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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Columns > Peter Roebuck

Bevan's innings was commendable

March 03, 2003

Australia secured an incredible win over England and marched into the last six with full points. Afterwards the victorious players were ecstatic and exhausted. Spirit and strong performances from a couple of players saved the day. Australia made lots of mistakes and will not perform as badly again. If Ricky Ponting's team does win the Cup it may regard this day as decisive.

Australia needed a fight and England provided it. Significantly, Ponting did not spare his players after the match. He realises Tendulkar and company will not be as obliging.

England must be kicking themselves because the match was in their grasp and they let it slip. Even in the last over a fumble allowed the Australians to level the scores. Moments earlier, Andrew Caddick had failed to show the desperation needed to intercept a drive. Nasser Hussain's team might scrape into the next round but has little chance of reaching the semi-finals. They caught Australia on a bad day and still did not beat them. Nonetheless, opposing teams will take heart from this match because it was tight and showed the holders can be overcome. Until the last hour England was the better side.

For once Ricky Ponting's team lost the battles of the new ball. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee bowled short and were carted by an opening pair determined to upset their opponents. Numerous boundaries were hit square of the wicket, a difficult area to defend. Undoubtedly this tactic will be tried again. McGrath is a length bowler. Allow him to settle and he will probe away all afternoon. England gambled upon disturbing his rhythm and it worked. Before long McGrath was sending down bumpers and attempted yorkers from around the wicket, not at all his usual approach. These deliveries demand surgical precision for otherwise they will be punished. Inevitably, runs were scored straight and square of the wicket as England galloped away. The art of fifty-over cricket is to put your opponents under pressure.

Lee has been bowling well but old habits returned when he was given the red cherry in this match. Abandoning the discipline of his recent performances, and failing to take the pitch into account, Lee hurled the ball down and seldom hit the right length. England hooked, drove and improvised and reached 70 in 10 overs. Considering the state of the wicket, this was a powerful position. Clearly other teams will try to rattle the Australians with aggressive batting from the first over. These Australians are adept at getting inside the heads of their opponents. England replied in kind. Everything happens so quickly in these matches that it is hard for a captain or a bowler to keep a grip. Better these challenges are faced now than in the final.

McGrath must remember that he is one of the most feared and accurate bowlers the game has known. Rather than changing his plan under attack he must tighten it further. Probably only The Don and Sachin Tendulkar have been able to keep hitting good length deliveries to the boundary. Provided McGrath holds his game together he will prevail nine times in ten.

Lee is a different case. His low trajectory makes him vulnerable to attack. Plainly, he works better at first change and must be restored to this position. Of course, his place is in doubt after Andrew Bichel's inspired spell. Bichel also batted magnificently and cannot be omitted. The Queenslander saved his team mates with a superbly controlled exhibition of seam and swing bowling. Throughout he kept a full-length and moved the ball around. His figures speak for themselves.

Surprisingly Bichel was rested after six overs as the Australians failed to press home their advantage. Brad Hogg bowled admirably and Darren Lehmann was presentable, and England was on the ropes yet neither was given a slip. Moreover, the ball was turning. Ponting does not miss much, so his caution came as a surprise. Nor were the top bowlers recalled as the English sixth wicket pair settled into their work. Instead, Andrew Symonds was thrown the ball and promptly bowled a dreadful over whereupon he was given another. Twenty precious runs were given away in a low-scoring match.

Australia also batted carelessly against the new ball. Matthew Hayden played a horrible at a cut as early wickets were lost against some ordinary bowling. Thereafter, Australian backs were to the wall. Damien Martyn did not move his feet and fell first ball. At present, his batting lacks authority. Michael Bevan and Darren Lehmann started the fightback, a seasoned pair attending to their duties. Bevan is a lovely batsman to watch in these run chases, with his flicks of the wrist, ability to find gaps and refusal to regard any cause as lost. Considering he had barely batted for seven weeks, his innings was especially commendable. Help was needed and Bichel provided it with a sterling effort that included a six over mid-wicket of which any blacksmith would have been proud.

Otherwise, the middle-order did not impress. Symonds did not adapt to the conditions and drove a straightforward return catch and Hogg did not last. The selectors will be hoping that Symonds's century was not a fluke.

Of course, it was not all bad. The ground fielding was excellent, with Ponting and Symonds throwing themselves around and stopping numerous runs. Apart from the first ten overs of both innings the Australians played a solid game. Fortunately, they did not pay for their mistakes this time and can spend the next few days putting them right. The holders were resilient, and, in Bevan and Bichel, they had the men of the match on their side.

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: Aussie bowlers need to be Tendulkared

Nicely written article :-) By the way the Aussies as a team as about thrice as good as any other team in this world cup. ...

Posted by Nish

Sub: Peter Roebuck's column

Of late Roebuck has been trying to portray only Don Bradman and Sachin as the master batsmen capable of destructive performance with nobody else in ...

Posted by kannan


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