A single run separated the sides as England Visually Impaired lost the opening T20 of this weekend’s two-match series against Australia in Adelaide.
Both teams observed a minute’s silence before play started and wore black armbands throughout the game to pay their respects to acting Australia captain, Steve Palmer, and his family, who lost a close family member yesterday.
Australia won the toss and opted to field, leaving England to bat in tough conditions.
Justin Hollingsworth and Mark Turnham opened England’s innings but Turnham was bowled early by Lindsay Heaven and went for two.
ODI captain Matt Dean joined proceedings and built up a 50-run partnership with Hollingsworth. The pair were looking good when Hollingsworth was run out for 38.
Captain Luke Sugg picked up where Hollingsworth left off and he and Dean also chalked up a 50-run stand before he too was run out, courtesy of a direct throw from Palmer. Sugg exited the field on 27.
A nice contribution from Si Ledwith opposite Dean meant England played hard and fast cricket in the final couple of overs to build a score.
Ledwith was bowled by Heaven just before the end of the innings and England finished on 165 for five.
Dean rounded off another composed display on 58 not out.
Australia batted with intent in their chase and openers Heaven and Palmer posted an impressive 117 runs between them.
Things were looking good for the home side but England managed to halt momentum through Luke Sugg, who ran out Heaven for 69 in the 14th over.
Palmer continued to bat well and brought up his half century with a boundary in the 18th over.
Down to the wire
Australia needed six runs to win coming into the final over and Hollingsworth was called into the attack to see out the game.
With two balls remaining and the scores level, Hollingsworth took the wicket of Cory Heberley to welcome in-form batsman Matt Cameron into the fray.
The result came right down to the wire and Australia were awarded a wide off the final ball to win the game by one run.
Afterwards England Head Coach Ross Hunter said: “Conditions were relatively tough this morning, but we would have made the choice to bat [if England won the toss] because we wanted to impose ourselves and try to control the game.
“There were some really good contributions throughout the innings and getting to 165 we thought was a competitive total but by no means a clearly winning score.
“Australia were fantastic with the bat and made it very difficult for us to take wickets and gain any momentum. They fully deserve their success today.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Hunter said: “With today being such a close game we can’t read too much into the result. We realise we didn’t play the best cricket we could so we want to come back tomorrow and see if we can do that. Hopefully that will give us a win.
“I am incredibly proud of the players and their 4-1 win in the ODI series, with all their hard work paying off in the results they have achieved.”
England Visually Impaired team
Luke Sugg (captain)
Ed Hossell (vice captain)
B1 – Mahomed Khatri
B2 – Mark Bond
B3 – James Millard