WIL­LEY WALLOPS AUSSIES

Daily Mail - - Sports - PAUL NEWMAN Cricket Correspondent at The Oval @Paul_New­manDM

The auld en­emy of Scot­land proved too strong but eng­land just about got the bet­ter of the old crick­et­ing en­emy Aus­tralia on an un­ex­pect­edly lows­cor­ing day at the Oval.

The start of the Aussies’ at­tempt at redemp­tion fol­low­ing the Cape Town ball-tam­per­ing scan­dal ended with the No1 side in the world re­assert­ing them­selves af­ter the em­bar­rass­ment of edinburgh.

eng­land, re­fus­ing to take a step back from the all-out at­tack­ing style that has rev­o­lu­tionised their white­ball cricket, lost seven wick­ets in over­tak­ing an un­der-par Australian to­tal of 214 all out.

But David Wil­ley made 35, his high­est score for eng­land, and smashed debu­tant Michael Neser for a straight six to fin­ish things off along­side Liam Plun­kett with 36 balls to spare.

There was none of the toxic ag­gres­sion that led to Aus­tralia’s im­plo­sion in South Africa in March and year-long bans for the Das­tardly and Mut­t­ley of cricket — Steve Smith and David Warner — for cheat­ing.

In­stead, the first of five one- day in­ter­na­tion­als be­gan with a staged show of sports­man­ship and hand­shakes be­tween the sides and was all sweet­ness and light.

The only no­table sledg­ing came from afar in the form of de­parted coach Dar­ren Lehmann, who took the BBC’s ex­cel­lent Alison Mitchell to task on Twit­ter.

All Mitchell had done was post a pic­ture of one of the pieces of sand­pa­per with four or six on them that an en­ter­pris­ing stock­broking com­pany had handed out out­side the Oval to try to poke fun at the Aussies. Sadly, the spoil­sports at Sur­rey at­tempted to con­fis­cate all 5,000, blam­ing am­bush mar­ket­ing, but one or two spec­ta­tors sneaked them in and tried to get them au­to­graphed by Aussies, to no avail.

eng­land’s spin­ners had en­dured a mis­er­able day in edinburgh when faced with the Grange’s short bound­aries but here, just as pre­dicted by eoin Mor­gan, they were back to prov­ing in­te­gral to the home at­tack.

Mor­gan in­vari­ably trusts Moeen Ali in the pow­er­play and his con­fi­dence was jus­ti­fied again when Aaron Finch, with five cen­turies against eng­land to his name, fell to the off-spin­ner’s fourth ball.

By that time Wil­ley, per­haps the luck­i­est eng­land bowler to re­tain his place af­ter bowl­ing far too short and fail­ing to get swing against Scot­land, had struck with his sec­ond ball to dis­miss Travis head and eng­land were on their way.

Aus­tralia had looked vul­ner­a­ble to spin in the warm-up matches against Sus­sex and Mid­dle­sex and now Moeen and Adil Rashid took full ad­van­tage with five wick­ets be­tween them, aided by an ar­ray of aw­ful shots.

No one was more cul­pa­ble than the man who has been charged with restor­ing Aus­tralia’s tat­tered rep­u­ta­tion, cap­tain Tim Paine, who will have to jus­tify his place in this side ahead of the World Cup.

Paine played a re­verse sweep off Moeen that was never a per­cent­age shot with a short third man in place and suc­ceeded only in find­ing Mark Wood.

When Mar­cus Stoi­nis fell to Rashid, Aus­tralia were 90 for five and head­ing for a thrash­ing that was only averted when Glenn Maxwell made his first half-cen­tury in one-day in­ter­na­tional cricket for 18 months.

Maxwell took 14 off Moeen’s last over to slightly spoil his fig­ures and went on to 62 off 64 balls be­fore Jonny Bairstow took an ex­cel­lent, run­ning catch on the bound­ary.

That was one of three wick­ets for an­other un­der-pres­sure bowler in Plun­kett, who was the most ex­pen­sive mem­ber of eng­land’s at­tack in edinburgh. Plun­kett, as re­vealed by Sports­mail on Tues­day, will miss eng­land’s one- day se­ries in Sri Lanka in Oc­to­ber be­cause of his wed­ding, so he can­not af­ford too many poor per­for­mances if he is not to fade away with the World Cup in sight.

When An­drew Tye be­came Plun­kett’s third vic­tim, Aus­tralia were about 100 short of par. But they were in the game when eng­land slipped to 38 for three, Jason Roy fall­ing sec­ond ball to the pace of Billy Stan­lake, Alex hales trapped by Neser and Bairstow pick­ing out the one deep fielder on the leg side.

Mor­gan and Root looked to be turn­ing the chase into a stroll when they added 105 for the fourth wicket but, just as against Scot­land, eng­land stut­tered as they stub­bornly re­fused to adapt to the sit­u­a­tion.

Jos But­tler could have been out twice in a skit­tish in­nings be­fore he fell to Tye’s trade­mark knuckle ball and when Root de­parted to the ex­cel­lent Stan­lake, eng­land were wob­bling at 163 for six.

Moeen, who in­sisted be­fore the game that he would con­tinue to do things his way, again took eng­land close to the fin­ish line but again gave it away as he at­tempted to hook Neser over the long­est bound­ary.

Thank­fully for eng­land, Wil­ley pro­vided an over­due calm hand on the tiller to put them one up with four to play against what looks an or­di­nary Aus­tralia side.

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