England head in to Monday’s 40 over final unbeaten after edging past Australia thanks to a 46-run eighth-wicket stand between Cheshire’s Jack Perry and Surrey’s Tayler Young at Tattenhall Cricket Club.
Young launched the last ball of the match straight down the ground for six to clinch the three-wicket win with five overs to spare and ensured that Australia remain without a win in the series so far.
Boyd Duffield’s unbeaten half-century had guided Australia to a competitive total of 170, but it was one that was ultimately chased down by Young, who earlier took 3-12 from his eight overs.
“It was a good win, we were a bit under pressure but we bounced back from that little hiccough in the middle overs and it was great to get over the line,” Young said.
“I was under pressure with the bat, I haven’t been in the middle lately. I was a bit nervous but luckily it came off really nicely.
“Once I’d hit the couple of sixes and nudged the ones I knew that we would get the target and we were confident that we could get there.”
England appeared to break the back of their target with a classy half-century stand for the opening wicket between Chris Edwards and Jonny Gale. The pair brought up their 50 partnership in the 10th over but were separated three balls later as Edwards left alone a straight one from David Alford and departed for 16.
Gale was also on his way shortly after for 33 when he picked out Duffield off Haydn Brumm. Their decision to change the batting order then played into Australia’s hands as Lee Stenning and Dan Levey were dismissed for 5 and 10 respectively – Levey becoming Wilson’s first victim.
At 98-4 in the 22nd over, needing another 73 to win, the game was firmly in the balance. Dan Bowser strode to the crease with the weight of expectation on his shoulders after his blistering 52-ball century against South Africa yesterday.
But he was on the receiving end of a searing Yorker from Wilson to depart for just five and Australia sensed victory. When Ronnie Jackson also went a couple of overs later, England were 115-6 with their 171 target seeming a long way off.
Wilson picked up his third by dismissed his namesake Thomas Wilson for a well-made 20 on his debut for England Learning Disability.
But England weren’t to be beaten, with that superb stand between Perry, who was dropped by Luke Goodman on six, and Young seeing them home.
Young was delighted with his efforts and believes his side are full of confidence ahead of the final.
“I set the tone nicely with the ball and I couldn’t be happier with the way I bowled really,” he said.
“I’ve been working on that extra pace through the winter and it’s nice to have been working so hard and it to have paid off and I’m getting the rewards.
“We have loads of confidence in our team. We have a rest day on Saturday and then we go again on Monday and try to win that match.”
Having won the toss first thing and put Australia in to bat, skipper Chris Edwards will have been delighted to make early inroads when Surrey seamer Young ripped through Brett Wilson’s defences in the third over to leave Australia 7-1.
It was a cautious and defensive approach from the Australians who progressed to 23-1 after seven overs. But three glorious boundaries from captain Gavan Hicks in the eighth over threatened to get their innings up and running.
Young had other ideas though and picked up the second wicket when Brumm was caught behind for four off the final ball of the ninth over. When Young also removed Westlake for a duck with the first ball of the 11th over, the fast bowler found himself on a hattrick.
It was survived by David Alford but Young had bowled back-to-back wicket-maidens and would finish his opening spell with figures of 7-2-11-3.
Australia were struggling at 48-3 and it soon became even worse when Devonian Dan Bowser, fresh from his 52-ball century yesterday, struck in his first over with the ball in the series.
The left-arm spinner bowled Alford for 0 and in his next over bowled the dangerous Hicks, who had played a lone hand and made a fine 39 from 51 balls.
At 82-5, Australia needed a partnership and found one as Boyd Duffield and David Baird put on a 50 stand for the sixth wicket, bringing up the milestone in the 24th over. They pushed Australia past 100 but Baird was on his way for 19, becoming Lancashire’s Thomas Wilson’s first victim on his debut for England’s Learning Disability team.
When Bowser returned to bowl Lachlan McRae for a duck, his third wicket, Australia were 111-7 with 10 overs of their innings remaining.
But Duffield was to prove the standout star of the innings, making a superb half-century from 74 balls. He would lose his partner Luke Goodman but finished the innings on an unbeaten 66 from 94 balls. Duffield has guided his side to a competitive total of 170-8.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to see off England and Australia head into Saturday’s clash with South Africa needing a win to reach the final and take on England at Neston Cricket Club.
“It is frustrating today, there were lots of positives but we pushed England so close and it’s frustrating that we couldn’t close it out,” Australia captain Gavan Hicks said. “We were well on top but couldn’t get over the line.
“Boyd Duffield batted really well and showed the top order how to do it. If our top six actually fire against South Africa we can hopefully win and get another crack at England.”