Aussies sent packing by rain and rampant England
CRICKET: Cruelled by rain yet again at Edgbaston but also smashed around by an unrelenting English batting attack, Aussie captain Steve Smith said his side had no excuses for a final performance that was well below expected standards.
Two washouts in the opening two games, and an abandoned final practice match, left the Aussies well short of a gallop in the two-week tournament and for the batsmen, who had faced just 25 of a possible 100 overs before the England game, it told.
Smith scored 56 himself, but none of the batsmen who got a start went on to make the big score necessary and the total Australian return (9-277) was well short of the required mark against an English line-up now setting the cricket world abuzz with their own capacity to post and chase massive totals.
That was the case in this match as well when million-dollar all-rounder Ben Stokes smashed an unbeaten 102 and English captain Eoin Morgan bludgeoned his way to 87, with the pair combining for 21 fours and seven sixes in the home team's 40-run win in a chase that teetered early, before taking complete control.
A mid-innings rain delay didn't help Australia's cause, with England reeling at 3-35, but when the match was officially abandoned with 10 overs of the England innings to go as more rain poured down and the home side way in front, Australia had very little positives to draw on.
"Out of the tournament now, so that's never nice. I thought we let ourselves down a little bit,” said Smith, who now gets to go home for the first time since February.
"We had some frustrating games throughout and just haven't been able to find any momentum, I guess. And today, yeah, it was disappointing.
"When you're playing in a big tournament for your country, you need to step up and get the job done. We weren't able to do that on this occasion, unfortunately.”
It was the second straight pre-finals exit at a Champions Trophy for Australia after a similar campaign in 2013, also in the UK, was undone by rain.
Smith now heads home to a cricket landscape being dominated by the pay impasse with Cricket Australia, a situation which followed the players around the Champions Trophy.
He, and his nationally contracted teammates are all out of contract after June 30 if a new Memorandum of Understanding can't be agreed to by CA and the Australian Cricketers Association.
The Australian captain said he would have "a few chats” with the key players in negotiations on his return, having avoided weighing in to the debate like his vice-captain David Warner for the duration of the tournament.
Despite the ongoing slanging match, Smith remained confident there would be a resolution before he next has to suit up for the Test tour of Bangladesh in August.
"I'm sure it will, yeah,” he said.
"We're supporting the ACA (Australian Cricketers Association) and we're right behind them. We might have a few chats and stuff here and there now that this tournament's over. But, yeah, we're supportive of everything they're doing.”
Most of the 15-man squad now head home, but some, including unused paceman James Pattinson, will remain the UK to play county cricket as he continues to build a case for Ashes selection when England tour Australia this summer.