After a heartening victory in their last warm up game against the Prime Minister's XI, including a record-breaking innings from Ian Bell, England's one-day side were brought back to reality with a thud today with a heavy defeat to old foes Australia in their first tri-series tie Down Under.
Batting first, England were never in a position to post a truly challenging target for the Green and Golds as they suffered a disastrous start in Sydney. Three balls in they were already two wickets down with no runs on the board, although they did recover somewhat thanks to a sparkling innings from one-day specialist Eoin Morgan. The Irishman's 121 was more than half of their entire total of 234 all out, but served only to slightly spare the visitors' blushes from what threatened to be absolute embarrassment at one stage early on during their time at the crease.
It was a captain's knock from the man who has been given the onerous task of turning the national team's ODI fortunes around, following his replacement of Alastair Cook in the role for the limited-overs format.
Australia and David Warner in particular were keen to make a statement in their chasing down of the paltry total, as they waltzed past England's score with three wickets in reserve and more than ten overs left to bowl. In doing so they also earned a bonus point in the series to firmly establish themselves as favourites for the overall competition. Warner continues to draw on and dedicate his innings to his late friend, Phillip Hughes, who died after playing at the ground back in November, and markedly pointed to the heavens after reaching his latest century here. It ensured that the game was always going to be Australia's for the asking as he reached 127 to effectively cancel out Morgan's earlier fine knock.
Mitchell Starc's 4-42 earned him the man of the match award over Warner, with fellow bowler James Faulkner backing him up solidly during England's innings with a fine return of 3-47..
It was another bitter blow to the touring party's terrible one-day record in recent years, as it confirmed their 18th defeat in the last 25 matches they have played against the Test-playing nations of the world. It also does not bode well for the upcoming World Cup where they will face the same opposition again, although the new captain was in philosophical mood afterwards. Morgan's belief was that: "We have to learn from it and move on."
They do indeed move on to face India in their second match in the series at the Gabba on Tuesday. Morgan will hope for a much improved performance then and maybe a change of personnel in some positions. He omitted spinner James Tredwell from the side that faced Australia, deciding that the boundaries at Sydney were too short to risk his inclusion, and also rested key strike bowler James Anderson with an eye already focussed on ensuring his fitness for the World Cup matches to come. #Cricket.