When it rains, it pours, especially if you’re an Australian in England. The Aussies had their match against New Zealand washed out on Wednesday and had to settle for shared points, despite the fact that they looked like they might just clinch a win. Add this to the fact that David Warner was dropped over a bar brawl with Joe Root on Sunday night, and it’s not a good time to be Australian. BY ANTOINETTE MULLER.
It’s taken a while, but for the first time in the Champions Trophy, rain had the final say on the result of a match as New Zealand and Australia had to settle for a draw and one point each, despite the Australians actually looking like they might manage to win something this summer.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat first, and it was much of the same for their fragile top order as the first three batsmen managed just 34 runs between them. Although Matthew Wade played a crucial role in his partnership with George Bailey, the Aussies’ batting line-up looked rather desolate.
David Warner was dropped from the starting XI following an altercation with Englishman Joe Root on Sunday night. Cricket Australia dropped him for breaking their code of conduct and he was, ironically, demoted to carrying drinks.
George Bailey managed 55 off 91 while he combined with Adam Voges for 77-run stand for the fourth wicket, but it was more of the same for the Australians from there on as they managed to post a meagre 243-8 in their 50 overs.
It was only a slightly better effort than their performance against England over the weekend, and while Mitchell McClenaghan is no James Anderson, he was still pretty impressive and picked up four wickets for his efforts.
Martin Guptill and Luke Ronchi both departed early for the Black Caps, with Clint McKay picking up both wickets, and Australia’s bowling actually looking reasonably concise. Mother Nature is a cruel woman, though, and she would rob the Australians of their joy as the heavens opened up just 15 overs into the game.
With 20 overs needed to constitute a result in one-day cricket, New Zealand’s batsmen were spared any further blips, and while Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson aren’t short on aptitude, the conditions were firmly in favour of the Australians.
The result means that should England beat Sri Lanka in their clash on Thursday, the hosts will qualify for the semi-finals while Australia will be left on the brink of exit. New Zealand is currently at the top of Group A with three points, but will drop to second if England wins – and still needs to play them. Australia still faces Sri Lanka, but qualification for the next round depends on a range of results going their way and the defending champions could be out of the tournament by Sunday.
Despite it all, the skipper was still content with the current state of affairs, and he was particularly pleased with the way his charges performed on a sticky wicket. But he spent most of his post-match conference dodging questions about Warner’s behaviour, how it happened, when it happened, what he thought caused it, et cetera. That’s perhaps not such a bad thing – perhaps answering questions he would have spent a lot of time preparing for was better than having to talk about the failing batsmen – but Bailey still praised his side when he had the opportunity.
“I was pretty happy with today. I think I thought we had just over what would be a par score on a pretty challenging wicket. We had taken a couple of early wickets. I thought we had some good momentum when the rain came. I don’t think the state of Australian cricket has changed from the start of the tournament. I said from the start the biggest challenge not only in this tournament but in our one-day cricket is closing our gap between our best and our worst games, and that’s something that will make us a better team rather than our best getting any better. I thought today was a more decent effort. It just would have been nice to find out where that left us,” Bailey said.
It only gets worse for Australia, with Michael Clarke unlikely to return for their final match, and doubts still lingering over whether he’ll be able to recover from his troublesome stint back in time for the Ashes.
New Zealand, while not quite as good as they were against England in the first two one-day internationals they played, are just one good game away from qualifying, and while the point they earned on Wednesday will stand them in good stead, skipper Brendon McCullum insists that his side would have preferred a full game – and insists the Kiwis are still on the right path.
“I’m confident we’re on the right track. We’ve played good one-day cricket in the last while. Sometimes we’ve been a little bit off the ball as well. But I think as a whole, we’re playing some decent cricket. If we can just tidy up a couple of those loose areas, you alluded to fielding at times and obviously the bat the other day as well on a very tough wicket. Even today just a little off the ball in parts; we were brilliant at other team times with the ball, and the team was brilliant with the ball. But other times we were just a little bit off,” McCullum said. DM
Photo: New Zealand’s Nathan McCullum (3rd L) is congratulated after dismissing Australia’s Matthew Wade (2nd R) during the ICC Champions Trophy group A match at Edgbaston cricket ground, Birmingham. REUTERS/Philip Brow
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