Lessons Learned from the Second T20 Between Australia and England at the MCG
The final leg of this interminable tour is coming to an end, and England have lost the T20 series.
In an utterly one-sided affair, Australia dominated from ball one and emerged deserved winners, with Cameron White, George Bailey and James Muirhead the star performers.
Click Next to read Freddie Wilde's match notes.
England Show the World How Not to Bat
England's innings was in many ways a demonstration of how not to bat in a T20.
They misjudged the pitch which was nothing like the flat, quick offering in Hobart two days previously, and with enormous boundaries, the 200 scores of Hobart weren't going to be replicated here. However, perhaps due to a fear of Australia's powerful batting, Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Luke Wright, and in fact the whole batting order batted with a terrible sense of rushed urgency and panic, failing to build an innings, failing to rotate the strike, and failing to adopt the right method.
They went hard and fast at the ball with little imagination to their play, looking to bludgeon the ball to the boundary, rather, than as Australia later did, time the ball with more cultured shots.
There's a time and a place for power hitting, but today was not that day, and England's fear of Australia and misjudgement of the pitch contributed to overzealous attack, and an under-par total.
Aside from an early dropped catch by Glenn Maxwell, Australia fielded superbly, and bowled excellently. Maxwell's run out of Joe Root was jaw-dropping, while young leg-spinner James Muirhead bowled with really impressive control and gained considerable purchase on a pitch which did offer a bit for the spinners.
Australia Show England How to Bat
Australia's innings was always going to be easier than England's once they were chasing an under-par target. However, the approach of Aaron Finch, Cameron White and George Bailey was the contrast of England's panicked attack. They batted instead with controlled aggression and intelligent methods.
It is undoubtedly harder for England to play and bat with a level head and calmness in the light of this horror tour, but Australia are doing everything England aren't right now.
The Dernbach Problem
Jade Dernbach suffered another torrid day at the hands of Australia's batsmen. After going for 50 from his four overs in Hobart, the Surrey bowler was struck for 42 from just three overs today and engaged in a futile war of words with White as his bowling was flayed to all parts.
Dernbach has played precious little cricket in the lead-up to this series, in fact, he hadn't bowled competitively since September 11th before this series, and that does make you wonder a, why he's been picked in the first place, and b, why he's played no cricket in between. There are plenty of club sides in Australia who Dernbach could have linked up with, it is both a fault of him and the management that he hasn't been handled more effectively.
It must be said however that although he has struggled badly here, and indeed in ODI cricket for England, his recent international T20 form hasn't been that bad; albeit spread over a year, and there is thus reason, although tenuous reason considering his lack of cricket, for his selection.
If he is still in England's World T20 plans he should play in the final match. If not, then focus should move elsewhere, although the relative lack of alternative options in the pace department is a problem.
England Are Worried About Danny Briggs
England are having trouble producing a spinner for the next generation, so cautious with regards to the potential is thus to be expected. However, dropping Danny Briggs for James Tredwell is not the kind of move that will fill young Briggs with confidence.
Briggs was punished at Hobart on a flat pitch with tiny boundaries, and he struggled in T20s in England too. However, this MCG pitch was conducive to turn and with larger boundaries could have been perfect for Briggs to regain some of his lost confidence.
In reality, he was perhaps lucky to avoid the wrath of Australia's batsmen chasing a small total, but the principle, with the World T20 in the spin-friendly Bangladesh imminent, was something that boded well for the future.