14th over: Australia 64-2 (Smith 21, Labuschagne 13) Interesting bowling change from England with Liam Livingstone invited into the attack ahead of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. The allrounder lands his leggies reasonably, and there’s some slow turn on offer, but Australia will be disappointed to have only knocked him away for three singles.
The commentary crew on TV cannot understand why Rashid hasn’t been brought on yet, and pull up some flattering stats to prove their point. England’s premium spinner has a very good record against Steve Smith. That crew, incidentally, is now Howwy (Mark Howard), Watto (Shane Watson) and Daddy (Eoin Morgan).
13th over: Australia 61-2 (Smith 19, Labuschagne 12) *Very Crocodile Dundee voice*: Now that’s a bouncer. Fast and short and menacing from Wood, forcing Labuschagne to sway inside the line. The batter stays alert to rotate the strike next delivery, but Wood is landing his stock ball on a good length, restricting the partnership’s ability to push on.
12th over: Australia 58-2 (Smith 17, Labuschagne 11) Woakes continues into his sixth over, and it begins tidily, but for reasons best known to himself he drops in a short ball that Labuschagne is onto in a flash, smiting a boundary with relish. Woakes responds well by inducing an outside edge from the same blade that bounces just wide of the slipper Root.
11th over: Australia 51-2 (Smith 14, Labuschagne 6) As the fielding restrictions change so does England’s attack with Wood replacing Willey. The speedster hurries up both batters without threatening to take a wicket. England continue to keep things tight. Australia are understandably playing within themselves.
“I’m considerably more than cautiously optimistic that the planets will align causing Pakistan to easily chase down 402 whilst England simultaneously bowl Oz out for less than 200 and knock them off in ten overs to stay in the tournament with a much improved NRR,” lies Kim Thonger.
10th over: Australia 48-2 (Smith 13, Labuschagne 5) Woakes goes for just one in an over that includes Labuschagne swinging and missing with all his might at a delivery that just shapes away in the air and goes further off the seam. Very good powerplay for England.
9th over: Australia 47-2 (Smith 12, Labuschagne 5) Much better from Labuschagne. Willey is a fraction full and Labuschagne keeps the maker’s name pointing towards the non-striker as the ball rockets off the bat and away for four. After the strike is rotated Smith takes an injudicious run that Bairstow should do much better with at cover and Australia escape. Is it just me, or did the future of fielding 20-25 years ago promise nailed-on direct hits to all ring fielders? Back during the Ponting/Rhodes/Collingwood emergence? Considering all the specialisation it still amazes me how few direct hits we see.
Meanwhile, over in the other match, New Zealand have tonked up 401 against Pakistan.
8th over: Australia 41-2 (Smith 11, Labuschagne 1) Australia have not to grips with this surface yet, continuing to play angled bat shots without getting anywhere near the middle of the stick. Smith is the latest to invite a play-on as Woakes gets one to just tail in a hair. Only two from the over as Australia dig in after those early setbacks.
7th over: Australia 39-2 (Smith 9, Labuschagne 1) Blimey! Labuschagne is inches from playing on, trying to guide Willey down to third. The bowler, left-arm over, slanting the ball across the right-handed batter, continues on the same line-and-length, keeping Australia’s No 4 honest at the crease and earning a maiden.
Kim Thonger has logged on. “My friend Charlie Palmer has messaged me from his macchiato and biscotti perch in Rome. ‘England think they are a chasing team! Which they are at the moment if the total is sub 120’. Before England give up entirely, if indeed we are in a simulation, what has occurred in this World Cup so far could be dismissed as a mere glitch in the matrix. Or perhaps the simulation creator is an Afghanistan supporter and this was all planned.” We need Eoin Morpheus back and Ianeo Bell to deal with Agent Smith. Good grief that was tortured. Sorry about that.
6th over: Australia 39-2 (Smith 9, Labuschagne 1) That was a good slower cutter from Woakes that deceived Warner who was through his shot too early. This is Australia’s first major test with the bat since they began their resurgence. With this pair at the crease expect a long phase of accumulation with few fireworks.
Woakes goes full so Warner smacks him back over his head for a six that requires cartoonish sparks and the smell of gunpowder to do full justice to. Woakes responds by pulling his length back, Warner can’t control himself and goes for another tonk but this time only slaps a high thick edge to the safe hands of Willey at midwicket. Australia have lost both openers.
5th over: Australia 32-1 (Warner 9, Smith 9) Willey is one delivery from completing another tight over but he finishes his work with a leg-stump half-volley that Smith whips behind square for a boundary.
Warner survives with ball-tracking indicating only a smidgen of the leg stump was at risk from a very good delivery.
