World Cup warm-up matches
Smith hits century as Aussies beat England
Steve Smith continued brilliant form as bowlers got the job done in warm-up match
Louis Cameron The Rose Bowl, Southampton
26 May 2019, 09:00 AM AEST
Steve Smith announced his pending return to international cricket with a flawless century, as Australia landed a blow on World Cup favourites England with a tight 12-run victory in a practice match in Southampton on Saturday.
A week out from his side's Cup opener against Afghanistan, Smith struck a 102-ball 116 as Australia put in a solid bowling performance without gun quicks Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to hand a hobbled England outfit a rare defeat on their home turf.
The match did not have official one-day international status, but Smith's chanceless knock will have done his confidence no harm. It was the fourth time in as many innings that he's passed 50, following on from scores of 89*, 91* and 76 in Australia’s last three warm-up games.
As expected, both he and David Warner (43 off 55 balls) copped boos from the 11,540 spectators in attendance, though the Ageas Bowl crowd also expressed a strong measure of appreciation for Smith's hundred.
A dropped catch at slip off Jason Roy in the first over of England's innings was just about Smith's only misstep for the day.
Stand-in England captain Jos Buttler (52 off 31) threatened to rip the game away with a remarkable cameo. The explosive right-hander took 24 off one Nathan Coulter-Nile (1-61 off six overs) over before the Western Australian held his nerve to have him caught at mid-wicket one delivery after he'd brought up a 30-ball fifty.
James Vince (64 off 76), Chris Woakes (40 off 44) and Liam Plunkett (19 off 20) put up a valiant fight. The latter two, the eighth-wicket pair, reduced the equation to 24 off the final three overs, but Marcus Stoinis (1-31 off six) ran Woakes out off his own bowling to effectively seal the game.
England were bowled out for 285 with three balls to spare.
Spinners Nathan Lyon (1-37 off 10 overs) and Adam Zampa (1-54 off 10) both bowled tightly, Jason Behrendorff (2-43 off eight) impressed with the new ball while Kane Richardson (2-51 off 9) was superb at the death.
It was an assured batting performance from Australia, though question marks remain over the exact composition of their top order going into the tournament proper.
Warner returned to the opening spot after batting at three in a practice game against West Indies on Wednesday, while Shaun Marsh (30 off 44) moved up to first drop and Usman Khawaja (31 off 38) was shunted down to No.5.
Alex Carey played a gem of an innings from No.7 during the closing overs, scoring 30 off only 14 deliveries, before Tom Curran took an outstanding diving catch to remove him.
Having lost captain Eoin Morgan on the eve of the match, England's injury worries mounted further as speedster Mark Wood left the field during his opening spell and was sent for scans on his foot, before Liam Dawson also exited late in Australia's innings after hurting his finger collecting a return throw. Leg-spinner Adil Rashid was also on the sidelines with a shoulder niggle.
The hosts were so short of reserves that they had to call on 42-year-old assistant coach Paul Collingwood, admittedly one of England's greatest ever fielders who only retired from first-class cricket last year, to come onto the ground at stages during Australia's innings.
While Smith was again the standout, Warner struck his highest score since returning to the Australian side, smacking five boundaries and charging between the wickets in a 63-run second-wicket stand with Marsh.
Skipper Aaron Finch made 14 before being caught at mid-on off Wood.
Marsh again looked in terrific touch after posting an unbeaten half-century against West Indies earlier in the week and was dreadfully unfortunate to glove a rank leg-side pie to be caught behind off Plunkett.
Khawaja and Smith put on 79 at nearly a run-a-ball before the former was stumped trying to heave Dawson’s orthodox spin, while Stoinis (13 off 22) was run out coming back for a second in an awful mix-up with Smith.
Plunkett (4-69 of nine overs) was expensive but finished as England's only multiple wicket taker.
England's top order all made starts but the loss of Bairstow (12 off 17), Roy (32 off 36) and Ben Stokes (20 off 32) inside the first 22 overs meant the required run-rate ballooned up towards seven an over.
From 3-100, Buttler and Vince launched an entertaining counter-attack, adding 71 in 47 balls, but even despite their seemingly endless batting stocks, England couldn't be rescued after that pair's exit.
Australia have one more practice game against Sri Lanka on Monday again in Southampton before their World Cup opener against Afghanistan in Bristol.
Australia XII: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Kane Richardson, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa
England XI: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, James Vince, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (c)(wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Liam Dawson, Tom Curran, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 22: (warm-up) Australia beat West Indies by seven wickets
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE