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Hardest Day’s Cricket I Have Ever Had in My Life: Tim Paine

ICC | Updated: June 20, 2018, 8:12 AM IST
Hardest Day’s Cricket I Have Ever Had in My Life: Tim Paine

Tim Paine walks off the field after the England innings. (ICC)

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It was the ‘hardest day’s cricket I have ever had in my life,’ said Tim Paine, the Australia captain, after his team conceded a one-day international record 481/6 to England and were then bowled out for 239 to go down by a whopping 242 runs.

It was the third ODI of the five-match series, which England have now snatched 3-0, and while Paine was hurting, Eoin Morgan, his England counterpart, was ‘extremely proud’ after the Trent Bridge blitz.

England now have the two top ODI team totals against their name – their 444/3 against Pakistan, also at Trent Bridge, is at No.2 – and they have both come in the last two years.

It’s exactly the sort of batting show that makes England the No.1 ODI team in the world and favourites to win the ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time when it’s held in their country comes 2019.

“Having been in the position that we found ourselves in today, with about six overs to go, we certainly never imagined after the game against Pakistan that we’d come close, past, and maybe stare down the barrel at scoring 500. So it’s a very proud day for us as a group, including the staff,” said Morgan, who contributed a 30-ball 67 to the England cause.

For England, the batting stars were Jason Roy (82), Jonny Bairstow (139) and Alex Hales (147), apart from Morgan, but the bowlers did exceedingly well to thwart any hopes Australia might have had. Moeen Ali (3/28) and Adil Rashid (4/47) were again England’s bowling stars.

“What’s most pleasing is the level of intensity that we operated at and kept continuing to operate at throughout the whole game. Every batter that came in, every bowler that came on, even though it was a really flat wicket, showed unbelievable attitude, which is all you can ask,” said Morgan.

Speaking specifically about England’s top-three batsmen, the captain added, “I suppose the pride which everybody takes in appearing in the XI, or even being in the squad, is huge. It is difficult to keep everybody satisfied. But we’ve said this for the last three years, that we want a squad of players so by the time the World Cup comes around, the in-form guys are the most likely to play.

“All three of those are putting themselves right at the top of the list at the moment.”

England’s turnaround in ODI cricket started after the last ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015, when they were eliminated in the group stage itself. It led to a rethink in the way they approach the format, and the results have been mind-blowing.

“I think the World Cup contributed to it massively, realising that 300 just wasn’t an acceptable score, a winning score, and being good enough to going and getting 350,” reflected Morgan.

“It took us quite a while to get there, but certainly in that New Zealand series (in 2015), we identified that we needed to be good enough as a team to post a match-winning score with the bat, as opposed to previous teams where if someone got over 300 we simply couldn’t chase it down. Because it was something we didn’t practice, something we didn’t preach about.

“But this group of players is … a bit like today, the sky’s the limit with these guys. Having an open mind about what we can achieve is important.”

Across the divide, Paine, leading a weakened Australia, who are without Steve Smith and David Warner, the frontmen of the batting line-up, and pace stalwarts Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, it was all slightly gloomy.

“Everything we tried didn’t work, everything they tried came off,” he said after the game. “Normally that happens for an hour or two then you get a couple of wickets. But for it to happen as long as it did, you have to take your hat off. They struck the ball as well as I have ever seen.

“That was three or four guys having an absolute day out all at the same time.”

In the absence of the pace trio, the bowling duties have been helmed by Australia’s next rung of pacers – Billy Stanlake, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye and Ashton Agar were the main men at Trent Bridge.

“We have a really inexperienced attack and we would be foolish not to go through it and learn from it,” pointed out Paine. “But the best place for these guys to learn is on the job. As bad as it seems and it feels right now, this can be a really big positive for us going forward, that we have gone through a day like this and the guys realise the sun comes up tomorrow and we get another crack at England in two days' time.

“When we are out there it’s all about staying as calm and as clear as possible. And that can be really difficult for a bowler when you are getting smacked around the ground and the crowd is going berserk. It can be hard to stay on track and even the simplest plans can be forgotten.”

The fourth ODI of the series will be played in Chester-le-Street on Thursday.
First Published: June 20, 2018, 8:12 AM IST
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