David WIlley bowls an absolute pearler that cuts David Warner in half. There’s a noise as balls passes bat – LBW or caught behind? England thinks it’s something. Umpire Erasmus was not interested onfield.
4th over: Australia 26-1 (Warner 8, Smith 4) Another tight LBW appeal from Woakes to Smith with the Australian missing the ball this time after going on his jaunt to the offside. England consider a review but the margins were too fine to risk and replays indicate the batter would have survived. Warner, starved of the strike early on, then gets into his work with a couple of couples and a smeared pull-slog thing for four that was as effective as it was ugly.
“The pieces in your preamble – the Peter Cook quip, Jonathan Liew’s piece – reflect an ongoing problem, but I think I have the solution,” emails Colum Farrelly. I fear he’s setting me up. “England shouldn’t be allowed to win things,” yep, there’s the kicker. “After winning, they get cocky rather than focus on how they won. But if they didn’t win anything, this problem wouldn’t arise. Simples!” There is a future career writing for The Thick of It Colum, I like your work.
3rd over: Australia 15-1 (Warner 0, Smith 4) David Willey concedes only one run in an over that appeared to the naked eye to have gone for plenty.
“The Jos Buttler ‘interview’ might be a candidate for least promising Captain’s statement since poor Oates mentioned he might be a while as he left the tent,” emails Brian Withington. “Ominous.”
2nd over: Australia 14-1 (Warner 0, Smith 3) There’s an audible “Oof!” from Aaron Finch on the telly as Woakes is so so close to pinning Smith LBW on the crease. The Australian took his customary jaunt to the offside and the bowler almost angled the ball beyond the unconventional defence, only for an extremely awkward leading edge to glance the ball away behind square on the offside for a fortunate three.
Woakes starts more promisingly, getting one to hit the seam and wobble past Head’s tentative outside edge. But he follows that up with a wide half-volley that the Australian climbs into with violence, but again the soft outfield means it’s just two not four. Woakes returns to the spot he needn’t have relinquished – and he gets his man! Not enough width to cut and not enough length to steer but nonetheless Head tries for the delicate glide down to third, only to provide catching practice to Root at slip.
1st over: Australia 9-0 (Head 9 Warner 0) Head dabs the opening ball of the match for a couple in front of point. He played that with so much time it was like he was being generous to a young net bowler so as not to dent his confidence. Two balls later he larrups Willey over his head for what should have been four but it hits the green and spins down the false front. No bother, a ferocious whack outside off stump next ball makes the fence with ease. Australia are on their merry way.
John Burrell: “Is it the case of mates picking their mates with England? Maybe the team is a little too cliquey? Bowling first seems bizarre unless they just want to get out of India ASAP.”
It’s almost go time in the middle. Travis Head on strike, David Willey with the ball.
“Playing for pride doesn’t seem to work, but if we could help the Afghans to nick a semi place from the Aussies then the tournament wouldn’t be a complete write-off,” hopes Alex Cooper.
Regardless, Afghanistan deserve to be the story of the group phase and their success – and that of the Netherlands – has to be nurtured by the international cricket community.
It’s anthem time on the outfield. A chance to confirm that Australia will be top to toe in yellow, England studs to lids in blue.
For those just joining us, bottom-placed England named an unchanged XI after opting to field first in 35C Indian heat.
(Credit to Tom V d Gucht).
“Given the shambles their batting has been, why is Brooks not walking into the team straight away?” asks S Raman. “He could even replace an out of sorts Stokes.”
Meanwhile in domestic cricket:
“Excited to see which happens first,” emails Phil Russell, “England getting knocked out when New Zealand beat Pakistan, or England getting knocked out by losing to Australia. Suspect it will be the former given England have opted to bowl, unless declarations are allowed at the World Cup?” I don’t think we’ll see any declarations today Phil, after all, Australia’s po-faced batters don’t know the meaning of Bazball.
Today’s umpires are Chris Gaffaney (NZL) and Marais Erasmus (SAF).
This is the second match of the day. In the early starter New Zealand are doing their darnedest to eliminate Pakistan with Rachin Ravindra becoming the first man under 30 to hit three centuries in the same world cup.
It is fiercely hot, dry and airless at what Geoff Lemon has nicknamed the Big Bertha stadium in Ahmedabad. Air quality is on the borderline between moderate and poor. Fielding first is not going to be fun for England if they struggle to take early wickets.
There have been two matches at the venue this world cup so far. In the first New Zealand made a mockery of England’s 282, then India skipped past Pakistan’s 191 in the second to the delight of the most supporters in the history of cricket.
Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green come in for the concussed Glenn Maxwell and absent Mitch Marsh. Australia have still yet to play their preferred XI this world cup.
For what it’s worth, Pat Cummins would have batted first anyway.
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Travis Head, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Josh Inglis (wk), 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Cameron Green, 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
England are unchanged. That means the now-retired David Willey retains his place.
