England Banish Ashes Demons With MCG Blitz
England’s meek and timid Test Dr Jekyll was transformed into a dominant and rampaging ODI Mr Hyde on an evening where Eoin Morgan’s men raised the batting bar in the 50-over format of the game to take a 1-0 lead over Australia in the five match series.
With the Ashes being handed over to Australia in a barrage of pace bowling and brilliant batting from the home side, the big unknown would be how England would respond in the shorter format.
Over the past couple of years England have progressed at a rapid rate and they showed no mental scars from the Test series by dominating the home side.
Australia batted first on an excellent surface at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and on the back of Aaron Finch’s ninth ODI century, Steven Smith’s men posted 304. No side had ever chased down such a total in the history of ODI cricket at the MCG, dating back to 1970, so the task facing England was a sizeable one.
The England batters took to it as if it was a Sunday afternoon stroll, as they blazed away at the top of the order – taking apart a bowling attack led by Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins who had looked so devastating in the Tests.
Starc went for 71 in his 10 overs, Cummins 63 in his allocation as England tore into the Australia bowlers.
Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow put on 53 for the first wicket in a shade over four overs and it set a foundation and tone. When Bairstow fell to Starc, Alex Hales blazed away. When Hales fell to Cummins, Roy took up the baton – able supported by the steady hand of Joe Root.
Root was happy to play the role of support act, allowing Roy the freedom to attack and attack and attack.
Australia had no answer to the onslaught, which exposed the decision to pick Adam Zampa ahead of Nathan Lyon. Whether Lyon could have shackled Roy is a question we will never get an answer to, but Lyon has blossomed into one of the finest spinners in the game and he would have stood a greater chance than Zampa who appeared to wilt under the pressure as his final three overs went for 34.
Roy was the man who did the damage, and his 180 was the highest score by an Englishman in the history of ODI cricket. The only negative was Roy was not there at the finish, with it left to Moeen Ali to hit the winning runs.
The second ODI takes place in Brisbane on Friday and while the England side is likely to remain the same, expect changes in the Australia ranks.
The market makers expect a response, with Australia priced at 1.57 by 188BET for the win and England at 2.36.