|First one-day international, Emirates Old Trafford|
|Australia 294-9: Maxwell 77, Marsh 73, Wood 3-54, Archer 3-57|
|England 275-9: Billings 118, Bairstow 84, Zampa 4-55, Hazlewood 3-26|
|Australia won by 19 runs|
England fell to a 19-run defeat against Australia despite Sam Billings’ maiden century in the first one-day international at Old Trafford.
Chasing 295, England were quickly reduced to 57-4 after a fine opening spell from pace bowler Josh Hazlewood.
Billings’ 118 and 88 from Jonny Bairstow gave England hope, but the hosts could not get on top of the creeping run-rate and finished on 275-9.
Australia had earlier recovered from 123-5 to post 294-9 from their 50 overs, largely thanks to a superb 126-run partnership between Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell.
England will be pleased with the maturity Billings – who is not a regular in this one-day side – showed to help them recover from their poor start.
However, the Kent batsman was left with too much work to do with the tail and Australia capitalised, with leg-spinner Adam Zampa taking 4-55 and Hazlewood a brilliant 3-26.
Australia were without Steve Smith, who withdrew from the match after being struck on the head in a net session on Friday.
Smith passed a concussion test but opted against playing, and will need to pass another if he is to play in the next match on Sunday.
The Ashes 2.0
This felt like a flashback to last summer’s Ashes series, with Hazlewood and Pat Cummins tormenting England with pinpoint accuracy.
Billings was able to weather the Australian bowlers, starting slowly and reaping the rewards for his patience, but England’s top order endured a torrid time.
Jason Roy, returning from a side strain, could barely lay bat on ball and the first shot that found the middle of the bat ended with the ball nestled in Hazlewood’s hand as he took a superb one-handed catch in his follow-through.
Hazlewood suffocated England, bowling three maidens in his opening eight-over spell, and the pressure told.
Joe Root edged Hazlewood behind, Eoin Morgan hoicked Zampa to cover and Jos Buttler skied the same bowler to a diving Marnus Labuschagne at long-off to leave England reeling.
Bairstow was shackled at the start of the innings but persevered, making the slowest half-century of his career, before holing out to long-on off Zampa.
Billings started scratchily – at one stage he was four from 20 balls – but the way he manipulated the field, jumped on loose deliveries in the closing overs and adapted to the game situation showed a real maturity.
He reached a 101-ball century with a powerfully-swept four and, although it was ultimately in vain, his performance bodes well for England’s long-term future.
Maxwell & Marsh star for Australia
Without Smith, a mainstay for Australia at number three, and a longer tail to accommodate more bowlers, the tourists’ batting appeared creakier than usual.
David Warner’s lean tour continued as he was bowled by a beautiful 90mph delivery from Archer, before captain Aaron Finch edged Mark Wood’s first ball behind.
The top order floundered against leg-spinner Adil Rashid, unable to read his variations. Labuschagne was trapped plumb lbw and wasted a review on the decision, before Alex Carey top-edged a sweep to Billings at square leg.
It took the dogged determination of Marsh and Maxwell’s flamboyancy to dig Australia out of a hole. Marsh manoeuvred the ball well, finding the singles, while Maxwell went on the attack with four sixes, including back-to-back swipes off Archer.
Although Maxwell fell to the next ball, under-edging Archer onto his stumps, Australia were able to scramble the singles and occasionally punch the ball to the boundary.
As England found out themselves, this was not an easy pitch to time shots on – and ultimately, Australia’s late surge from Maxwell and Marsh proved to be enough.
‘It slipped away from us’ – what they said
England captain Eoin Morgan: “It slipped away from us in the first 10 overs with the bat, they didn’t give us much to get away with. We did reasonably well with the ball, we thought it was a reasonable score.
“I thought Jonny and Sam keeping in us in the game for so long, if we kept that partnership until the 40th over we would have been in the game.
“Sam’s opportunities over the last four years have been extremely limited and sporadic at times but to come in and show hunger in his training, it’s outstanding, it shows a lot of resilience and character.
“When Ben Stokes is missing he leaves a big hole with the ball and the bat, we have a lot of players who bat in the top four for their counties but we need to add depth to those who bat at six, and Sam has done that.”
England’s Sam Billings: “I’m obviously very pleased, but in a losing cause it’s mixed feelings.
“It is one of the hardest teams in world sport to get into at the moment. I think I’ve put too much pressure on myself in the past. I’ve gone back to enjoying it and taking the pressure off myself when the opportunity arises. Hopefully I can kick on and keep putting scores on the board.
“I don’t think it matters how many runs I get, I know I’m only keeping Stokesy’s chair warm for him.”