Eoin Morgan has demanded England’s batsmen maintain their aggressive outlook despite a dramatic mis-fire against Australia in Adelaide.
Having sewn up the series 3-0 in Sydney, the fourth one-day international saw England return to the scene of their 2015 World Cup defeat by Bangladesh – the wake-up call which inspired a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s 50-over cricket.
This time they lost their first five wickets for just eight runs, a collapse for the ages on Australia Day and one from which they never fully recovered, despite Chris Woakes’s face-saving 78.
But Morgan, whose side will be hoping to finish on a high in Perth tomorrow, says there is no going back.
“We don’t want to lose our positive mindset but it’s a balancing act,” he said after Australia chased down 197 with three wickets and 13 overs in hand.
“It was about finding a balance, to take the game to them but also to get through a tough period. We don’t want to wipe 10 overs out of the game and say ‘they bowled well so we only got 15-20 runs’.
We still want to take the game forward. I’d rather probably be 40-2 than 20 for none. We just need to get better at playing that way.England captain Eoin Morgan
“We still want to take the game forward. I’d rather probably be 40-2 than 20 for none. We just need to get better at playing that way.”
Morgan’s scratchy 33 made him the only member of the top six to contribute – there were three singles from Alex Hales alongside four ducks – and he paid tribute to Australia’s strike bowlers.
Pat Cummins turned in a career-best of 4-24, with Josh Hazlewood taking 3-39 in a fierce new-ball examination.
The pair maximised helpful early conditions after unexpected early morning showers and Morgan wore the look of a man who rued losing the toss.
“The forecast changed about 9am, 10am this morning,” he said.
“With some rain around and moisture in the air, we predicted it might move around but not for as long is it did.
“Australia bowled really well, took advantage of conditions and really were relentless with traditional line and length. They gave us literally nothing.
“I thought they bowled really, really well and the ball moved around. That rarely happens in a one-day international for so long.”
Home captain Steve Smith declined to get into the party mood on a night that ended with a riverside firework show in honour of the country’s national day.
Instead, he focused on a nervy chase which briefly threatened to bring England back into the game, exempting only Travis Head, who marked his recall with a crucial 96, proving a fitting replacement for the series’ top run-scorer, Aaron Finch, absent with a hamstring injury.
“It was nice to get over the line in the end but it was a pretty ordinary batting display really,” he said. “Apart from Heady, who played really well, the rest of us probably need to have a good, hard look at ourselves, start scoring some more runs and helping this team win some games.”
It was left to Woakes to look on the bright side. “When you lose wickets at the top you’re always going to struggle to post a decent total. Considering that, we put a score on the board and had a decent crack at them,” he said.
“The way we went about the fielding and bowling display was superb. We got close, just not close enough.”
Exactly 11 years ago, Australia embarrassed England by winning a day/night match before the floodlights had been turned on and without Woakes this might have been even more crushing.
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jos Buttler all banked ducks, facing a combined 20 balls for their collective nought – and England’s all-time low of 86 seemed a speck in the distance.
Morgan and Moeen Ali halted the clatter of wickets and chiseled out 33 runs apiece despite never settling.
Woakes, on the other hand, made light of his team-mates’ troubles and reeled off five sixes, all clubbed in the arc between long-on and long leg.
The all-rounder increasingly looks under-sold as a No 8, steering Moeen and Tom Curran to stands of 53 and 60.
Woakes’s resistance ended when he chipped Andrew Tye to long-on, with Curran close behind after a promising 35 in his first ODI innings.
England performed gamely in the field, Woakes finding David Warner’s edge early, Curran pinning Cameron White lbw and Smith well held by Root at slip off Adil Rashid. But Australia only really needed one batsman to come off and local boy Head did the job.
He rushed to 50 off 55 balls but watched as Mitch Marsh (32) and Marcus Stoinis (14) gifted their wickets to Rashid. Head fell four short of his ton and Cummins was needlessly run out, before Tye struck the winning runs.
Chris Waters’s verdict: Page 7