4th over: England 13-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 8) This is proving quite the test for England. Bairstow unveils his late-cut to shoot the ball down to the short boundary, but other than that he is troubled by Hazlewood, edging short of slip and gesturing with irritation at the umpire for a wide that wasnât given.
3rd over: England 9-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 4) Starc:, from the back a window cleaner, white cloth tucked into the back of his trousers, from the front a 1970s popstar, all swarthy facial hair and a thick black headband. Morgan plays him tentatively, unusure, feet not quite in the right place, nearly tempted into a swish, uncomfortable against the short stuff.
âTanya,â writes John Starbuck. âIâve got a feeling that neither side will use the full 50 overs in this game. Itâll be great if they do go the distance but there seems to be a change in the air now (end of term effect?).â
I think you could be right. Very hard to stay in the zone for the last few metres of a long race.
2nd over: England 8-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 4) Bairstow, who could only watch as Starc caused carnage at the other end, safely negotiates Hazlewoodâs first four balls, then drives him, with panache, for four. Perhaps this is the way its going to be – boundaries, or wickets.
1st over: England 4-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 0) The hat-trick ball passes harmlessly down the legisde and Eoin Morgan, whose capacity to clear his mind is spooky, knocks the next delivery for four through cover. Interesting start by England. Roy was particularly furious, slamming his bat into the stairs and letting rip some of his juiciest catch-phrases.
Second ball! The ball swings into Rootâs back pad and thatâs that! He has a chat with Bairstow who takes a ridiculously long time to tell him that heâs got no chance on review. Hat-trick ball!
First ball! Royâs eyes light up at a ball outside off stump, he has a dart and the ball flies straight into the hands of Maxwell at backward point.
The Aussies walk out in bright banana yellow to a very dramatic version of Jerusalem, and Mitchell Starc has the new ball..
Something to throw into the mix: because of the position of the pitch, there is an extremely short boundary on the left hand side of the ground, with the wind blowing towards that rope.
Do write in with your summer thoughts/melancholy on this final day of menâs cricket this season.
England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wkt), Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (capt), Marcus Stoinis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wkt), Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood.
Thanks to Nick Moreton for pointing out this smashing article by the Guardianâs young sports writer of the year, age 7-9, Rebecca Close. A sensational idea, wonderfully done. Congratulations!
@tjaldred Hi Tanya, special shout out to 9(!)-year-old Rebecca Close for this brilliant piece of writing. The nerves came right back just reading it https://t.co/CW7Hhan81G
Australia are unchanged – so no Steve Smith for England to worry about. Heâs still âa little big groggy.â Finch would have batted as well. It is breezy out there, his shirt rustling across his chest. Australia âmis-executedâ on Sunday, heâs hoping for better today.
Sam Curran, most unluckily, misses out for Mark Wood. âSamâs an extremely young, versatile cricketer but weâve gone for extra pace.â
The bio bubble has its challenges and you canât but think there will be an air of last day at school to todayâs proceedings.
âItâs almost one day at a time…â said Justin Langer when asked yesterday. âitâs just when you start looking ahead to when we get home and then quarantine and how the summer looks and if you keep looking too far ahead, then it gets challenging.â
Jofra Archer, who has spent more days in the bio bubble than any other player, was more outspoken. âIt has been mentally challenging. Weâve been here for 16 weeks. It is going to be more rare going home or being normal again. Here (OT) has become the new normal. Weâll have to adjust agains when we get some time off.â
They havenât got long to rest – Australia and Englandâs IPL players fly to Dubai on Thursday to join their franchises.
Good early afternoon from Old Trafford, where the sun is high, the cabbage whites are having a last autumn flutter and England play their final match of this long, strange, covid summer.
And what a few months theyâve had – albeit tucked inside the bio-secure bubble – series wins against West Indies in the Tests (2-1), Ireland in the one-dayers (2-1), Pakistan in a Test series (1-0), Australia in the T-20s (2-1), a drawn T-20 series against Pakistan (1-1), and yet, after all that, this final game perfectly poised – with both Australia and England having won one game each.
Like all of Englandâs opponents this summer, Australia have had to arrive, bubble, and hit the ground running. After an easy win the the first ODI, it seemed they had made up for lost time, but the batting collapse on Sunday night will have pursued Justin Langer into the night. Australia hope to bring Steve Smith back into the team after his concussion scare, but Langer said Smith was ârustyâ in the nets and a late call will be made.
England face a difficult choice of whether to bring back Mark Wood and Moeen Ali to replace to the Curran brothers, who couldnât have done much more to retain their places. The pitch at Old Trafford is a new one, so Moeen could well miss out.
Other things to watch out for: Archerâs continued mastery over Warner, Sam Curranâs golden arm, Adam Zampaâs irresistibility, the Manchester DJâs last tunes of summer.
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