Kane Richardson and Billy Stanlake claimed five wickets apiece as England limped to 137-7 after the hosts put the tourists into bat.
In reply, Australia cruised to their 138 target inside 14.3 overs with D’Arcy Short’s 36 not out holding the innings together, with Glenn Maxwell (33 from 26) and Aaron Finch (20 off five deliveries) helping the hosts cruise home.
Here, we look at three key talking points:
SUPERB AUSTRALIA ON THE UP, ENGLAND OUT OF STEAM
After their third win on the spin, Australia have secured their final spot in Auckland on February 21 but have to wait to see who they will face.
Fortunately for England, this is not a knock-out tournament and means they have a chance at redemption. The attention now turns to New Zealand, with England facing the Kiwis in two matches, in Wellington (February 13) and then a potential play-off for the final in Hamilton (February 18). That encounter will likely decide Australia’s final opponent though the men from Down Under can have a huge say if they beat the Kiwis at Eden Park (February 16).
Deputising for the injured Eoin Morgan, it was just as well stand-in Jos Buttler stuck around to muster a turgid 46 from 49 balls for a below-par England. Australia, on the other hand, hold all the cards with key components of their batting and fast bowling cards firing simultaneously.
COULD AUSTRALIA TAKE BILLY STANLAKE TO SOUTH AFRICA?
With Jackson Bird’s participation for the tour to South Africa next month in some doubt after he injured a hamstring in Sheffield Shield cricket, it begs the question of whether Billy Stanlake could be given his first Test call-up.
While Chadd Sayers is the favourite to replace the 31-year-old, Stanlake should at least be considered as an option. As he showed again at the MCG with 2-28 from four overs (including 12 dot balls), his blistering pace from a towering 203cm in height is a real handful for most batsmen – and on bouncy pitches in South Africa – he would create more havoc.
The chance to learn more from the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood would benefit the young bowler, even if he didn’t play.
The two things that perhaps go against Stanlake ever forging Test ambitions is his blotchy injury record and fear of the toil of Tests on his tall frame, adding to the fact that he’s only played two first-class matches previously.
At just 23, Stanlake has years on his side but Cricket Australia – who have already given him a central contract – will need to be careful how they utilise him. The mind wanders back to Shaun Tait, a man who could also bowl above 150kph clicks regularly, but suffered with injuries throughout his career.
The best scenario all-round might be to allow Stanlake to develop as a short-form specialist but you can’t help think what could be.
EVIDENCE OF A LONG SUMMER DOWN UNDER
England have been in Australia since late October and although the T20I squad is vastly different from the Test players who started the tour, the Three Lions looked a bit weary in Melbourne. While the ODI series victory spared Ashes blushes, the tourists have just been caught a bit cold against a fired-up Baggy Green.
Meanwhile, the Australian public, with the help of English cricket’s travelling fans, have helped pack out most venues during the long tour in different formats but the MCG was perhaps the wrong venue for the finale to the the international summer. The official attendance of 42,691 was well below half of the venue’s full capacity. Although, in cricketing terms, that’s a good number – could a smaller ground have hosted the fixture?
Nevertheless, the hosts will be happy that they’ve ended a pretty good summer on home soil on a high note.
The hosts restricted England to an under-par 137-7 in their 20 overs after electing to field first before chasing down the target in the 15th over to inflict a second consecutive defeat on the visitors.
Here, we look at some key stats from Saturday’s clash.
THREE IN THREE AT THE MCG FOR THE AUSSIES
The win ensured Australia’s perfect record against England in T20s at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The hosts have now won all three T20 matches at the venue against their old foes. They had recorded a narrow four-run victory in 2011 over Paul Collingwood’s men after being setting a target of 148. In 2014, a George Bailey-led side had registered a thumping eight-wicket win over England in a similar chase of 131.
JOS BUTTLER’S STRUGGLE
On a difficult track to score on, England’s stand-in skipper Jos Buttler was the lone ranger with the bat with a 49-ball 46. England’s struggles were exemplified through Buttler’s innings with his strike-rate of around 93 being only the second time he has gone at less than run-a-ball in T20 cricket after facing more than 25 deliveries. The first instance also came against the Aussies at the MCG in 2014 where Buttler scored a 27-ball 22.
GLENN MAXWELL OVERTAKES CAMERON WHITE
When Glenn Maxwell drove Liam Dawson for a single in the eighth over of the chase, he overtook Cameron White to become the fourth highest run-getter for Australia in T20 internationals. That single took his tally to 985 runs, which is only behind David Warner (1708), Shane Watson (1462) and Aaron Finch (1152).
ENGLAND’S AUSTRALIA HOODOO
With Saturday’s defeat, England have now lost five of their last six T20I encounters against the Australians. Their sole victory during this run came in August 2015 when they beat the Aussies by five runs at Cardiff.
Out of the 16 T20I played between the two sides now, Australia have won nine with England winning only five times while two matches fetched no results.
During its first meeting of 2018, the International Cricket Council (ICC) raised concerns over the lack of tax exemptions which it said was ‘standard practice’ for any premier sporting event of the magnitude of the Champions Trophy.
This is despite ongoing efforts by both the ICC and the BCCI in trying to secure the exemption. After its meeting in Dubai, the world governing body issued a press release stating that alternate venues will be mulled over as the dialogue between the ICC, BCCI and the Indian government continued.
“The Board expressed their concern around the absence of a tax exemption from the Indian Government for ICC events held in India despite ongoing efforts from both the ICC and BCCI to secure the exemption which is standard practice for major sporting events around the world,” the press release said.
“The Board agreed that ICC management, supported by the BCCI will continue the dialogue with the Indian Government but in the meantime directed ICC management to explore alternative host countries in a similar time zone for the ICC Champions Trophy 2021,” it added.
This means that India could be in danger of losing the hosting rights to other ICC tournaments like the 2023 World Cup too if the issue is not resolved.
The ICC considering alternate venues with similar time-zones means the likes of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh could be in consideration.
The governing body also confirmed that Pepsico Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi has been appointed to the ICC Board as its first independent female director and will be joining in June 2018.
“The new model will see Ireland and Afghanistan each receiving a percentage of the projected surplus, amounting under current projections to approximately $40m each over the course of the current eight year commercial rights cycle,” ICC stated in the press release.