A chili in the empty Old Trafford saw no way to host a World Cup reunion dinner on a September evening, confirming that England’s night was flat, as Australia advanced 1-0 in the three-match ODI series by 19 runs.
With 295 to win by tourists, Eoin Morgan’s side record was on the run chase, with a list of nine players who won at Lord’s last summer and a huge list of similar wins, which some can dismiss.
But under the lights – and against the three seamers who helped keep the Ashes in Manchester 12 months ago – the World Champions were only able to score 275 for nine at the end of 50 overs, despite being the career best 118 from Sam Billings.
Glenn Maxwell (77) and Mitchell Marsh (73) put on 294 for 9 in 50 overs for Australia. Josh Hazlewood just shone brightly, delivering a new ball spell from his Test match playbook, three for 26 and a superb catch at depth to eliminate Johnny Barstow for 84.
The 29-year-old, who has been impeccable from the start, hit a metronomic abyss and enjoyed a smidge of movement thanks to a miraculous one-handed back-catch c and Joe Root behind a classical edge.
The strikes, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins’ austerity, and Byrstow’s infertility saw the scoreboard at 22 for two at the end of the opening power play, allowing Adam Zamba to make up for the need to move in a match in which the leg spinner demanded four for 55.
Morgan succumbed to Zamba at first, dropping him to Maxwell for a narrow mid-wicket of 23, but the catch of the day belonged to Marnus Lapusakne, who initially recovered after losing more than six attempts by Jose Butler and attempting to take a better dive.
With 57 for four, Billings and Burstow added 113 runs in 19 overs. With Zamba and Moin Ali pushing Haasloot to cover more when they saw the right-hander in the final over, the way to go seemed to be 182 for six in the 39th over.
As Chris Vokes fell in the final over of the Zamba, Billings tried to take it deeper, and an innings of inventive sweeps and crisp drives earned him an international century. He needed 39 more runs in the final 11 balls, even the miracle worker he did so – even Ben Stokes is expected not to pull it off.
Australia went into the match without Steve Smith, the master batsman was hit in the head in the nets 24 hours ago. Although he passed an early concussion exam, he needs one more before the second match on Sunday.
In the absence of Smith, the tourists were bowled out for 123 for five in the 24th over as the toss was stopped by Morgan – Joffra Archer bowled David Warner for six.
Archer and team-mate Mark Wood were both playing in the first ODI since last summer’s World Cup final, the latter, in the first shift, dropping Aaron’s pin in his opening game for 43 off 34 balls when he was caught behind Marcus Stoinis as a replacement for Smith. After Adil Rashid rang in Morgan’s praise, the sorcery witnessed in the T20s continued, with Lapuszczyn getting the LPW caught with a slider for 21 and pushing Alex Carey to a fine penalty-foot on a brilliant edge.
Marsh consistently piled up his runs and teamed up with the energetic Maxwell, and the pair scored 126 runs in 20 overs in one-day cricket against England, compiling Australia’s highest sixth wicket stand. Morgan, in need of a breakthrough, may have been forgiven for wondering if Liam Blankett would not retire very soon.
Maxwell in particular did well with those rubber wrists, needing only 43 balls for his fifty – 32 less than Marsh – and signaling his intention to burn the rear burners in the 44th over.
Archer turned straight, Maxwell cut the slow ball into his stump, then fooled Cummins with a knuckle ball, knocking out Wood Marsh’s patient innings LBW with three overs remaining.
Vokes, who caught Zamba in the 50th over and removed the ball, seemed to have limited the damage to England, but Starc started the final ball of the innings with six runs, which gave Australia a little boost before Hazlewood took charge.