England: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Dawid Malan, 3 Joe Root, 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Jos Buttler (capt, wk), 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Liam Livingstone, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 David Willey, 10 Mark Wood, 11 Adil Rashid
“We’ve just got to play better cricket,” offers Jos Buttler at the toss, without being asked.
In more heartwarming news, Afghanistan stand to profit from England’s misery. Their victory over the Netherlands yesterday moved them into fifth place on the table with four wins and three defeats from their seven matches. Not only can Afghanistan still reach the knockout phase, the victory also guarantees them the top-seven finish required to compete in the 2025 Champions Trophy.
“In some ways, I wonder if Mott has played a blinder in terms of being able to introduce his own systems and ideas moving forward,” ponders Tom V d Gucht. “He inherited a team that was set up well and had enough credit in the bank to make it difficult for a new coach to make any significant changes. But, by letting them carry on until crumbling point, he’s given himself the freedom to start on a blank canvas.”
I don’t mind that as a line of thinking if the coach was, say, Eoin Morgan or an obvious long-term English project – but Mott feels very itinerant to me and the kind of easy scapegoat in a post tournament review.
Have you tasted enough pain yet? Well there’s plenty more where that came from. Like the decision not to award the now-retired-but-still-playing-today David Willey a central contract…
… or Ben Stokes going under the knife.
Mark Ramprakash takes us inside similar dressing rooms and ponders the role of England coach Matthew Mott.
England’s problems go a lot deeper than Mott, but now he needs to react to them. He arrived at the World Cup with the nucleus of a great, experienced side but under the relentless examination of competition it has proved not to be a strength at all. I didn’t see it coming, but from a distance what has happened looks slightly familiar. I’ve been involved in the past with successful teams full of experienced professionals, and I’ve seen how over time they can lose their edge. I’ve witnessed the disintegration of the very professionalism and dedication that allowed a group of people to achieve success. Sometimes it is age, sometimes it is attitude, but at some point, without realising, professional sportspeople can just go over the threshold.
Barney Ronay puts the men’s 50-over side’s humiliation in the context of wider problems in English cricket.
For all the talk, the PR initiatives, the glossy montages, four years on from those pre-Covid days cricket in England is still a shrinking summer pastime, largely invisible to the unconverted, walled up in its private garden. If anything it is more remote now, more niche. The real issue for the ECB is not that the England team is in a state of chaos, but that the wider world really doesn’t seem to care that the England team is in a state of chaos; that what we have here is a binfire in a vacuum.
Simon Burnton plays his analysis with a straight bat.
It is obvious now that England’s preparation for this tournament was inadequate.
One upside to England’s crapitulation is the quality writing it has generated. And there is no finer example than Jonathan Liew’s magnificent column on the topic.
But if you think about it, all of this really stems from one central issue, which you might call the Genius Fallacy. England essentially tried to win the 2023 World Cup by treating it as a 2019 tribute act, as if muscle memory and champion aura would do the rest. So you chase, because that’s what you did before. You pick most of the same guys, because that’s what you did before. You rip up your team balance to accommodate your retired all-rounder, who is – slight inconvenience – no longer an all‑rounder. Brydon Carse, your Liam Plunkett wig and costume is hanging in your locker. And you do this because on some level you have convinced yourselves that four years ago you discovered the secret to cricketing genius, and all you need to do is find the blueprints.
Hello everybody and welcome to live OBO coverage of match 36 of the 2023 Cricket World Cup. Australia v England will get under way in Ahmedabad at 2pm local time (7.30pm AEDT/8.30am GMT).
Newsflash: England have been “crap” so far in this world cup.
England’s crapness undercuts the tension of what should be one of the highlights of the group phase. These are, after all modern ODI heavyweights and historic rivals, going through a bitter phase in their relationship following a toxic Ashes series, one whose discharge continues to pollute the discourse.
We will riff on England’s world cup pain in depth shortly, but suffice to say here that they have already effectively been outed from the tournament after being outbatted, outbowled, outfielded, and outcaptained in a run of five defeats in six matches.
Meanwhile, after a slow start, Australia are beginning to believe they could replace their old enemy on the world cup trophy following four straight victories. A win today, with matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh to follow, will put the Aussies in a strong position heading into the semi-finals.
A stunning opening partnership between Travis Head and David Warner saw to New Zealand in their last outing, since when they’ve enjoyed a week’s rest and recuperation.
But that hasn’t gone according to plan with both Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell missing out today for different reasons, introducing an element of uncertainty.
That should do for now, so settle in while I steer you through the pregame and first innings, after which Tanya Aldred will see you through to the end of play.
If you’d like to get in touch while I’m on, please fire all communication to [email protected].