England need to really get stuck into Australia to turn T20 series around
New series, new format, same old story. England, whitewashed 5-0 in the Ashes and hammered 4-1 in the ODIs, now also find themselves close to losing the three-game Twenty20 series following their defeat in the Hobart opener.
The 13-run winning margin of victory flattered the tourists and they will need to get moving faster with both bat and ball when the action resumes in Melbourne tomorrow morning to prevent the Aussies completing an all-format clean sweep.
Coral go 11/10 England bounce back at the MCG (Australia 8/11) and they are certainly capable of better than they managed in Tasmania, where bad starts in both innings allowed the Baggy Greens to win quite comfortably.
The last thing you want when Aaron Finch and Cameron White are at the crease are fluffs in the field and England were always playing catch-up after the two openers knocked up quick-fire 50s.
Captain Stuart Broad, by far the best of the England bowlers, blamed a poor early response with the bat partly on scoreboard pressure, but added that 213 was by no means an impossible target to chase down on such a small ground; quite simply, his team should have made a better fist of it.
That it was Ravi Bopara who showed what could be done by compiling a half century in just 23 balls (faster even than Finch and an England T20 record) was more frustrating than satisfying.
Bopara went into the game with by far the worst strike-rate of the England batsmen (less than 105 compared to 130 and much higher by the rest) and yet took the Aussie bowling attack apart when it was all too late.
The Essex all-rounder is 6/1 to top score for England again, but Broad will be hoping that others higher up the batting order will have stepped up to the mark, like openers Alex Hales (3/1), and Michael Lumb (100/30), along with Joe Root (6/1).
The Aussie new boys Chris Lynn and James Muirhead both impressed, Lynn in particular showing match-winning potential with some brutal strikes. His 33 from 19 balls was an ominous sign of things to come and Coral’s 5/1 that he top scores in Melbourne makes some appeal.
Australia are 19/20 to score more sixes than England in the second game, with England 6/5 and the tie 6/1.
It finished all square in the maximum stakes at Hobart, the final score 11 apiece after Bopara cleared the ropes seven times in the closing overs. There are several big hitters on both sides, but the hosts probably have the edge at the larger MCG, especially if Finch and White get going again.