A Real Hiding!
First blood to England, then. In the end, what promised to be a crackerjack start to a highly anticipated series fizzled out, but I’m sure England supporters wouldn’t mind it one bit. It’s hard to remember a similar atmosphere at an English ground in a game that did not involve India. The quaintly named Rose Bowl was absolutely abuzz with excitement from the word go and England more than obliged. They played a refreshing brand of cricket when batting in contrast to the Australians who looked rusty and half a step slower in the field. Jason Gillespie in particular looked completely out of sorts and bowled a fair dose of gimme balls, particularly to the rampaging Paul Collingwood. Kevin Pietersen showed why he could be the most important player for England in the one-day series with a fearless display of stroke play. I think the lack of fear is a key ingredient of Pietersen’s success. Then, of course, there was Darren Gough. Gough didn’t try to do anything spectacular, just used his experience and held his nerve even as the Aussies contributed with some strange strokes. In the midst of all the madness, Jon Lewis cashed in big time. It was amusing though, to hear Nasser Hussain proclaim about at least three times how Gough ‘enjoys taking hat-tricks’ against Australia. As if it was something Gough did every now and then (I know he’s done it once). If anything, the crushing defeat is likely to harden the Aussies’ resolve and they will come back, all guns blazing. They have looked vulnerable in the shorter form of the game in the last year or so, but their opponents haven’t been able to take the game to them when it mattered. England did that in the ICC Champions Trophy last year, and have done it again, even though it was only a Twenty20 game. That will give them confidence. - NK