Australia stunned as Morgan inspires run chase
DAVID CAMERON may view Yorkshire folk as being unable to agree on very much at all.
But, after watching England square the Royal London one-day series in an enthralling fashion at a sun-drenched Headingley, there were a whole host of things that a capacity White Rose crowd were in full agreement about.
Such as just how impressive England had been in chasing down a target of 300 for the first time against Australia.
And just what a fine team effort it had been, from the trio of early wickets by David Willey through to a superb captain’s innings from Eoin Morgan that had thrilled the partisan locals.
Above all, though, what surely brought no dissent as a slightly merry crowd set off home was the suggestion that a quite remarkable catch on the boundary by Glenn Maxwell will take some beating in terms of both agility and quick thinking.
Just how the Australian had the presence of mind to keep the ball alive while heading over the rope and then reclaiming in mid-air is a question only he can answer.
It was phenomenal fielding and, together with another fine catch at backward point to account for Morgan plus a rapid 85, underlined just how unfortunate Maxwell was to finish on the losing side.
Cameron had been present in the middle tier of the Pavilion for some of Maxwell’s innings. He’d hot-footed it across Leeds after unwittingly being caught on mic telling an aide, “We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn’t realise they hated each other so much”.
Cameron’s gaffe came amid an England display that, even allowing for some wayward bowling at the death of the tourists’ innings, was light years away from the embarrassing efforts of this year’s World Cup.
After losing Alex Hales for a duck in the second over as Pat Cummins claimed the first of four victims, the hosts exuded confidence and class.
Jason Roy and James Taylor seized the initiative with some fine shots that saw 72 runs plundered from the first 10 overs, dwarfing the 39-3 that Australia had reached at the corresponding stage.
Both were then dismissed in quick succession, Roy perishishing courtesy of a mis-cued drive that Aaron Finch pocketed comfortably at mid-off before wicket-keeper Matthew Wade took a fine catch low to his left to dismiss the diminutive Taylor.
Any hopes, however, that Australia harboured about pushing on for a series-clinching win were soon ended by Morgan, who received able support from, first, Ben Stokes and then Jonny Bairstow.
The Irishman started quite tentatively, taking 40 balls to reach 20. After that, though, Morgan cut loose in fine style and by the time he was finally out for 92 he had reached parity of a run per ball.
England still required another 61 runs from a little over 10 overs as Morgan made his way off to rapturous applause but there was no way Australia were going to deny the hosts.
Not with Bairstow and then Moeen Ali looking in such fine knick. Liam Plunkett also plundered a useful 17 from 10 balls before being the unwitting victim of what must be one of the greatest catches of all time.
As Plunkett’s lusty blow sailed towards the mid-wicket boundary, his second six of the innings seemed a certainty.
Maxwell, however, had other ideas, as Yorkshire’s overseas star, first, caught the ball and then, as he headed out of play, threw the it up in the air. Even at that stage, Maxwell’s efforts looked like being in vain only for the Australian to somehow regain his balance and then reclaim in mid-air before landing an inch or two inside the boundary rope.
It was a catch worthy of winning any game but David Willey and Ali, instead, saw England home with an unbeaten stand of 22 runs.
Earlier, Willey had shown a liking for what will be his home ground next season with a devastating burst of swing bowling that reduced the tourists to 30-3. Joe Burns was the first to go, the opener chopping the 16th delivery of the morning on to his stumps. He was followed by Steve Smith, who at least could claim to have been dismissed by a much better ball as a yorker trapped the Australia captain in front of his stumps.
Aaron Finch, no stranger to the conditions in LS6, then edged Willey into the safe hands of Jonny Bairstow to leave Australia struggling. Maxwell and George Bailey steadied matters admirably with a 137 run stand for the fourth wicket.
Helped by a couple of dropped chances – Jason Roy in the slips and Adil Rashid in the deep – Maxwell led the way with a fearsome display of hitting that suggested the Australian would once again live up to his ‘Big Show’ nickname. Then, though, came a rash reverse sweep that brought no contact on the ball and a first wicket for Ali as the leg stump was clipped.
The breakthrough made, England stepped up the pressure as Mitchell Marsh and Bailey were dismissed in the space of three deliveries from Plunkett.
John Hastings and Matthew Wade did give Australia hope by punishing some wayward bowling in the closing stages to plunder 77 runs from the final six overs and leave the hosts needing to make history to keep the series alive.
It was something England duly did, to set up tomorrow’s decider at Old Trafford beautifully.