Records Galore as England Thrash Australia

George Dobell, in ESPNcricinfo,

England 481 for 6 (Hales 147, Bairstow 139) beat Australia 239 (Rashid 4-47, Moeen 3-28) by 242 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

England thrashed the highest score in the history of ODI cricket to set up the most crushing defeat – in terms of runs – ever inflicted upon Australia.

On the same Trent Bridge ground where they plundered the previous record – 444 for 3 against Pakistan in August 2016 in the most recent completed ODI on the ground – England thrashed 21 sixes and 41 fours in becoming the first side to reach 450 in ODI history. Only once in the 56-year history of List A cricket – when Surrey scored 496 for 4 against Gloucestershire at The Oval  in 2007 – has any side scored more.

The result means England have taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series. Australia have now lost five ODI series in succession and eight of their last nine ODIs against England. Indeed, they have won only two of their last 16 ODIs against all opponents. It is the first time England have won back-to-back ODI series against Australia since 1986-87 and, with two games to go, they now have a chance to complete their first 5-0 whitewash over them. They won 4-0 in 2012 with one game abandoned due to poor weather.

The foundation of England’s total was high-class centuries from Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales and the quickest half-century in their ODI history from Eoin Morgan. For Bairstow, in magnificent form, it was his fourth ODI century in six innings and his sixth in 19 since his recall less than a year ago. He now has the highest batting average – 65.76 – of any man to open in ODI cricket on more than 10 occasions. The fact he is one of only two men in the top 50 of that list with a strike-rate in excess of 100 (his is 114.19) demonstrates how well he is batting. The fact that the other is his opening partner, Jason Roy, demonstrates how the game has developed and how England have been at the vanguard of that change.

The pair combined perfectly here. With Roy murderous against the short ball – he played a hook in the opening overs that travelled far enough to require a visa – and Bairstow in the sort of form that makes a length delivery an opportunity to drive or pull, they posted an opening stand of 159 in 19.3 overs; the 10th highest opening partnership against Australia in ODI history.

There were a couple of nervous moments. Australia called for a review when they thought they detected an inside edge on one from Stanlake that nipped back at Roy (replays showed the ball brushed his trousers), while Bairstow was dropped on 30 by Marcus Stoinis running back from mid-off and reprieved on review having been given out leg before attempting to sweep Ashton Agar.

Those moments apart, this was one-way traffic. On the sort of pitch that most batsmen would like to whisk to Paris for the weekend – and most bowlers would like to never see again – England gorged and feasted on runs until they dripped down their chins.

Hales soon dispelled any thought that the wicket of Roy – attempting an unwise second run – would ease Australia’s pain. A day after he had admitted – quite rightly – that he was likely to be the man to make way once Ben Stokes returned, he provided a strong case for his retention with a 62-ball century; the sixth-fastest in England’s history, all of which have come since the 2015 World Cup. Back on his home ground – the ground where he thrashed 171 against Pakistan in 2016 – he showed tremendous power but also nice placement and shot selection. Nearly two-thirds of his runs were heaved through – or over – the leg side.

It looked, for a while, as if England might reach 500. Despite losing Bairstow, heaving down the throat of deep midwicket, and Jos Buttler, deceived by a slower ball, Morgan thrashed a 21-ball half-century. Having recovered from the back spasm that kept him out of the Cardiff match, Morgan not only recorded the quickest fifty in England’s ODI history but passed Ian Bell’s record to become England’s most prolific ODI run-scorer in the process.

While Australia tried just about everything in the field – going round the wicket, bowling short, bowling full, even trying eight bowlers – none of it made much difference. AJ Tye, who became just the 11th man to concede 100 in an ODI innings and just the fourth to do so in fewer than 10 overs, had the ugliest figures but this was a day all of them will wake up screaming about in years to come.

Australia’s reply started well enough. D’Arcy Short carved David Willey’s first ball for six and his second for four, while Travis Head brushed off a painful blow from a Mark Wood bouncer (Wood exceeded 91 mph in that first spell) to help Australia keep up with the rate for the first 12 overs.

But that target – that vast target – required endless risk-taking. And after Short chipped one to mid-on, Head poked a return catch to Moeen Ali and Shaun Marsh lofted to long-on. Aaron Finch, attempting to repeat a six clobbered over long-on, was deceived by one nicely held back by Adil Rashid (Finch, moved into the middle-order to combat spin, has been dismissed by it three times in 13 balls this series) and Marcus Stoinis attempted an unwise second to Bairstow’s arm in the deep. By the time Glenn Maxwell was brilliantly caught at long-on by a leaping Liam Plunkett, it was clear this was to be a rout. Never had England won by such a large run margin in ODI cricket. England’s spinners – a key point of difference between the sides in this series – finished with seven wickets between them.

Are such conditions – white balls offering little lateral movement and surfaces offering certainty of pace and carry – good for the game? The debate will continue. Certainly there were aspects of this match – mostly some outrageous hitting – that created an entertaining and memorable spectacle. And there is no doubt that the groundstaff at Trent Bridge have produced exactly what was asked of them. We can expect more of this – and not just at Trent Bridge – during next year’s World Cup.

There is, though, an inflationary aspect to boundaries. At some stage, they begin to lose just a little of their novelty and, perhaps, appeal. Suffice to say, all pretence of maintaining a balance between bat and ball disappears in such circumstances. Bowlers compete in much the same way a clay pigeon does when someone goes shooting. It was a remarkable day’s cricket, but you wouldn’t want every day to be like this.

There are a couple more caveats, too. This Australia attack, missing at least three first-choice seamers as it is, is not the strongest and the relatively short boundaries meant that, a couple of times, top-edges carried for sixes. On Australian grounds they may have gone to hand.

But there have been weaker attacks and shorter boundaries. This was still an incredible effort from a remarkable England batting line-up that is playing wonderfully fearless, innovative and powerful cricket. As this series has progressed, it has become hard to fathom how roles have reversed since the 2015 World Cup when one of these sides lifted the trophy and the other was humiliated. It will amount to little until England do it in a global tournament but you can be sure that no side – and certainly no bowling attack – will relish facing them in conditions like this.

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