Resurgent England take on under fire Australia - First ODI preview
First ODI - England v Australia, Southampton
Start time 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali’s scintillating batting; Pat Cummins’ 90mph plus thunderbolts; Ben Stokes’ athletic catch; Steven Smith’s flamboyant 90; England’s unlikely win.
All highlights from the Twenty20 on Monday adding more images to a summer that has been rich with memorable moments.
Attention now turns to a five match One-Day International series, sandwiched in to a manic eleven days.
If ever a series was designed to show the increasing ridiculousness of the international schedule, it is this one, but nonetheless, the two sides will be expected to put on a show in the first game on Thursday at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
Morgan’s England side will be full of confidence after winning the T20 game from a position of real difficulty when Smith and Glenn Maxwell moved Australia to 124 for three after 13 overs.
The performance of this young side in closing the game out merely reinforces the impression that England have players who relish these situations.
The squad for the ODI series is bolstered by Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett and James Taylor who return after being part of the squad for the New Zealand series earlier in the summer; James Vince who did not play in the T20 and Reece Topley who did, go back to their counties.
Morgan said after the game in Cardiff that there are now 20 players who are all vying for a place in the ODI squad and there is real depth at his disposal.
Jonny Bairstow and Chris Jordan are two players not in the squad who would do a fine job if selected.
There are some selection decisions to be made for the final eleven too, most pressing of which is where to bat Ali in the order. He could replace Jason Roy who failed to make a score of note against New Zealand but who does have an x-factor and unselfishness about his strokeplay.
It surely makes sense to back someone who epitomises England’s fearlessness for at least a few more games, especially as Ali could slot in at number three in place of the rested Joe Root.
This would mean no room once again for Taylor, surely the unluckiest player in the English game at the moment.
What is not in doubt is that Ali needs to play after missing the New Zealand series in order to get more red ball cricket ahead of the Ashes, his case made almost irrefutable by a terrific knock in the T20 of 72 not out from 46 balls.
He also picked up the vital wicket of Maxwell – with a nod to an excellent catch from Stokes – and provides a spin option to complement Adil Rashid.
Morgan, who was given a month off by Middlesex to refresh after a gruelling year, also looks in prime form but Sam Billings will need a score soon to retain his place although he is hamstrung by coming in at number seven in one-day cricket and expected to give it a thrash from the off.
In the bowling attack, it is likely that either Wood or Plunkett will replace Topley, but otherwise it should be Rashid, David Willey and Steven Finn who complete a bowling attack that has pace, a spinner who can turn the ball both ways and a left-arm seam option.
Australia will be disappointed with not winning the T20 but will feel confident of challenging in the ODI series – their team looks more experienced and stronger in this form of the game.
Smith and Maxwell look to be the main dangers for England and Joe Burns, a Queenslander, will open the batting with David Warner after impressing last week against Ireland.
Australia were perhaps a batsman light in the T20 game so George Bailey will likely come in to the middle order after confirming this week that he has no plans to retire just yet; he has been a solid performer for Australia in the shorter forms of the game.
The pace which Pat Cummins displayed in Cardiff – averaging 91mph - means that together with Mitchell Starc, the England top order will have to deal with two 90mph plus bowlers as well as the underrated Western Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile who took three wickets against Ireland last week.
With the recent wet weather in England and more predicted for Southampton on Wednesday, it is tough to predict how the pitch will play.
Although conditions are set fair for the match on Thursday, there is likely to be some moisture in the pitch regardless which should suit England more than the tourists.
If this is the case, Australia may opt to play an extra seam bowler in Mitchell Marsh and have spin from Maxwell and Smith rather than play the left-arm spinner Aston Agar. Shane Watson will also provide some useful overs of medium pace.
Australia are a new-look side in ODI cricket to some extent but they have seven of their World Cup winning squad in England for this series and will present a tougher challenge than New Zealand did earlier in the season simply because their bowling attack is stronger.
In the ODI at The Ageas Bowl in June, England made over 300, a score that was chased down by the Black Caps with three wickets and an over to spare.
It continued a poor run of form for England at the ground: they have not won there in a ODI since 2012 when they beat the West Indies.
Past history means little these days though, such is the exuberance and lack of timidity on display from modern one-day teams; they simply going out to thrash the ball to all parts irrespective of the situation, opposition or venue.
Five games in eleven days then: unsustainable scheduling perhaps, but likely to be brilliantly entertaining. England to win 3-1.
If there is some moisture in the pitch, you would presume that England will be better positioned to take advantage but Australia are always dangerous.
England are a side on the crest of a wave at the moment so (as much as you can predict these games) I predict England to make a winning start to the series in Southampton.
England: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan (capt), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Sam Billings, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Steven Finn, Mark Wood/ Liam Plunkett
Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Steven Smith (capt), George Bailey, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Mathew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins
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