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.
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