Jos Buttler is hoping for one more crack at toppling Australia’s Twenty20 specialists but knows England will have to improve considerably to reach the final of the Trans-Tasman tri-series.
An Australian side filled with fresh faces from the Big Bash booked their spot in the Auckland showpiece with a dominant seven-wicket win in Melbourne, having already coasted past England in their first match and blown away co-hosts New Zealand in the curtain-raiser.
England now need to back-to-back victories over the Black Caps in Wellington and Hamilton to stand any chance of heading home with the silverware but Buttler believes a desire to right some wrongs will go a long way.
“It was a disappointing day, especially after a poor performance in Hobart. We were determined to show what we are capable of and we didn’t do that,” said Buttler, deputising as captain for the injured Eoin Morgan.
“But that’s the beauty of a tri-series, we still have a chance to make the final. Hopefully we can meet Australia and put on a better show.
“We haven’t showcased our ability as we know we can yet and there are guys in that dressing room who will be determined to come back strong.”
In truth, England’s performance represented a significant downturn on their previous losing effort.
Last time out they started brightly with the bat and conjured some late drama with a spirited display in the field. In front of 42,000 at the MCG they were muted from the off and set a slender target of 138 which never
looked like containing Australia’s batting line-up.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) February 10, 2018
Buttler produced the top-score of the match but laboured for his 46, while the likes of D’Arcy Short, Chris Lynn and Glenn Maxwell all batted with unfettered freedom in a speedy chase.
Aaron Finch faced only five balls at the end of the match, firing the last two into the stands to seal victory with 33 deliveries spare.
That was the final act of England’s long tour of Australia, comprising a 4-0 Ashes defeat and a 4-1 one-day success to go with the last two T20s.
“We go to New Zealand now, a nice change of scene,” noted Buttler.
Man-of-the-match Kane Richardson, who claimed three for 33 to top and tail the tourists’ innings, opted for a respectful tone at odds with the crushing nature of the result.
“It’s always nice to win but I wouldn’t read too much into us having the wood over them. It’s a pretty similar England team to the ODIs and they smashed us pretty well in that series. I’d expect them to bounce back.”
All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan returned from injury as Bangladesh Saturday made wholesale changes in their squad for the two-match Twenty20 international series against Sri Lanka.
At least five uncapped players – wicketkeeper-batsman Zakir Hasan, pace bowler Abu Jayed and all-rounders Ariful Haque, Mahedi Hasan and Afif Hossain – have been included in the 15-man squad for the series, announced just after the conclusion of a Test series.
Fast bowler Abu Hider has been recalled for the first time since the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 in India, while Tamim Iqbal and Mustafizur Rahman also returned after missing a two-match Twenty20 series against South Africa in October.
Mominul Haque, Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Nasir Hossain, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam and Taskin Ahmed, who were part of the Bangladesh squad for the South African T20s, have been dropped.
Shakib will lead the side after missing out the just-concluded Test series due to a finger injury.
Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 215 runs in the second Test on Saturday to win the Test series 1-0.
The result came after their success in the preceding tri-nation one-day international tournament, where they beat hosts Bangladesh in the final.
The first of the two-match Twenty20 series will be held on February 15 in Dhaka and the second match will be played at Sylhet on February 18.
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) February 10, 2018
Shakib Al Hasan (Capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Abu Hider, Abu Jayed, Ariful Haque, Mahedi Hasan, Zakir Hasan and Afif Hossain.
Provided by AFP Sport
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.