ODI Australia v England: top match, low point

Great game, shame about the crowd. It was another triumph for the administrators who scheduled eight days of international cricket in Sydney in a month and nine limited-overs internationals between Australia and England across the country in the same period.

Today’s game was a one-day classic: lots of runs, ebb and flow and a record run chase. Indeed it was Australia’s highest successful run-chase in 756 one-day internationals. It was also their highest score in any form of the game since the first innings of the Brisbane Test.

I don’t know exactly what the attendance at the SCG was but there were stacks of empty seats. Not only is it overkill but also Australia’s sporting public is already turning its attention to the pre-season hoop-la of Aussie rules football.

I know that I’m howling at the moon here but I find myself getting nostalgic for the days when one-dayers were tasters for a Test series. And I’m sure that various committees – ICC, MCC and anyone else you can think of – had deemed that seven-match series were a thing of the past.

It was miraculous that this series produced such a thrilling game as today’s given the injuries afflicting both sides. England are at the last-man-standing stage and Australia are not far off. This is not top-level sport.

As for England’s chances in the World Cup, Lawrence Booth is absolutely right to say, as he did here earlier, that their full-strength side ought to be a much stronger proposition than they have been in Australia.

But I do fear for them because of the workload. Andrew Strauss has been in Australia since the end of October and will have three days at home before going off to the seven-week World Cup in Asia. And to think that England’s footballers were considered tired when they went to the World Cup in South Africa last year.

John Stern is the editor of The Wisden Cricketer

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