Australia has taken out its ODI series against England in straight-sets following a big 72-run win at the SCG on Saturday night.
England threatened to snatch the match from the Aussies, but Adam Zampa led a brilliant four-wicket response that saw the visitors crumble in a heap.
These are the Talking Points to come out of the second ODI in Sydney.
Watch Australia v England. Every ODI live and ad-break free in play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
REPORT: Poms ‘implode’ in ODI demolition as Zampa, Starc nail four-wicket stunners
‘THEY COULD BE EXPOSED’: Aussie cricket great calls out ‘interesting’ sight in dugout
STARC’S ‘FINEST OVER’ EXPOSES BAFFLING WC CALL
Kerry O’Keeffe said it was “almost unplayable”, and “could well be his finest first over in ODI cricket”.
Mitchell Starc and the new ball — who would have thought?
The left-armer bowled one of the all-time opening overs at the SCG, taking 2-2 with Jason Roy caught behind, and Dawid Malan — who made a century on Thursday — clean bowled.
Starc first set Roy up with a full delivery then bowled short at his hips to catch the opener off guard and jammed up.
The quick then beat the outside edge of Malan with consecutive outswingers before a third rattled his off-stump.
Starc had the ball hooping at 2.2 degrees in his first two overs; the most movement through the air he’s ever found inside the first two overs of an ODI.
He became the only bowler to have taken two wickets inside the first over three times in ODI cricket. It was the 16th time he’s taken a wicket inside his first over of an ODI innings, which is 10 more than any player from a Test-playing nation, according to OptaJason.
Naturally, it wasn’t long before questions about Australia’s use of Starc at the T20 World Cup came up.
During the tournament, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins had the lion’s share of new ball overs, while against Afghanistan, Starc wasn’t picked at all despite the need for a big victory to boost net run rate.
Starc blitzing England from the outset at the SCG brought that controversial decision back into sharp focus.
“Further proof that Mitchell Starc and the new ball are a couple that should never be split up,” tweeted cricket writer Bharat Sundaresan.
The Telegraph’s Tim Wigmore wrote: “His non-selection against Afghanistan when Australia needed to win big in the T20 World Cup seems even odder.”
Starc’s wife and fellow Australia star Alyssa Healy was in commentary at the time of Starc’s opening over and was asked about his omission from the Afghanistan game.
“Are you wanting me to answer that question?” she joked, before saying: “I think naturally anyone sitting on the sideline would’ve been disappointed.
“Knowing that the Aussies had to win, and win it well, you want to stick your hand up and do that job for Australia.
“He’s got a good opportunity to come out now with the new ball and do his thing.”
Starc finished the match with 4-47 after also dismissing Chris Woakes and David Willey.
Smith falls AGONISINGLY short of century | 02:10
SMITH RESURGENCE CONTINUES
Steve Smith proved at the SCG that Thursday was no one-off after he made his second-consecutive big score for the series.
Smith came within one shot of his 13th ODI century, reaching 94 off 114 deliveries to topscore for the Australians.
He went for glory by trying to bring his century up with a six, but he failed to clear the ropes off Adil Rashid.
Nonetheless, on a tricky surface, Smith’s 94 was worth more than it might have seemed on paper.
Smith’s uncanny ability to pick the gaps and work the ball around the field was vital in the tough conditions. Of his 94 runs, only 26 were scored in boundaries.
The innings came after Smith’s bold declaration in the first ODI at the Adelaide Oval.
The Australian No.3 declared “I’m back, baby” as he made an unbeaten 80 to signal his intent for the remainder of the summer.
Smith later said that it was the best he felt at the crease in six years as he fully came to terms with technical changes that have him standing stiller at the crease.
Now his resurgence has taken another positive step forward – not least for the extra time he’s earnt at the crease with Test cricket just around the corner.
Smith’s 94 also follows on from a positive trend in his 50-over cricket dating back two years.
Since November 2020, Smith is averaging 73.40 in ODI cricket with three centuries and four fifties from 13 innings.
ZAMPA ‘SKILLFULL, INTELLIGENT’
For a moment, it looked like the game was somehow going to slip through Australia’s fingers despite England’s 3-34 start.
James Vince and Sam Billings were frustrating the Australians with a 122-run partnership, which saw CricViz’s win prediction model put England ahead after 27 overs.
Perhaps the model didn’t give enough weight to the genius of Adam Zampa.
Zampa has long been a major wicket-taking threat, while the finetuning of his wrong’un over the years has improved his mystery.
But not enough credit has been given in the past about his ability to out-think his opponents, as all the best spinners do.
It was a talent that made Shane Warne the greatest leg-spinner of all time as much as his flipper, or big-turning stock ball, did.
And while we may never see a bowler come close to Warne in that respect, Zampa is certainly among the best in the current white ball era.
According to CricViz, Saturday night was the fastest Zampa has ever bowled in an ODI – and it was no coincidence.
Zampa recognised the danger at night was in the ball that would skid on and leave the batter playing late.
That was how the leg-spinner had Moeen Ali bowled after he tried to put the pressure on the Australians with 10 runs off just four balls.
Zampa’s penchant for taking the big wickets was on display again as he beat Billings in flight to suddenly leave England teetering again.
Sam Curran then didn’t pick the wrong’un from Zampa and was out for a four-all duck to leave England with virtually no chance of fighting back.
Former Australia spinner O’Keeffe was impressed in commentary, saying: “He’s read the pitch well at night.
“It’s the skid-on at the SCG. He might’ve bowled slower in the day time.
“Skilful, intelligent stuff from Zampa.”
Zampa took the last wicket of the night, trapping Liam Dawson to finish with 4-45.
Two wickets in two balls for Rashid! | 00:45
MARSH’S WORLD CUP REMINDER
Mitch Marsh finds himself in a battle for one of the most hotly-contested spots in Australia’s ODI XI heading into next year’s World Cup.
More performances like this with the bat will certainly help his chances of winning that battle.
With Ashton Agar widely expected to partner Adam Zampa in India, and Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne set to bat at No.3 and No.4, there could be only two all-rounder spots available at the World Cup.
One of those likely belongs to Glenn Maxwell, who is on the sidelines with a broken leg.
It potentially leaves Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green in competition for one spot.
Marsh missed out in the first ODI against England but returned to Australia’s XI for the second match at the SCG.
And while his 50 runs off 59 balls might seem modest, they didn’t tell the full story given the ball wasn’t coming onto the bat on a slow wicket, and England’s bowlers offered little slack.
Stoinis, meanwhile, only made 13 runs off 14 balls and was undone by a slower ball, whereas Marsh added some important runs in the back-end of the Australian innings.
Stoinis is still called on to bowl more regularly, but Marsh did offer two overs without much damage done.
Selectors will continue to look at their options during lead-up games, but Marsh will be pleased with the message he sent at the SCG.
Mic’d Up with Aussie keeper Alex Carey | 01:51