Australia paid for a wayward bowling performance with defeat to England in its final warm-up for the World Twenty20 despite the valiant batting of Mike Hussey, who will feature in the nightmares of a rookie England spinner throughout the tournament.
Hussey smashed three consecutive sixes and a four off Danny Briggs, a left-arm orthodox bowler from the Isle of Wight, and made 71 from 51 balls at number three. But his departure in the 17th over, lbw to Stuart Broad, left the lower order with too much to do to chase down England’s total of 6-172.
Glenn Maxwell (18 from 13) and captain George Bailey both perished in the quest for quick runs.
The Australians needed 22 from the last over and that proved beyond the reach of Matthew Wade and Dan Christian. Australia lost by nine runs, having beaten New Zealand comfortably in its earlier practice game against New Zealand.
Australia’s seam-dependent bowling contingent has plenty of work to do before Wednesday’s first game of the tournament against Ireland.
Every bowler, with the exception of Maxwell whose solitary over of off-spin produced three runs, conceded more than eight an over. And Australia’s frontline spinner, 41-year-old Brad Hogg, was comfortably outbowled by England’s main spinner Graeme Swann, whose four overs produced 1-21.
Spin looms as the major problem for Australia, facing it and bowling it. Hogg claimed 2-39 but his first wicket came from a long hop after Luke Wright had smashed him for two fours and a six. It was the result of an excellent, lunging catch from Cameron White at deep square leg.
Starc, who was rested for the previous game against New Zealand, strayed down the leg side in his opening spell but still had opener Craig Kieswetter caught at deep mid-off and later captured the wicket of Jos Buttler, the rising star who recently pummelled South African paceman Wayne Parnell for 32 runs in an over.
Alex Hales, a tall opening batsman, top-scored for England with 52 and was caught pulling Hogg to mid-wicket.
The good news after Australia’s unconvincing bowling effort is that the young pace prodigy Pat Cummins is certain to return for Australia’s first World Twenty20 game against Ireland on Wednesday.
Victorian seamer Clint McKay seems the man most likely to make way for Cummins although he he possesses the variations to excel on Sri Lankan pitches and has made a solid comeback in his first two games since spending a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
The Australian chase began poorly when David Warner was caught at backward point for a duck in a fine first over from Steven Finn, who had beaten the bat of both Warner and Watson.
Watson soon got his eye in, crunching Finn, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad fox sixes before he was bowled trying to sweep the off-spin of Swann for 30 from 16 balls.
Cameron White also succumbed to spin. He charged Briggs and was stumped for 9.
Axed batsman David Hussey was again overlooked, leaving the world’s most successful Twenty20 batsman facing an uncertain international future.
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