For­get The Ashes, this time the scales tip Eng­land’s way

Sport360 - - News - Alex Broun [email protected] [email protected]­derBroun

Fol­low­ing the re­cently com­pleted Ashes se­ries, won so com­pre­hen­sively by Aus­tralia, the old en­e­mies now em­bark on five One Day In­ter­na­tion­als be­fore the sum­mer crick­et­ing tril­ogy is com­pleted with two Twenty20 matches in early Fe­bru­ary.

Although the open­ing ODI to­day at the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground may not in­spire the same ex­cite­ment as the Boxing Day Test – and about half the ticket sales – there are still some points of in­ter­est.

Pri­mar­ily how can Eng­land be ex­pected to bounce back af­ter the dev­as­ta­tion of the 4-0 wal­lop­ing?

The an­swer: sur­pris­ingly well, as from rep­re­sent­ing the same na­tion there is very lit­tle sim­i­lar­ity be­tween this Eng­land line-up and the one that sur­ren­dered so meekly in the main event.

For starters as few as four play­ers who went down in flames in Syd­ney will back-up: open­ing bat Jonny Bairstow, re­cov­ered Joe Root, spin­ner Moeen Ali and medium pacer Tom Cur­ran. A sec­ond medium-pacer/bats­man Chris Woakes, who also fea­tured promi­nently in The Ashes should also make an ap­pear­ance.

Join­ing them are ODI cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan, Jos But­tler, who will be pre­ferred as keeper to Bairstow, the gen­uinely sharp Liam Plun­kett and Mark Wood (not used in the Tests), Ja­son Roy or bad bay No2 Alex Hales, part­ner­ing Bairstow up top, and Adil Rashid, the legspin­ner who should have played in Syd­ney rather than the lim­ited Ma­son Crane.

And un­like the Tests, where ques­tions abounded over Eng­land’s new faces – Mark Stone­man, James Vince, Dawid Malan and Crane – the ques­tion marks to­day hang over the Aus­tralian line-up and a mid­dle or­der that has been the Achilles heel in re­cent years.

Eng­land come into the match with form on their side – four wins from their last five starts – where Aus­tralia are com­pletely the op­po­site, los­ing four of their last five.

And whereas Eng­land have a staa­part ble lineup that picks it­self Aus­tralia have mul­ti­ple op­tions at No5 and 6 with Mar­cus Stoi­nis, Mitchell Marsh and the re­called Cameron White in the mix, a new wick­et­keeper in Tim Paine and a bowl­ing line up without the rested Josh Ha­zle­wood, re­placed by the far less fear­some An­drew Tye.

In the end it may come down again to Steve Smith sav­ing Aus­tralia but his ODI av­er­age of 43.23 is noth­ing like his Brad­man-like Test me­dian (63.75) and without the Aussie cap­tain’s dom­i­nance, in this se­ries — when the big mo­ments ar­rive — it may be Eng­land not the hosts who come out on top.

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