England supreme over Australia in ICC World T20 - but don’t expect the same in The Ashes

MUCH WAS said in the build-up to this match as to how the winner would land an important psychological blow before the Ashes.

England's Jos Buttler, left, talks with his team-mate Dawid Malan in Dubai. Picture: AP/Aijaz Rahi

Poppycock and piffle.

Silliness on stilts.

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Not only are T20 and Test cricket entirely different formats, as far apart in cricketing terms as the sun and moon, but the Ashes is being played in a completely different country and in completely different conditions, featuring a number of different players to boot.

England's Jos Buttler hits a six on his way to an unbeaten 71 against Australia in Dubai. Picture: AP/Aijaz Rahi

The need to put everything into Ashes perspective these days is almost pathological; this was simply a 20 overs game between England and Australia.

An important one, no doubt, and the third for both countries in the five-match group stage of the T20 World Cup, with both going into the game with a 100 per cent record.

Someone’s had to give – both would have gone in the event of a tie, or in the extremely improbable outcome of a no-result in the desert (oh for a violent sandstorm, by the way, to clog the windpipes of the screaming quasi-adults on the public address system) – and Australia’s went for a burton as England won by eight wickets with embarrassing ease.

It was yet another mullering inflicted by Eoin Morgan’s men, who followed facile triumphs over West Indies and Bangladesh by dismissing Australia for 125 after winning the toss before cruising home with all of 50 balls remaining, giving them one foot in the semi-finals with two matches left.

England's Chris Woakes impressed with 2-23 from his four overs against Australia in Dubai. Picture: AP/Aijaz Rahi

This game was effectively decided in the two powerplays.

At the end of their opening six overs with the bat, Australia were 21-3 – which then became 21-4 – after two wickets and a catch from the impressive Chris Woakes.

At the same stage, England were 66-0, more than halfway to their target, after a typically rapid start handed to them by Jason Roy and Jos Buttler.

Buttler went on to an unbeaten 71, made from 32 balls with five sixes and five fours, with Jonny Bairstow chipping in with an undefeated 16 from 11 deliveries with two sixes after Roy had been leg-before reverse-sweeping Adam Zampa and Dawid Malan caught behind pushing forward at fellow spinner Ashton Agar, selected at the expense of all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.

So dominant were England that Moeen Ali, their best spinner hitherto, was not even needed to turn over his arm, Morgan instead relying on Adil Rashid’s leg-spin and Liam Livingstone’s appetising, fast-improving allsorts.

Only Aaron Finch, the Australia captain and former Yorkshire batsman, registered a score of note, striking 44 from 49 deliveries with four fours.

Other than that, there was a run-a-ball 20 from Agar and a run-a-ball 18 from Matthew Wade, plus some handy striking at the end from Pat Cummins (6, 6, out) and Mitchell Starc (13 from six balls).

Chris Jordan led the way with 3-17, Livingstone (1-15) and Rashid (1-19) also playing their part with some economical bowling, while England’s fielding was once more impressive.

“Pretty good,” said Morgan, when asked what he thought of the victory at the post-match presentation, thereby exhibiting a handy line in colossal understatement. “We got off to a good start in the first two games of the tournament, and we held up the form from those first two games well.

“We started well with the ball, taking wickets and then continued to be relentless; the bowlers really came up trumps.

“Jason and Jos looked in really good form again, set up the chase and made it quite comfortable in the end.”

Is there a better striker of a white ball in world cricket than the freakish Buttler?

Not according to Livingstone, no slouch himself in that respect, as he paid tribute to the wicketkeeper, who wellied his quintet of sixes in the arc over mid-off and mid-on.

“It was a pleasure to watch a genius at work,” said Livingstone, who last summer memorably cleared the new stand at Emerald Headingley with a six off the Pakistan bowler Haris Rauf.

“Jos is the best hitter of a white ball in the world. It was an absolute clinic of white-ball power-hitting.

“Hopefully we can build on this momentum and keep it going to the end of the group stage and through the rest of the tournament.”

In the heat of Dubai, Woakes set the tone for an unchanged England, striking with the second ball of the second over when David Warner nibbled behind.

Woakes took a brilliant one-handed catch over his head off Jordan as Steve Smith’s mis-timed pull left Australia 8-2.

Woakes pinned Glenn Maxwell as he played across the line, and Rashid trapped Marcus Stoinis with a well-disguised googly.

Livingstone had Wade caught at long-on, then caught Agar himself at deep mid-wicket off Tymal Mills, who did not have the best of games but who claimed another scalp with the final ball of the innings when Starc was caught behind.

In between times, Jordan struck twice in two deliveries when Finch lofted to long-off, where Bairstow took an excellent tumbling catch, before yorking Cummins.

Amid the mayhem, Zampa was run-out in the final over.

Roy and Buttler took down anything in their wake when England replied, Buttler reaching his fifty from just 25 balls.

Australia looked visibly shell-shocked at the end and now face a fight to reach the knockout stages.

“England bowled well and put us on the back foot early, which is why they have been the best in the world for a while,” reflected Finch.

“We had to bowl them out, but Jos Buttler played a hell of an innings and it was just one of those nights.”

If this was indeed a foretaste of the Ashes, which it most emphatically was not, then England can look forward to a 5-0 win.

If only it was that straightforward...