanks principally to Mitchell Johnson.
Bowling at 90mph or more, the erratic left-armer veered much closer to his irresistible best than occasionally unfathomable worst. Michael Caberry and especially Jonathan Trott could attest to that, gone for four and nought respectively.
The opener contributed significantly to his own downfall by slapping a catch to point off the back foot but then the number three departed to an outstanding short ball.
Joe Root could not come to terms with requirements and, having fortuitously survived Johnson’s new-ball spell, was bowled through the gate on the back foot by James Faulkner.
Pietersen changed gear with a sudden rush of big shots and hit five fours and two sixes in his 50 but when Clarke recalled Johnson to try to break the fourth-wicket stand with Morgan, two testing overs cost just four runs. As the required rate pushed eight-an-over, Pietersen mistimed a catch to cover off Watson.
When Morgan went in the first over of the batting powerplay, mistiming Clint McKay (three for 47) to extra-cover, only the score details were to be decided, with Buttler’s maiden ODI fifty completed with a six over midwicket off Faulkner from 49 balls.