James Vince ruefully reflected on his dismissal as the turning point in England’s 72-run defeat against Australia, who moved into an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI series.
Chasing 281, England lost Jason Roy and Dawid Malan in the first over to a fired up Mitchell Starc while they fell to 34 for three before Vince and Sam Billings steadied the ship with a 122-run stand.
However, on a wearing surface which made life difficult for batters, Vince was given lbw after being struck on the back leg by Australia’s captain for the day Josh Hazlewood to depart for 60 off 72 balls.
Billings was bowled by Adam Zampa for 71 and England were unable to rebuild as they were all out for 208 in 38.5 overs, meaning Tuesday’s match at Melbourne will be a dead rubber.
“Losing those wickets early, we had to rebuild a bit, we got it going and then once I got out there was another flurry which killed the game off,” Vince said.
“I would have liked a bigger contribution to get us towards the target, same with Bilbo. If we could have kept that partnership going for longer, we would have given ourselves more of a chance of winning.
“The wicket was reasonably tricky. In patches it seemed to be quite hard and it wasn’t every ball but there was a bit of variable bounce and the ball sticking in the pitch.
“Luckily when I was going OK, Bilbo was perhaps struggling a bit more and then he started going better when I struggled a bit more. If we could have extended that partnership by another 50 runs or so and left the lads at the bottom a bit less to do, we might have got over the line but it wasn’t to be.”
England’s squad contains several players who were key to their T20 World Cup triumph while some of the group, such as Vince and Billings, have only been in Australia for the last week or so.
The new arrivals did not have a warm-up to adjust to conditions and Vince, who has registered fifty-plus scores in three of his last four ODIs, admitted the series has had an unusual feel to it.
“We’ve come in fairly fresh,” he said. “The guys that have been here a while are at the other end of the spectrum where they’re looking forward to getting home. We’ve not had a huge amount of preparation.
“Somewhere in the middle of where the guys have been here for a while and where we are would be ideal. But there’s been a lot of effort to try and do well in this series.
“Unfortunately we go to Melbourne having lost it. Fair play to the guys that have been here from the World Cup, they’ve focused on the game when it’s come round to it as well as they can.”
The timing and relevance of this series has been questioned and both sides were without their captains as Moeen Ali replaced Jos Buttler and Hazlewood led Australia in the absence of Pat Cummins.
“It was pretty exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking,” Hazlewood said. “It’s nice you got into a stride on the field it was good fun. I certainly enjoyed it.”
Leg-spinner Zampa finished with four for 45 but it was Starc who earned rave reviews, dismissing the out-of-form Roy before a sensational outswinger knocked back Malan’s off-stump.
“You know exactly what he’s going to do but reacting to it is something different,” Vince said. “You need a bit of luck against a ball like that, hopefully you get a thick outside edge or it just misses the stumps or something.”
Starc went on to finish with four for 47, castling Chris Woakes and also bowling David Willey via an inside edge, and came in for praise from Hazlewood.
“It was probably unexpected,” Hazlewood said. “There was no swing from really anyone else throughout the whole game. There were some beauties there.”