Cow Corner: Take Aussie win with a Finch of salt
Twenty20 matches are decided by the smallest of margins, and it often takes a blistering knock late in the final overs of an innings to clinch victory. Here Australia were indebted to a stunning 53 from Aaron Finch.
The burly 24-year-old Victorian came in at number six to plunder his half-ton runs off just 33 balls in a destructive, belligerent knock which proved to be the decisive contribution in a match which ended on the final ball.
Not a single player from either side, with the exception of Finch, mustered more than 30 runs in a low-scoring encounter on a spongy pudding pitch with monstrous boundaries which rendered rampant run-making almost impossible.
After Shane 'which way to the beach?' Watson had bludgeoned a post-gym sesh 17 and David Warner had mullered a brisk devil-may-care 30, T-Paine fell for a 12-ball 21 and Australia were suddenly faltering.
Cameron White lasted all of three balls before a fellow Victorian, umpire Paul Reiffel, triggered him out for a sensationally high lbw, and his wry smile was replaced by a look of thunder from Mr Cricket's atrociously out-of-form brother David shortly afterwards.
But then entered Finch, who will surely have a few stickers on his chunky railway-sleeper of a bat after a knock which saw him locate the VB tent over midwicket on six occasions and almost reduce Ajmal Shahzad to tears.
Finch is built like a lumberjack and adopts the blacksmith's approach to batting: wielding a near-illegal sized bat with more grips than Clive Lloyd and clearing his front leg to enable him to locate cow corner as regularly as a one-shot village tonker.
The Colac South-West Vics country boy took Australia's annual Big Bash competition by storm and repaired a reputation severely damaged in Cricket Australia circles following his 2007 ban from the academy for not keeping his room tidy and remaining festively plump for the entire year.
Finch's penchant for a celebratory post-match beer, even in the case of a heavy defeat, during the U19 World Cup back in 2006 saw his attitude and Freddie Flintoff-esque antics brought into question, but he is fast repairing any lingering damage.
His bottom-hand scything of the midwicket boundary led Australia to what proved to be a more than adequate 147 and, once the hosts had Ian Bell back in the hutch for a ridiculously classy 39, it was near one-way traffic.
Kevin Pietersen appeared to be late for a Brylcreem styling appointment and gave White some catching practice at short cover, before Paul Collingwood played perhaps the worst Twenty20 knock ever seen in international cricket.
The England captain poked, scraped and nudged around in hopelessly out-of-nick fashion before finally providing everyone with a collective sigh of relief as he rather mournfully and selflessly gave up and fell to Watson for six.
Eoin Morgan was the key, according to everyone, but England were locked out as Finch took a fine catch on the midwicket boundary to hand Mitchell 'he bowls to the left, he bowls to the right' Johnson a wicket for a leg-side long hop.
If anyone doubted the modest and humble heart of Andrew Strauss they needed only to cast their eye over to the cover boundary where the double Ashes-winning skipper was 'doing a Luke-ozade Wright' and handing out the drinks.
Chris Woakes conjured up hopes of an incredible late rescue-act as he hammered a heroic 101m six over wide long-on, but his decision to settle for a single next ball and let Timmy Bresnan swing the long handle was a regrettable, misjudged call.
The Yorkshireman would struggle to hit a six on Cleckheaton Green at the best of times with his 'stuck in Bondi beach sand' footwork and sluggish reaction times, and Brett Lee restricted the number seven to a scuffed drive to midwicket for one.
It was a valiant late bid for victory from the tourists - who saw their remarkable run of successive wins in the format extinguished - but it was Australia who ended the two-match series with a session on the VBs thanks to a burly Victorian with an eye for a savage slog.
Both sides have a two-day break now before embarking on one of the greatest joys and thrills of cricket in the modern era: a seven-match one-day international series. The stakes could hardly be greater.
SHOT OF THE DAY: The pre-match Turkish dead-lifts assisted Watto no end as he launched a quite staggering leg glance over deep backward square for six runs - a blow which was all the more remarkable given that it comfortably cleared an 89m boundary with the opener having stoutly refused to move his feet.
STAT OF THE DAY: The pre-match build-up at the MCG included the crowd supposedly setting a new world record for the most people simultaneously doing the chicken dance, with the idea being initiated by a company to whom an entire family eating from one solitary bucket is apparently entirely credible. The 72,000 strong record set at a county fair in Canfield, Ohio back in 1996 was reportedly smashed.
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "There is no doubt that one swallow does not make a summer. Equally, one Finch does not make for a so-called Australian resurgence." (Daveyboy clearly loves birdwatching as much as doing forced chicken dances at cricket matches.)