David Warner may just have found his opening partner for next year’s 50-over World Cup, with Travis Head peeling off his third ODI century in what is becoming a formidable opening partnership for Australia.
The left-handed duo combined for a huge 269-run partnership – the biggest ever ODI stand at the MCG – as they propelled Australia to a thumping 221-run victory at the MCG on Tuesday night to sweep No.1 ranked England in the three -match Dettol series.
The margin was England’s biggest ever defeat in the 50-over format, surpassing a 219-run loss to Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2018.
Warner and Head have hit 795 runs at a phenomenal average of 113.57 in their seven innings at the top of Australia’s one-day line-up, with the South Australian now firmly in the box seat to be Aaron Finch’s long-term replacement following the former captain’s ODI retirement in September.
Their opening stand was the highest the highest partnership for any wicket in an ODI at the MCG, surpassing Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting’s 225 in 2002.
Remarkably it wasn’t even their best opening partnership, falling 15 runs short of the 284 they put on against Pakistan in Adelaide in January 2017.
It led Australia to a mammoth 5-355 from 48 overs; the highest total of all-time in the format at the venue despite two overs being lost to rain, and it proved far too many for a weary England to reel in.
Head rode his luck early; he dropped on four at slip by Liam Dawson after chasing a wide delivery from David Willey in the second over before overturning an lbw decision on review that was given out in the next over by Chris Woakes.
The 28-year-old, who had to pass a late fitness test to take his place in the XI and didn’t take the field later in the evening, is known for his strength square of the wicket but showcased his ability down the ground with several powerful drives and a glorious six over mid-on off Willey.
He went to fifty with a ferocious straight drive off Sam Curran that floored Warner at the non-strikers’ end and wasn’t perturbed by a 30-minute rain delay halfway through the 20th over, slapping the left-armer for a boundary and Dawson for a huge six in the first two overs following the resumption.
He brought up his second international century at the MCG off just 91 balls, cradling his bat to the dressing rooms as he celebrated reaching triple figures for the first time since becoming a father to daughter Milla in September, which was the reason he missed Australia’s previous ODI series against Zimbabwe and New Zealand in Far North Queensland.
Head was eventually out in the 39th over, three balls after Warner also fell to Olly Stone for 106 (102), but not before registering his best ODI knock of 152 from 130 balls with 16 fours and four sixes.
Warner played second-fiddle to his junior partner for the majority of their record-breaking stand apart from a brief assault on Stone (4-85) that yielded three boundaries in an over, with the right-arm quick England’s most successful and expensive bowler for the day.
The veteran opener reached his 19th one-day international century and first in any format for Australia since January 2020 in 97 deliveries before holing out to deep mid-wicket five balls later.
The innings took Warner past 6000 international runs in the 50-over format from 139 innings, the 10th and fastest Australia men’s bat to reach the milestone ahead of Matthew Hayden (154 innings).
England suffered an early blow with batter Phil Salt concussed while diving unsuccessfully in ninth over to try and prevent one of Warner’s 10 boundaries and was eventually subbed out for Moeen Ali during the rain delay, who had initially been rested from the contest alongside leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
Another brief 20-minute rain delay at 6pm reduced Australia’s innings to 48 overs, with Mitch Marsh (30 off 16), Steve Smith (21 off 16) and Alex Carey (12no off six) pushing England’s target to a record chase of 364 from 48 overs following the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern adjustment.
England, who secured their second T20 World Cup crown just nine days ago, could perhaps be forgiven for having their minds elsewhere with the tourists booked on a flight home early tomorrow morning.
Their pursuit never really got going, and despite Mitchell Starc being rested, Australia’s new ball pairing of Pat Cummins (2-25) and Josh Hazlewood (1-21) sliced through the visitors’ top-order to leave them 3-66 and requiring more than 10 an over for the final 30.
Jason Roy, given a lifeline with the injury to Jonny Bairstow after being dumped from England’s World Cup squad, missed out for the third match in a row, with his play and miss percentage of 47 in his 48-ball 33 the highest ever in an ODI innings of 20 balls or more.
A double-wicket over to star leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4-31), who took his tally to 11 wickets for the series (the most by an Australian in a home bilateral series), iced the contest as England lost 4-6 in 17 deliveries to crash to 142 all out in the 32nd over.
Sean Abbott also added two wickets in his return to the national side in place of Ashton Agar who traveled to Canberra following Saturday’s second ODI to represent the Prime Minister’s XI against the West Indies.
The 3-0 result is just Australia’s second ODI whitewash of England in a multi-game bilateral series, with both nations now turning their attention to the red-ball format with Australia to start the Test summer against the Windies in Perth next Wednesday, with England traveling to Pakistan for a three-match series in December.
Men’s Dettol ODI Series v England
1st ODI: Australia won by six wickets
2nd ODI: Australia won by 72 runs
3rd ODI: Australia won by 221 runs
Australia ODI squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
England ODI squad: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Sam Curran, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Olly Stone, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Luke Wood