Australia beats England by 111 runs in its World Cup opener
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia opened its World Cup with an emphatic 111-run win over England on Saturday, with Mitch Marsh claiming five wickets after Aaron Finch smashed an aggressive century to set the hosts on course for victory.
Finch scored 135 from 128 balls and Glenn Maxwell (66) and captain George Bailey (55) posted half centuries in front of a crowd of more than 84,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to guide Australia’s recovery from an early collapse to reach 342-9.
England’s chase barely got started before Mitchell Starc (2-47) claimed the wicket of Moeen Ali (10), then Marsh (5-33) ran through the top order.
“I suppose what was great was that everyone contributed either with bat, ball or in the field, so from a team point of view it’s really good to see everyone playing well and peaking at the right time,” Finch said. “It’s a real confidence booster for the side.”
In a bizarre end to the match, James Taylor (98 not out) had an lbw decision overturned on review by the third umpire, only for James Anderson to then be given out — also on review — at the other end. The International Cricket Council later acknowledged that the umpires erred by referring the decision on Anderson for review. After Taylor’s initial decision was overturned, it should have been deemed a dead ball. Regardless, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.
“They certainly showed today they were the better team and they outplayed us in every department right from the start which is disappointing,” England captain Eoin Morgan said. “We showed glimpses of what we can do.”
After the loss of Ali, Gary Ballance (10) was caught by Finch at short mid-wicket in the 10th over off Marsh, who claimed Ian Bell for 36 and Joe Root for 5 with consecutive deliveries three overs later.
Morgan’s run of poor form continued when he was out without scoring, getting an edge off the toe of his bat to diving wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. That gave Marsh his fourth wicket and left England reeling at 73-5. Morgan has now made three ducks from his last four innings.
Jos Buttler (12) became Marsh’s fifth victim hen Steve Smith took an athletic, diving catch at short cover.
Chris Woakes batted well for 37 until he was caught by Smith off Mitchell Johnson (2-36), who joined with Starc to clear out the tailenders.
After Morgan won the toss and sent four-time champion Australia in to bat, Stuart Broad (2-66) made an early breakthrough with two wickets on consecutive balls when he bowled David Warner with a yorker and then had Shane Watson out edging. Smith (5) was out chopping on an in-swinging Woakes (1-65) delivery.
Finch anchored the Australian recovery, although the result could have been very different if Woakes had been able to hold a seemingly straight-forward catch off Finch at square-leg in the first over.
“To get 100 in front of my family and friends, and at my home ground, was pretty special and something that will stay with me for a long time,” Finch said.
Under-fire captain Bailey made a vital half century after joining Finch with Australia floundering on 70-3, sharing a 146-run fourth-wicket partnership.
Maxwell led the onslaught in the final 10 overs, with Haddin belting 31 off 14 balls and Marsh making 23 from 20.
“The guys you’ve got in the middle — Bailey, Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, Haddin — they can all play so many different roles,” Finch said. “And that’s such a pleasing thing in the side. In any circumstances you’ve got confidence in every guy that they can play in every scenario.”
Steven Finn (5-71) completed a five-wicket haul with a hat trick off the last three balls of Australia’s innings, having Marsh, Maxwell and Johnson (0) all caught out swinging in the pursuit of quick runs.
Despite the magnitude of the loss, Morgan remained positive about England’s chances for the rest of the tournament.
“We said the first two games in the tournament would be the toughest in our group and to come out of them with results would give us huge confidence,” he said. “And we’re still at that stage. We’re still focusing on getting to the quarterfinals and developing the further we get into the tournament.”