Over 35 Men: Australia v England
Fittingly, the tournament opens up with a replay of the last Masters Grand Final (Perth, 2001). In that game Australia batted first and posted 125 runs, then restricted England to 76.
Both sides are missing a couple of players who did very well in 2001, but both have also retained a solid core from that last tournament. While Australia's bowling attack is probably a tad less venomous than last time, it's still hard to see England reversing the last result . . . . .
And the tournament has begun.
England batted first, and despite a very promising start, eventually posted a reasonably disappointing 83. Australia more than doubled that score, although England did take one skin.
Joe Crocker had the honour of umpiring the first game of this tournament.
The first ball of the tournament was bowled by Powell (Australia), to Kenney (England), and resulted in a 2 scored. The first pair for England, Kenney and Hughes, put on 8, 7, 8 and 5 for their skin of 28.
The second English pair of Rock (resplendent in gold Nikes and his hair shaved and dyed in an English flag) and Mughal opened with 14 from the first over, minus 1 from the second (bowled by Lahey and containing 2 catches), 12 off Farley and 9 off O'Brien, for a total of 34. Rock scored 18, Mughal 16 in a very solid and even performance.
Walter and Fielding were off to a bad start, with 2 runouts and minus 5 off Powell. A stumping off Panecasio for 1 off the next over, then 11 off Farley and just 1 off Dukes saw them to a skin of 8.
And if the third pair got off to a bad start, Barnatt and Lindsey struck an iceberg. A catch off the first ball, then two consecutive runouts, a single, dot-ball, another runout and a 2 saw them slump to minus 17 off Homfrey's over. They recovered somewhat off Lahey, scoring 13, and then 3 consecutive wides off Butler cancelled out the stumping they suffered--6 off the over. The last over cost O'Brien and the Australians 11 runs, but England would not have been satisfied with their total of 83, especially considering they were 62 after 8 overs.
Australia set about the chase with Homfrey and Dukes. Consistency became the name of the game, with overs of 12, 11, 10 and 8 (no wickets) for an opening stand of 41.
Panecasio and Farley followed, scoring 2 (including a runout), 7 (including a catch), 6 (4 singles and a wide off Mughal) and 6 off Barnatt, for a skin of 21 and a total of 62. After 8 overs both teams scores were level, and England had picked up one skin.
However, O'Brien and Powell came in and effectively killed the game with a great batting display. 15 off Rock, 20 off Walter (including a 7 struck by O'Brien), 11 off Fielding and 10 (including a catch) off Walter, saw them to a skin of 56. Australia passed England's total on the 4th ball of the 10th over (with that 7). After 12 overs Australia were 35 runs ahead.
Not to rest on the collective laurels, Lahey and Butler continued where the previous pair left off--10, 11, 14 and 15 for a skin of 50 and a team total of 168.
England lost 13 wickets to the Australians' 3, with Australia's first wicket not lost until the 5th ball of the 5th over.
A resounding victory to the Australians.