SOUTHHAMPTON: England fell to a 12-run defeat by Australia in a thrilling World Cup warm-up match in Southampton after Steve Smith’s first century since being banned for his part in the ball-tampering scandal.
Smith hit 116 off 102 balls in an impressively composed innings to steer his side to 297-9.
James Vince and Jos Buttler struck fine fifties to seemingly put England on course for victory only for Australia to regularly peg the hosts back.
Needing 15 off the last over, England lost their two final wickets to end a disappointing and disjointed chase.
England, who also sustained a series of injury worries, face Afghanistan in another warm-up on Monday before facing South Africa in Thursday’s World Cup opener.
Defending champions Australia begin their campaign against Afghanistan on June 1 after a warm-up match with Sri Lanka on Monday.
Even in an unofficial match with relaxed rules – Australia named a team of 12 and England were able to bring in substitutes for injured players – the hosts were expected to comfortably chase down a target of under 300.
The pitch offered some variable bounce – openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow both caught after miscuing shots – while off-spinner Nathan Lyon was especially canny, but England will be frustrated to have fallen short, even if the result will likely not have much impact on their World Cup campaign.
Having to miss Hampshire’s One-Day Cup defeat by Somerset at Lord’s, Vince emulated England’s usual number three Joe Root with an innings of deft accumulation, clipping through mid-wicket and mid-on to accompany his trademark cover drives.