Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse for England – Mitch is back!
First the bad news – and there’s quite a bit of it. Mitchell Johnson, scourge of the England batsmen, Man of the Series in the Aussie’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash, is back. He’s shaved off his handlebar moustache, but it’s still the same old Mitch who took 37 wickets at less than 14 runs apiece.
Meanwhile, In the England camp, captain Alastair Cook and Joe Root are still struggling for runs and Steven Finn, the only one selected for the tour not to have played a game, has gone home, apparently with the ‘yips’.
Oh yes, and we’re back in Brisbane, where England’s nightmare began just eight weeks ago (is that all? – this torture seems to have gone on for much longer).
Here we go again. Coral make Australia 4/11 to win the second ODI (England 2/1) after they comfortably chased down 269 at the MCG. And the series is already all but decided with the hosts now 1/8 and England 5/1.
Johnson, rested in Melbourne, is 9/1 to win yet another Man of the Match award. Hell hath no fury like a fast bowler scorned and this now proven world class quickie is sure making the Barmy Army pay for all the insults thrown at him in recent years.
But England’s chief tormentor is playing second fiddle in Coral’s Man of the Match market to Aaron Finch (7/1). The huge-hitting opener didn’t figure in the Ashes series, but we knew all about him after his incredible, record-breaking 156 in 63 balls (including 14 sixes) in a Twenty20 match against England at the Rose Bowl last summer.
it was rather inevitable that he would take England’s bowlers apart again on his return to the team, although 121 at just less than a run a ball was quite pedestrian by his standards.
So what about the good news? is there a light at the end of the tunnel, apart, that is, from the headlights of another onrushing train? Well, there are some good signs of a revival, if not in this series then later this year and beyond with the likes of Gary Ballance and Chris Jordan displaying a good deal of promise to sit alongside the big impression made by all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Jordan, whose figures of 1-50 on his debut hardly did him justice, is 100/30 to be England’s leading wicket taker, while Ballance is 5/1 to make most runs.
But the Aussies are so much on top in every department at the moment that it is difficult to envisage anything other than another home win.