England Deaf into second final
England Deaf continued their unbeaten Ashes tour, reaching Wednesday’s Twenty20 Tri-Series final courtesy of victories over South Africa and Australia today at Geelong Grammar School.
Having beaten both in one-day internationals to book a place in Thursday’s 50-over showdown, when they will play the hosts, Umesh Valjee’s side repeated the feat in the shortest form.
They saw off South Africa by just six runs before a 50-run thrashing of Australia, with whom they drew the one-off Ashes Test last week.
Valjee, who had scored three centuries in his four previous innings of the tour, initially maintained that form as he and James Schofield punished the Proteas’ decision to insert England by adding 50 at 10 an over.
However, when Valjee was caught off Shane Gangan for 17 and Schofield bowled by Sharmiel Howley for 31, the momentum was lost
Panic set in among the middle order and they slipped to 78 for six in the 11th over.
Andrew Wood was run out, Matt Everett caught off Howley, George Greenway bowled for a second-ball duck by Avinash Kallichurian and Paul Allen caught off Jeffrey van der Winter.
Daryl Sykes and James Dixon put on 13 before England lost their last four wickets with the score on 91.
Van der Winter, who took 3-10 in three overs, had Sykes caught behind for 12 and dismissed Chris Hughes first ball in the same manner. Dixon and Stephen George were then run out.
South Africa began their pursuit cautiously and George struck in the fourth over when Liam Backhurst took a smart catch to dismiss Ricardo Peters.
Two more wickets quickly fell as Dixon had Gangan caught and Neil Smuts was run out by Valjee’s clever thinking to leave South Africa 26 for three after eight overs.
Eric Minaar and Rual Kumalo put on 40 before part-time bowler Hughes cleaned up the former for 23 with the score 66.
With the Proteas needing 26 from the last four overs, George bowled Rual Kumalo and Kallichurian before Dixon had Howley held for 12.
Wicketkeeper Wood ran out Colin Venter and Andre van Rooyen, leaving 10 required from the final over from which Dixon conceded only three.
England were also asked to bat first in their second game but this time produced a better performance, despite Matt Shenton having Valjee caught and bowled and Everett taken behind early on.
When Wood was held off Luke Trudgett with the total on 27, visions of the morning’s collapse came flooding back for the tourists.
However, Allen dominated a mature partnership of 55 with Schofield before being held off Ross Churchyard for 40 from only 31 balls.
Greenway and Schofield constructed another half-century alliance before home captain Kym Daley had the latter held for a patient 42.
Greenway took 14 from the last over, including a six over long-off, as he finished unbeaten on 36 in a total of 154 for five.
Australia’s chase began badly as Trudgett lifted Sykes to Backhurst at midwicket and Dixon bowled Justin Bergin for nought in the first two overs.
Worse followed for the hosts as Churchyard was run out at the non-striker’s end and Adam Vero caught off Stefan Pichowski's second ball to leave them 24 for four from seven overs.
Bradley Trudgett and the classy Daley responded with a steady 60-run stand before the former was stumped off Pichowski for 33.
Dixon had Grant Thompson caught and bowled before Shenton and Daley were run out - the skipper for 42 by Everett’s superb direct - effectively ending Australia's hopes.
Tim Regan was also short of his ground and number 11 Mark Theodossiou was lbw first ball for the third consecutive innings.