Moises Henriques disagreed with George Bailey when informed of his remarkable slide down the Test pecking order, but the allrounder appreciated the chief selector’s honesty.
Australia headed to their spiritual home of Trent Bridge, the ground where they were once bowled out for 60 in a must-win Ashes Test match and where they also conceded 6/481 in a would-really-have-been-rather-quite-nice-to-win bilateral series ODI.
Here are the ratings for the World Cup match between Australia and Bangladesh.
Dropping David Warner
Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bat first. He knew Australia had to amass a huge total if they were to fend off a Bangladesh side that in their previous match had run down a target of 322 with 51 balls to spare.
It was an ominous performance from Bangladesh, one that certainly explains why Cricket Australia are always too scared to have them tour here. But there would be no last-minute cancellation on the cards to save Australia this time around. Finch’s men would have to bat, and bat well.
David Warner, however, was not batting well. He spent most of the first ten overs struggling to pierce the field and get going. Sensing that Warner, the man who’d faced the most dot balls in the tournament, was the key to keeping the target under control, Bangladesh sensibly spilled a chance at point.
Of course, Michael Clarke in commentary instead blamed the dropped chance on the sporadic cloud cover at the ground and the associated cumulonimbus confusion.
“Is it sunglasses on? Is it sunglasses off?” said Clarke, who, admittedly, may also have somehow mistaken the cricket for a CSI Miami pre-credits sequence.
But the dropping of Warner didn’t look so clever when the Australian opener finally found his rhythm on the way to 166 from 147 balls, a knock that put him back on top of the run-scorers list for the tournament.
His partner for much of the innings was Usman Khawaja, with whom he put on a 192 run partnership, as the pair settled in and squabbled over who got to take on the steadying role in the innings.
Some people will tell you it’s crazy to build a ship entirely out of sheet anchors. Justin Langer and the Australian selectors are here to tell you those people are nautical cowards.
Running out Glenn Maxwell
Warner and Khawaja did eventually start to accelerate, but not soon enough for most fans who felt that, at one wicket down, perhaps more risks could be taken in an attempt to make a truly massive total.
As if to prove the point, when Warner was dismissed, Glenn Maxwell came in and immediately embodied both the risk-taking and acceleration aspects of that fan-pleasing plan. Maxwell blasted his way to a preposterous 32 off nine balls, before being maddeningly run out when Khawaja refused a call for a single with both batsmen already halfway down the pitch.
On the one hand, it was a terrible call from Maxwell. He’d Nat-megged the ball straight to the man at short fine leg and the run was incredibly dangerous.
On the other hand, there were fewer than four overs remaining, with eight wickets in hand, so the occasional application of pressure to fielders was perhaps called for.
On a third hand, Usman was running to the danger end and it was his call.
Hand number four suggests, however, that basic match awareness suggests that it’s perhaps reasonable to sacrifice one’s self for your partner who is scoring at 20 runs per over.
The fifth hand points out that, despite the time it had taken Khawaja to reach top gear, now that he’d reached it, he was producing some absolutely sublime strokes of his own.
Hand six retorts that sublime is one thing, but Maxwell, in a perfectly standard approach to a free hit, had earlier managed some kind of ridiculous, off-balance, one-legged, tilted, helicopter shot for six.
Which brings us to the seventh and final hand that fully justifies Khawaja’s call. Maxwell’s batting was already out of control. 32 off nine balls? For goodness sake. No, he had to be run out. Who knows what further destruction he might have done to our plane of reality if he’d been allowed to remain out there.
More importantly, Khawaja fell from the next ball he faced, succumbing just as much to Maxwell’s guilt trip as he did to the delivery from the startlingly effective part-time bowler Soumya Sarkar.
A perfect cherry on top of the runout.
Steve Smith’s reviews
Steve Smith had, by now, entered the fray. And exited it almost immediately, reviewing a leg before wicket decision that struck him on the full in front of the stumps.
Fantastic to see that, even though Smith no longer has the captaincy, he still managed to retain the right to mindlessly review the decision any time an umpire dares to take his wicket from him.
Despite all the late-order carnage, Australia finished on 5/381, a score that still felt somehow at least thirty runs short of what they might have made.
What an absolutely bonkers side they’ve become. Not only, as I’ve discussed in previous ratings, are they winning matches in a totally incorrect way for the modern era. Now they’re also making huge totals in the wrong manner.
For Bangladesh to have any chance of winning this match, they needed their best batsman Shakib Al Hasan to be in the middle as long as possible.
Which was why it was such poor fielding from Finch to stop a ball in the fourth over, cause panic stop-start running from the batsmen, steady, then throw the stumps down to bring Shakib to the crease.
Bangladesh didn’t punish them for the error, however, with Shakib making 41 and Mushfiquir Rahim scoring an unbeaten century in a chase that fell 48 runs short.
The win put the Australian side back on top of the World Cup table.
Honestly, they’re a mental team.