Rain wrecks Twenty20 opener
Rain prevented a result in the first NatWest Twenty20 international between England and Australia.
England survived Cameron White’s brutal assault to restrict the tourists to an apparently manageable 145 for four.
But the dark clouds which loomed over Old Trafford for much of the innings opened as the players left the field, and, though they relented to allow seven balls of England’s reply, they returned to end any prospect of play.
That was enough time for England to slip to four for two, yet a large chunk of a sell-out crowd in Manchester had left the ground before play was finally abandoned at 6.05pm.
White’s 55 off just 36 balls formed the centrepiece of the Australia total on a cracked pitch offering pace and bounce but also sufficient movement to encourage the seamers.
It was notable that Paul Collingwood was the most successful England bowler, the captain taking two wickets in three balls en route to figures of 2-20 from four overs.
David Warner was his first victim, the left-handed opener having supplied much of the early momentum with 33 off 26 balls.
Australia were also thankful for Michael Clarke’s measured unbeaten 27, the stand-in skipper helping add 78 off just 60 balls with White for the fourth wicket.
Although Luke Wright spilled a simple chance at long-on to reprieve Adam Voges off the penultimate delivery of the innings, England will have arguably been the happier of the two sides as they left the field amid a gentle shower.
However, that notion was undermined by the loss of two wickets inside the first seven balls when England replied.
Joe Denly, hurried into a pull by Brett Lee, spooned a catch to Nathan Hauritz at square-leg, and Ravi Bopara's attempt at a cut off Mitchell Johnson's first legitimate delivery found only Shane Watson at first slip.
It was the last action before the rain which caused an extended tea interval returned to force the players off. Although the skies cleared momentarily to arouse hope of a restart, it proved to be a false dawn.
England's start contrasted sharply with Australia's, as Warner scored at comfortably quicker than a run a ball.
He whipped James Anderson off his hips before twice making room to cut Stuart Broad four four, but England’s tactic of bowling short yielded the wicket of Watson, who miscued a pull off Broad to midwicket, where Bopara took a smart catch running to his left.
Collingwood’s decision to bring himself into the attack also paid off; he accounted for Warner and David Hussey in quick succession in his second over.
If Warner was a tad unfortunate to be adjudged lbw sweeping – the ball appeared to pitch outside leg stump – Hussey’s dismissal after a charge down the track and unsightly heave was no more than he deserved.
Clarke and White set about repairing the damage, watchfully at first as England’s almost constant bowling changes helped prevent them finding their range.
White was put down by a diving Denly at backward point when he had made just 12 – a rare aberration in an otherwise efficient England fielding display – but he rode his luck to dominate a half-century stand to which Clarke contributed just 15.
Broad was swung into the stand at midwicket by White to take Australia into three figures in the 16th over, before Graeme Swann was dispatched over long-on and Ryan Sidebottom into the pavilion as White went to a 33-ball fifty containing a solitary four.
He drove to Collingwood at extra-cover, chasing a wide delivery from Broad – bowling around the wicket to a 7-2 off-side field – and Wright’s fumble on the boundary contributed to Australia adding 52 in the last five overs.