One of the things that has perturbed touring teams and their supporters ‘back home’ is the lack of preparation offered by the home ‘board of control’; not only the lack of preparation but also the quality provided.
The Australian one-day side is making a short tour of England to play five one-day internationals against England (to help swell the coffers?) starting on Wednesday at the Oval. It’s only a matter of weeks since these two sides did battle down under in a one day series so why now? Other than filling the international fixture list and grabbing the income, I suppose the main aim has to be to promote the England one day side (ranked the best in the world at the moment?) in advance of the ICC World Cup which will be in full swing this time next year.
So, England are preparing by trying to play cricket against Scotland whilst the Australians have two warm up games – against Sussex on Thursday and Middlesex yesterday (June 9).
What can we learn from this and in particularly the Middlesex match -well, in essence nothing!
Australia were using the match as pure practice and warm up (fully understood) and Middlesex used the opportunity to play a mix of first and second XI players against some reputedly world class opposition. Of the batting Maxwell failed to get a score when he needs one (will probably come good very soon), Marsh S, Head and Finch performed as expected whilst the Middlesex bowling left something to be desired and Finn did not improve his England recall chances at all; it’s regrettable but I think his England days are over (his strike rate was phenomenal) – fallen from grace after another visit to Australia last winter and not re-appearing on any radar but that would augur well for Middlesex for a few years, although Lancashire have been in his thoughts it seems.
Middlesex batted like a mix of the standards that they are and collapsed at the end to lose by 101 runs. Of the Australian bowling, they too here are into the second string since their main Ashes victors are injured or resting. Billy Stanlake is quicker than he looks, Neser probably more of a handful and the two Richardsons – not related it seems…after all who gives their offspring names of Jhye Avon? The latter from WA where, I recall from native Australians, that they regard any Australian west of Adelaide as ‘odd’ (am being polite and paraphrasing!).
But I saw nothing that should worry England over the next five encounters, Australia are ‘up for it’ notwithstanding all DIY ribaldry that will come their way, but as Lyon replied when asked did he had sandpaper in his pockets, his reply was ‘no mate, just the Ashes!’ Ouch!
Overall an enjoyable day and the chance to become re-acquainted with some Aussie Ashes heros and more practice at watching one day matches.
A few snaps…