LONDON, JUNE 14 (Reuters): Australia made a stuttering start to coach Justin Langer’s tenure as they lost by three wickets to England in the opening match of the one-day series at The Oval on Wednesday.
Only Glenn Maxwell impressed as Australia batted first, scoring 62 as the touring side lost regular wickets and were bowled out for a mediocre 214 in the 47th over.
England, humbled by Scotland on Sunday, made a meal of reaching the low target, however, and when top scorer Eoin Morgan (69), Jos Buttler and Joe Root (50) fell in the space of three overs the hosts were wobbling on 163 for six.
David Willey eased England home, finishing the match off with a booming six.
Sheets of sandpaper with “4” and “6” printed on them were handed out on the approaches to the Oval — a reminder of the ball-tampering scandal that engulfed Australian cricket this year and cost Steve Smith the captaincy.
Coach Darren Lehmann stood down after the test series in South Africa and Langer’s new-look Australian batting line-up made an inauspicious start.
Travis Head chased a wide outswinger from Willey and edged to Jonny Bairstow for a routine slip catch and Aaron Finch struck a couple of boundaries before a rash drive at Moeen Ali sent an easy catch to backward point.
Shaun Marsh looked in good nick for his 24 before Moeen got one past his outside edge, the ball striking the top of off stump to leave Australia on 52 for three.
Captain Tim Paine’s rash reverse sweep off Moeen went straight to Mark Wood at backward point for 12. Australia tried to raise the tempo and Marcus Stoinis lofted a six off of Adil Rashid only to nudge one behind to keeper Jos Buttler having scored 22.
Maxwell, who struck a 52-ball half century, shared an 84-run stand with Ashton Agar for the sixth wicket to raise Australian hopes of a challenging total.
But Maxwell top-edged Liam Plunkett to deep square leg where Bairstow took the simplest of catches and Agar was plumb lbw to Rashid before Plunkett and Wood mopped up the tail.
Billy Stanlake bowled Jason Roy for a duck in England’s reply and when Bairstow was caught on the boundary England were 38 for three.
Morgan and Root put England in total control before the hosts stumbled over the line.
The second match of the five-game series is in Cardiff on Saturday.