Although Ian Bell was named man of the match on his home ground, he paid tribute to a “massive” day for James Anderson who became England’s leading one-day international wicket-taker.
Bell’s 91 was his best ODI score at Edgbaston and played a major part in setting up a score of 269 for six after Alastair Cook chose to bat first in the Champions Trophy Group A opener.
However, the first of Anderson’s three wickets - which came in his eighth over - took him clear of former team-mate Darren Gough after they were both on 234 wickets going into this game.
Anderson was not the only bowler whose efforts Bell highlighted - Stuart Broad and James Tredwell, who replaced the injured Graeme Swann, were others - but Anderson’s 3-30 was crucial in limiting Australia to 221 for nine.
"The first 10 overs was going to be important for us; the best time to bat on that wicket was with the hard new ball, and the way Jimmy and Broady set the tone for us with the accuracy - and the way the guys dived round the field - was very important for us," said Bell.
"We knew the longer the innings went on with the ball getting softer, there'd be turn for Tredwell and we'd be able to keep it nice and tight in the middle to late overs.
"The first 10 overs were outstanding from Jimmy and it's great for us to be able to celebrate him becoming the leading wicket-taker as well. It's been a massive day for him.”
Bell experienced first-hand how scoring became more difficult as an innings wore on. Having put on a sprightly fifty partnership with opening partner Cook, he had to work harder during his century alliance with Jonathan Trott.
Even after Trott fell at 168 for two, England were eyeing 300-plus. But Bell’s wicket forced them to adjust and they were eventually grateful to Ravi Bopara’s unbeaten 46 from 37 balls.
"At 35 overs I think we were looking at 300. It was an extremely dry pitch for here. A lot more so than we usually play on,” Bell added.
"Up front it was a lot easier with the new and it just got harder and harder. Obviously (we’re) a little disappointed not to get 300 but it was in our sights.”
Bell admitted that home advantage in the Champions Trophy should aid England’s judgements of first-innings totals, yet he cited the recent NatWest Series loss to New Zealand as evidence for a level playing field.
"We certainly have an advantage being at home, but that counts for nothing - you still have to play good cricket,” he said.
“New Zealand showed us that in the one-day series; if we don't play to our potential there are eight very good teams here who can win the competition.”
George Bailey, who led Australia in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke, thought victory was there for the taking when England failed to post 300.
“I was pretty happy at the halfway mark,” said Bailey, who was fined along with his team-mates for a slow over-rate.
“I still think I’d take 270; 270 was definitely gettable on that. It was a good cricket wicket.
“They bowled very, very well - made it very hard for us to get any momentum with the bat.”
Like Bell, Bailey’s highest praise of the England bowlers was for Anderson who exhibited conventional and reverse-swing.
“He’s so skilful; he’s got the record he’s got because of the skills he has,” Bailey added.
“The fact that he started reversing it, no issues with that - we were expecting that.
“For him then not to give you anything on the pads, just to be so accurate is testament to the bowler he is and how important he is to the England team.”