Flintoff demands more
Captain Andrew Flintoff admitted it is up to England’s senior players to stop the rot after Australia inflicted a pre-Ashes defeat which virtually ended their ICC Champions Trophy hopes.
A batting collapse saw England slump from 83 without loss to 169 all out at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur as they failed to bat the full 50 overs for the second game in succession.
Twice they have been rolled over cheaply on the same pitch in Group A losses to India and now Australia.
Damien Martyn celebrated his 35th birthday with a stylish 78 as Australia cantered home in 36.5 overs.
It means England are almost certainly out of the tournament and extended their run to 19 defeats in their past 24 completed matches against Test opposition.
“It is not for a lack of trying,” Flintoff declared. “We are a young side and the senior players have to step up if we have any aspirations of doing well this winter.
“We want to do well in the World Cup - it is a massive tournament - and we are disappointed we might not progress here.
“We took this game in isolation - it was a must-win game for both sides - and I am sure people will read a lot into it.
“But from our point of view it was a one-day international and the Ashes will start when we get to Australia in three weeks’ time.”
Fast bowler Steve Harmison misfired once again with ball in hand as he followed his 20-run opening over against India by having his first three deliveries hit for four by Martyn.
Flintoff launched a staunch defence of his colleague and close friend, however, adding: “Everyone in the team tries and it is just unfortunate that you do not perform every day.
“But it is a collective effort. We take it on our shoulders as a team and do not point fingers. As a team we did not click.”
Everything Ponting did seemed to work as five times bowling changes resulted in England losing a wicket.
“It was a great performance from us, especially fighting hard with the ball after it didn’t go for us early on,” said Ponting, who began the day by winning the toss.
“It ended up a comfortable win which was very satisfying for all of us.”
Australia also showed their plans for England’s power batsmen this winter as short balls unsettled Kevin Pietersen and Flintoff.
Pietersen nicked a full one from Mitchell Johnson after the previous ball hit the splice, while Flintoff was caught in the deep hooking at Shane Watson.
“You try to get match-ups for certain players and it mostly worked for us today,” said Ponting.
“A lot of their players like to play that shot and at certain times during that last series we felt the grounds were quite small in England and the ball popped over our heads.
“The grounds are going to be a lot bigger in Australia and we might have some success with that there.
“For Johnson to blast out Pietersen the way he did was just what we needed at that stage and he gives us a lot more firepower through the middle of the innings.”