Billings' brilliant ton not enough as Australia win at Old Trafford

Sam Billings blows in vain with brilliant ton after Australia wipe out England’s top order to ease to win in first one day international at Old Trafford

  • England have fallen to defeat against Australia in the first ODI at Old Trafford 
  • Jonny Bairstow led a recovery from 57-4 before his resistance was broken on 84 
  • Sam Billings also fought back but Australia’s attack eventually proved too much 
  • Australia had finished strongly on 294-9 after being put into bat by England 

England got their World Cup winning band back together on Friday night but it was a player missing from last year’s triumph who hit the right notes to ensure they went down fighting in the first one-day international against Australia.

Sam Billings would have been the spare batsman in Eoin Morgan’s World Cup winning squad had he not suffered a serious injury that just about summed up his status as the nearly man of England’s white-ball cricket.

But here the 29-year-old made a quite brilliant 118, falling only to the final ball of the innings, in what could be his breakthrough performance as England fell 19 short of Australia’s commanding 294 for nine after looking dead and buried for much of the game.

England slipped to defeat against Australia in the first one-day international at Old Trafford

Sam Billings clinched a brilliant ton but his heroics were not enough to give England the win

Nine members of the side who thrashed Australia by eight wickets en route to that first ever England World Cup win started this season-concluding 50-over series.

Only Ben Stokes, still on compassionate leave, and Liam Plunkett, shown the door arguably a year or so too soon, were missing from that crushing semi-final triumph, with Eoin Morgan able to call on the bulk of his big guns for the first time in over a year.

But an empty Emirates Old Trafford was in sharp contrast to that pulsating packed house at Edgbaston as Australia produced an impressive performance of their own with a good old-fashioned display of Test match-style cricket.

First a one-day international that looked to be heading England’s way was transformed in Australia’s favour by a veteran finisher in Glenn Maxwell who had not played a 50-over match for his country since that humbling day in Birmingham. 

Eoin Morgan had fallen for 23 as England were ground down across the evening by the tourists

Josh Hazlewood took the crucial catch of Jonny Bairstow, who departed after a superb 84

Then, when England were asked to make what would have been an Old Trafford record chase, they came up against the formidable pace attack that did so much to retain the Ashes for Australia last year in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

It looked as though Test quality bowling would be far too strong for England when they lost their first four wickets for 57 and then when Jonny Bairstow fell for 84 after a hard-fought partnership of 113 with Billings.

But the Kent man, preferred here to an extra bowler in one of the Curran brothers, kept sweeping and reversing hitting expertly but just had too much to do to pull off what would have been an extraordinary victory for England.

At least there was a positive vision of an Ashes future in England’s bowling through the sheer pace of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer and the attacking leg-spin of Adil Rashid. 

Marnus Labuschagne took the catch to dismiss Jos Buttler and plunge England into danger

If England are to have any chance of improving on their 5-0 and 4-0 defeats in Australia on their next visit next year then they must have real fast bowling and wrist-spin in their armoury and here they had both as Australia initially struggled.

Even though 50-overs provides a very different challenge to Test cricket there had to be Ashes encouragement for England in seeing David Warner bowled by an absolute snorter of a 90 miles per hour delivery from Archer.

Archer has certainly looked more comfortable with a white-ball in his hand than a red one this summer and he was again impressive on his return to the one-day side, notably when he recovered from being hit for successive sixes by Maxwell.

The bowling star of that World Cup triumph got his man immediately after those two mighty blows when Maxwell dragged a slower ball onto his stumps and Archer added a third wicket in Pat Cummins to finish with three for 57. 

Bairstow led the recovery from 57-4 but was broken after Hazlewood dashed in from long-off

Adam Zampa was unsuccessful in appeals against Bairstow as Australia edged into control

If anything his partner in speed was even better, Wood claiming Aaron Finch with his first ball in 50-over cricket since that final at Lord’s last year, timed at 92 mph, and going on to take three slightly cheaper wickets of his own.

But the most intriguing performance again came from Rashid, surely the best white-ball spinner in the world but still a reluctant red-ball one who will take a lot of persuading before he commits to England’s Test future.

Here the man who proved so effective in England’s 2-1 Twenty20 success was at it again, claiming the key wicket of Marnus Labuschagne and bamboozling the Australia batsmen in what was an impressive England bowling display.

But from the depths of 123 for five Australia, missing Steve Smith after he was hit on the head during training on Thursday, were rescued by the mercurial figure of Maxwell and a batsman much improved against spin in particular in Mitch Marsh. 

Hazlewood (third right) celebrated with his team-mates after Joe Root was also dismissed

England’s Mark Wood raised his arms in celebration after Mitchell Starc fell earlier in the day

Together they added 126, an Australian 50-over record for the sixth wicket against England, and propelled their side to what always appeared a formidable total on the sort of tacky Old Trafford pitch Morgan insisted he wanted on the eve of the series.

It looked even more formidable when the outstanding Hazlewood produced a stunning reflex catch off his own bowling to dismiss Jason Roy before ending Joe Root’s painful stay at the crease on his own return to the England side.

And with Australia’s own leg-spinner in Adam Zampa accounting for Morgan and Jos Buttler, with the help of another terrific catch, this time from Labuschagne, England were all but finished.

Billings and Bairstow ensured it was much closer than seemed possible but it was Australia who claimed only their third victory against England in 14 50-over games, Hazlewood returning the remarkable figures of three for 26 and Zampa finishing with four wickets. 

They are one up with two games left of this bio-secure men’s international summer leaving England having to come from behind if they are to finish on a high note.

Australia finished strongly on 294-9 and left England chasing a difficult score in Manchester

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