On returning home, England a two Test series against Pakistan. Any hopes of improvement were destroyed, as Pakistan ran up a 9 wicket success in the first Test at Lords. England desperately needed a victory at Headingley, if they were to avoid sliding further on their downward spiral.
Pakistan’s batting performance in the second Test fell some way short of what they had produced at Lords. England’s bowlers shared the wickets, as Pakistan suffered an innings defeat. The series had been drawn and there was now some limited overs cricket, prior to the arrival of India, ranked as the world’s best Test team.
Despite the Test match setbacks, England’s one day form had proved to be consistently strong. Australia would provide the opposition in a 5-match series. Prior to that contest commencing, there was the small matter of taking on minnows Scotland at The Grange. The perfect match to get England into the one day mindset, before taking on the Aussies.
England decided to put Scotland in to bat. Although they had to watch Scotland’s opening pair put on a century partnership, England would still have been confident. A stunning, unbeaten 140 from Calum McLeod (scored off just 94 balls and including 19 boundaries) was to change the shape of the game. Scotland reached an extremely competitive 371-5. England had a fight on their hands.
England’s run chase started well. Indeed, they blasted past the 200 mark with only 2 wickets down and half of the overs still in hand. England seemed to be cruising. But wickets then fell at regular intervals, with England ultimately falling 6 runs short. Scotland had a famous victory and England had the worst possible preparation for the arrival of Australia.
As it happened, however, the Aussies were arriving in disarray. With key players suspended following the ball tampering controversy in South Africa, they were shorn of their best players. England were masterful, recording a 5-0 series whitewash and following it up with a win in the sole Twenty20 international for good measure.
The series highlight arrived at Trent Bridge, where Australia fatefully put England in to bat. What followed was explosive, as England reached 481-6, a record for the highest ever score in a one day international. The scorecard showed an Australian team left in tatters: Alex Hales, on his own ground, top scored with 147 from 92 balls. Jonny Bairstow (139 from 92 balls) wasn’t far behind, while the bowling figures were bleak.
Australia never came close to chasing the total, eventually being bowled out for only 239. India arrived with England suddenly looking in better spirits.
After getting the limited overs cricket out of the way (successfully for the home side), a brilliant Test match series was soon in hand.