Australia v England ODI Series Preview

After England’s horrendous performance in the 2013/14 Ashes, the limited overs specialists will be looking to bounce back and salvage some sort of dignity for the English game. Australia outclassed England in the longer format but it shouldn’t be a one sided affair in the ODI series.

England: Cook ©, Ballance, Bell, Bopara, Bresnan, Briggs, Broad, Buttler, Carberry, Finn, Jordan, Morgan, Rankin, Root, Stokes, Tredwell, Woakes.

Australia: Clarke ©, Bailey, Coulter-Nile, Doherty, Faulkner, Finch, Haddin, Johnson, McKay, Marsh, Maxwell, Pattinson, Warner, Watson

Key English Players: Cook, Bopara, Broad, Buttler, Tredwell

Alistair Cook’s captaincy has been under much scrutiny as of late (especially from Shane Warne) and his form hasn’t been anything special. This ODI series will be a real test of Cook’s captaincy as well as his innings structure. In the 19 matches that Cook has captained and scored 50 or more, England have gone on to win 68% of the matches, so we can see how important Cook’s form is to the team. Cook hasn’t yet played an ODI in Australia and after missing the ODI series against Australia in the 2013 summer, the Aussie bowlers will be chomping at the bit to set the tone towards the English batsmen.

Ravi Bopara is key to England’s performance. His medium pacers aren’t just useful, they are dangerous if executed well. As well as his bowling, his finishing of an innings has improved dramatically with the bat. Bopara had a brilliant ICC Champions Trophy for England and since then has scored his first ODI ton against Ireland in just 75 balls. In addition to his ODI form, Bopara has been playing in the Dhaka Premier Division and scoring runs for fun including an unbeaten 157. He has also been in Australia for a while playing in the Big Bash for the Sydney Sixers and getting used to the Australian conditions.

Stuart Broad, or as the Australian media call him ‘Stuart Fraud’, is going to be a big part of this ODI series. How he bowls, how he helps out as a vice-captain, and how reacts to Australian crowd will be pivotal towards England’s performance in the field. Broad is another of England’s senior players who have not played an ODI in Australia, in fact only four members of the 17-man squad have played an ODI in Australia. Bell (17), Morgan (6), Bresnan (2), Bopara (1). Broad currently has 160 ODI wickets and is currently 4th on the English list, only eight behind Freddie Flintoff.

Jos Buttler is one of England’s brightest talents and as Australia have already learnt, one of the most destructive batsman in world cricket. His inventive style of play and big hitting are what earned him a place in the Aussie Big Bash League, and has already impressed hugely for the Melbourne Renegades. Not only is his batting making a name for himself, he also has improved massively with the gloves. In the ICC Champions Trophy, Buttler equalled the world record for dismissals in an innings and joined some of the greats of the one-day game such as Boucher, Gilchrist and Dhoni.

James Tredwell is now England’s number one spinner in the ODI format thanks to Graeme Swann’s retirement (although he might’ve been number one before). Tredwell will have his work cut out in the upcoming series as we have seen over the past six months that under Darren Lehmann’s coaching, Australia have a plan to attack the spinners as much as possible. With the power of Warner, Finch, Watson in the top three and the sheer class of Clarke at number four, Tredwell will need to be on top form to counteract the wave of batsmen that will be coming after him.

Key Australian Players: Clarke, Faulkner, Finch, Johnson, Watson

Michael Clarke is the best captain in the world in my opinion. Bar none. He out-captained Cook five times as well as out-scoring him. In Michael Clarke, Australia have a master tactician to lead them and one of the most technically correct batsmen and the greatest player of spin around. 7581 ODI runs at an average of 45 with a very healthy strike rate says it all really.

James Faulkner is another bright spark coming out of Australian cricket. He made his test debut during the 2013 Ashes, but the shorter format is where he has made his name. The 23-year-old has played 19 ODI’s including a sublime series performance against India in which he scored 230 runs at an average of 115 and a strike rate of 150. He also took seven wickets, but in a series of ridiculously high scores, he bowled much better than the statistics suggest.

Aaron Finch is one of, if not the most dangerous batsmen in the game. We saw his magnificent hitting in the T20 match against England in August when he scored a world record 156 from just 63 balls, peppering the ball to all corners of The Ageas Bowl. If you didn’t see it, here are the highlights. You’re welcome.

Mitchell Johnson over the last year or so has been up there with the best pace bowlers in the world. He terrified the English batsmen in the Ashes and after picking up 37 wickets he is on top form. Johnson’s pace has always been troubling to batsmen and now that he has sorted his accuracy and consistency, Tash Gordon (a new nickname I’m going to try and spread) is a serious handful.

Shane Watson has always been a fantastic cricketer, but the ODI scene is where I think he really shines brightest. Being such a powerful player, Watson is capable of clearing boundaries anywhere in the world and also bowling at a decent pace. Clarke uses his bowling as more of a defensive tool, rather than to attack and take wickets. When Shane Watson fires, Australia rarely lose.

My Predictions:

  1. Australia will win 3-2 or 4-1
  2. James Faulkner will be the top wicket-taker (should he stay fit)
  3. Shane Watson will be the top run-scorer (should he stay fit)

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