Hopes hails swing in momentum
Australia all-rounder James Hopes believes the tourists have halted England’s Ashes momentum after opening the NatWest Series with a win.
The four-run victory at the Brit Oval sends Australia into tomorrow’s second match at Lord’s 1-0 ahead in the seven-match campaign.
Australian were mindful of derailing England early on in the limited-overs contests with the hosts already on the crest of a wave following the 2-1 Test series win.
“For us it was very important,” said Hopes. “It stops the spiral. If we’d started off with a loss it could have been ‘here we go again’. But we’ve kick-started the one-day series again and now tomorrow becomes very important.
“It’s a short turnaround between games, so the first hour and a half will be very important.”
Hopes, who has become a permanent fixture in world champions Australia’s one-day team over the past two years, provided impetus with both bat and ball yesterday.
His unbeaten 18, off just 12 deliveries, helped Australia to 260 for five and he then sent down an economical spell of 5-1-14-0 to escalate England’s required run rate.
Having lost to world number one side South Africa both home and away earlier this year, Australia have learned one-day internationals can be snatched away by opponents late in the piece.
But despite a late rally from England’s lower order, they held on this time to extend the winning sequence developed with a 3-2 win over Pakistan in between.
“We thought we were in control, but always at the back of our minds was what happened against South Africa a couple of times when we thought we were in a pretty good position and then they’d take the batting powerplay and come over us at the end,” said Hopes.
“We are pleased to come out with a win, it doesn’t matter by how much, four runs is enough, and we are full of confidence.”
Just as in the Ashes, however, there appears to be little between England and Australia in the 50-over format.
“We have very similar make-ups in our teams,” Queenslander Hopes, 30, said. “We have a lot of guys who bat and lots who bowl so you will see a lot of games like last night.
“You can have a team six down and they can still score seven an over. Some other teams you get six or seven down and you are virtually home. I think you consider England to have more fight in them at the moment partly because they have just won the Ashes.
“They are going to have a bit more momentum than us at the moment, but hopefully we got a bit of that back last night.”
Australia also paid new England leg-spinner Adil Rashid plenty of respect during his 10 overs at the Oval, which cost only 37 runs.
“After a couple of overs it was always our plan to try and make him go without any wickets and try and take confidence away from him that way,” Hopes admitted. “He’s still very young and we’ll keep taking note of him.
“If they keep producing dry wickets then he’ll be hard to play, but if we get him on a wicket that doesn’t suit we’ll find out about him.”