How frustrating is the rain!?
It completely ruined what promised to be an epic contest between Australia and New Zealand. The Aussies had a very tough run chase in front of them but they still would have believed they could win with Steve Smith at the crease and Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head and Matthew Wade still to bat when the rain came to end the match.
It would have been one of those run chases that could have gone one of two ways. The run rate required was imposing and Australia would have had to play a lot of aggressive shots at the bowling. So they could have either been bowled out cheaply trying to keep up with the run rate required, or we could have seen one of those run chases where we marvel at the skill of the batsmen as they chase down a near-impossible target and the bowlers suffer.
Unfortunately, on this occasion we will never know as the rain won out in the end.
From a batting perspective, it can be difficult to keep a clear head in situations like this. There are so many external distractions going on such as the weather, the run rate required, the crowd and the pressure of the game that it can be difficult to focus on what is important and being fully immersed in the present moment and playing the next ball as well as possible.
Earlier in the day, there was some memorable performances by players from both teams.
Luke Ronchi grew up and played a lot of his cricket in Perth. He played first-class cricket for Western Australia for a decade and represented Australia in three T20s and four ODIs before heading home to his native New Zealand. On the 2008 Australian tour of the West Indies, Ronchi scored a 22-ball fifty and had a reputation as a real dasher.
It was a surprise to many, myself included, when he opened the batting with Martin Guptill against Australia, but he got off to a flyer and put the Aussies on the back foot with some scintillating stroke-play. His innings of 65 from just 43 balls set the perfect platform for another Kane Williamson masterclass.
The unflappable Kiwi skipper played a wonderful innings as he skilfully thought his way through the situation of the game with a mixture of touch, placement and power to set Australia an imposing target.
Josh Hazlewood was the best of the Australian bowlers picking up 6-52, the best figures by an Australian at the ICC Champions Trophy and again showing his class and the importance of accuracy in English conditions.
Hazlewood bowls an impeccable line and length always challenging a batsman’s defence. He is such an important cog in the Australian bowling line-up by maintaining control and complements the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins so well.
Steve Smith looked frustrated at times in the field but every time he threw the ball to Hazlewood, he knew the run rate would slow.
The Australian selectors chose a team that had a lot of flexibility and gave Steve Smith plenty of options with the ball.
Moises Henriques was given the opportunity to bat at No.4 ahead of Chris Lynn probably because Henriques is also a handy medium-pacer and could be effective in English conditions.
Quick Single: Smith explains Henriques nod over Lynn
The other position that I am sure the selectors would have discussed is whether to play Glenn Maxwell or Marcus Stoinis to bat at No.6.
Stoinis made a brilliant century against New Zealand in January, but the selectors decided to utilise the all-round brilliance and experience of Maxwell.
The Australians were certainly behind in the match against the Kiwis, but I hope the selectors show faith in the players selected in this match and keep the same team for the next game. It can be disruptive when the team chops and changes too much and players generally play at their best when they know their role and know they have the confidence and backing of the selectors.
The equation is simple for Australia to progress past the group stage – win the next two games against Bangladesh and England and win them as well as possible to ensure the net run rate is healthy.
Easier said than done!
This article appeared courtesy of icc-cricket.com
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Squads: Every Champions Trophy nation
2 June – New Zealand v Australia, No Result
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)