Trott shows all-round worth
Jonathan Trott starred with bat and then ball as England kept the Commonwealth Bank Series alive courtesy of a 21-run win over Australia in Adelaide.
Beaten in the first three games and faced with the prospect of surrendering the series on Australia Day, England responded with comfortably their most impressive one-day performance of the tour.
Trott was central to that. If there was a measure of inevitability about his century, coming as it did three days after he made 84 not out in a losing cause at Sydney, few could have predicted him claiming two key wickets as England defended a total of 299 for eight with considerable ease.
Trott finished with 2-31, his maiden ODI wickets the perfect complement to a measured 102 off 126 balls. It was his second hundred in a format in which he now averages 54.
His was the most notable performance in a disciplined bowling display that also saw James Anderson, returning to the side after being rested, claim 2-57.
Although Shane Watson made an occasionally explosive 64, Trott’s dismissal of David Hussey and Cameron White in quick succession all but ended any hope of a fifth straight Australia win in limited-overs cricket.
A rapid unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 77 between Steven Smith and Brett Lee could thus be described as irrelevant and England’s victory as more comprehensive than the winning margin suggests.
Whereas there was precious little support for Trott with the bat on Sunday, today England were thankful for Matt Prior’s dashing 58-ball 67 at the top of the order and a late charge in which Michael Yardy and Paul Collingwood featured prominently.
England’s performance with the bat was far from flawless - seven of the eight wickets fell to Hussey and Smith, spinners hardly fit enough to lace Shane Warne’s boots - but the manner in which their bowlers restricted a confident Australia side on a dry yet reliable surface warrants high praise.
Prior’s departure to Smith signalled the end of an eye-catching second-wicket stand of 113 with Trott - and the start of a sequence that saw England slip from 136 for one to 158 for four. The fluency of his batting, however, surely went some way to answering the criticism that accompanied two ducks in two games.
The response of Prior and Trott to seeing Andrew Strauss edge Lee behind in the third over was as entertaining as it was brave.
Five fours came off eight balls during one particularly thrilling period as Prior, driving with typical panache through and over the off side, and the more wristy Trott laid into Doug Bollinger and Watson.
In keeping with England’s performances in this series, there were run-out opportunities. Trott, on 22 and then 30, found himself at the same end as his partner after failing to react to a call for a dead-batted single, but on both occasions managed to get himself in the way of the throw as he scampered to the non-striker’s end.
Prior, confident enough to advance down the track to Lee after bringing up a 39-ball half-century with a pulled six off the same bowler, eventually perished when he cut Smith tamely to Xavier Doherty at backward point.
His was the first of three quick wickets, with Kevin Pietersen holing out at long-on and Ian Bell caught behind cutting in the space of three deliveries from Smith.
His running aside, Trott’s hundred was typically composed - it contained just six fours - but that is not to say he did not score freely: a combination of deft placement, punched drives and the occasional pull meant his second 50 spanned just 52 deliveries.
England were forced to revise their ambitions when Trott chopped on aiming to hit Hussey through cover, and Eoin Morgan - his partner in a 66-run stand for the fifth wicket stand - reverse-swept the off-spinner to a leaping Lee at point.
Collingwood, shunted down to number seven to accommodate the fit-again Pietersen, hinted at a return to form as he and Yardy flayed 56 off 41 balls, including 14 off successive overs from Lee and Bollinger.
He was caught at deep midwicket attempting a repeat of the slog-sweep that took him to 5,000 ODI runs - the first Englishman to achieve the feat - but Yardy’s leg-side heaves helped negate the loss of Ajmal Shahzad in the final over.
Brad Haddin had already survived two scares by the time he drove Chris Tremlett to cover early in the sixth over of Australia's chase, and Shaun Marsh was similarly indecisive in offering Anderson a simple return catch next over.
The woefully out-of-touch Michael Clarke was cleaned up by a Collingwood off-cutter before Watson went to a 54-ball half-century that contained a mighty mow for six off Tremlett.
His was the wicket England craved most, and Shahzad delivered when he located Watson’s edge, albeit courtesy of a needlessly extravagant drive.
White and Hussey may have put on 60 inside 12 overs, but the required run-rate had climbed to eight an over by the time the latter lifted Trott to Bell at long-off.
An ugly swipe to long-on was a fitting end to White’s streaky innings of 44, and Anderson hurried John Hastings into a pull moments later to leave Australia 201 for seven.
Smith and Lee may have enjoyed themselves to the tune of 46 and 39 not out, yet England’s position was such that even the non run-out of Lee - TV replays, had they been used, would have shown him short of his ground - mattered not a jot.