England September 5, 2013:With the Ashes out of the way, the stage is set for England and Australia to go toe-to-toe in a five-match ODI series. Can you feel the electricity crackling through the air? In truth, this is the rump of Australia’s tour in every sense, though it may serve up one or two tasty mouthfuls: another Aaron Finch special; a debut for 19-year-old Jamie Overton.
The Australia squad has been refreshed by new faces, though there is no opportunity for Michael Clarke to rest. More than three months after Clarke got on the plane from Sydney for the Champions Trophy, only to be stricken by a back injury and not play in the tournament, he is still going, afforded just a brief respite during last week’s Twenty20s. Of the Test squad, Shane Watson, Matthew Wade and James Faulkner remain, but they will be up against a very different England.
There has been some muttering – in particular from the former England captain, Michael Vaughan – about the shadow nature of England’s 14-man ODI squad. Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root have returned after missing the trip to Dublin, while Jos Buttler, Ravi Bopara, Steven Finn and the captain, Eoin Morgan, would all be considered first choice in this form of the game, but for some the absence of five other regulars will devalue the contest irredeemably.
Those fans who haven’t reduced their tickets to ashes in disgust will get a glimpse of the future, however, starting at Headingley. Ben Stokes, Boyd Rankin and Overton could all be part of England’s 2015 World Cup squad, while Michael Carberry has the chance to prove that slow and steady at the top of the order need not always be the default option.
Although the Ashes-winning country has lost the subsequent one-day series on the last three occasions, England have had the better of recent ODI exchanges and won the last two bilateral series against Australia in home conditions. Their 4-0 victory last summer, when Australia failed to take more than five wickets in an innings at any point, might suggest the England selectors just wanted to make a game of things this time.
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Watch out for…
Although he was England’s second-highest run-scorer during the Ashes, Kevin Pietersen had one of his more restrained series. He missed the Champions Trophy with knee trouble and could be restored to the ODI team as an opener, in the absence of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell – though quite how it would suit England’s long-term planning to bat him there is another matter. His 36-ball fifty lit up the final day at The Oval, even as the gloom descended, and Pietersen should be in the mood to express himself again after squeezing in a family holiday.
The tale of Fawad Ahmed and a possible Ashes call-up wended its way through the summer without ever quite coming to pass but since a nervy debut in the Twenty20 series, he has quietly made a good impression. He showed at Chester-le-Street he can turn the ball appreciably and that may be enough to unnerve English batsmen perennially transfixed by the prospect of facing legspin. Landing a few more psychological blows on a good length should bring him into contention for the Tests in Australia.
Morgan was not giving away any clues to the make-up of England’s XI but it seems likely that the middle order which nearly took England all the way in the Champions Trophy will remain unchanged. England looked a specialist bowler light against Ireland but Ashley Giles has spoken in praise of Ben Stokes as the third seamer. Chris Jordan and Overton are possible debutants if they decide to change the balance of the side.
England (possible) 1 Michael Carberry, 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Ben Stokes, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 Steven Finn
Having set a new record for Australia’s opening stand in ODIs against Scotland, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh should get the chance to extend their union, meaning there will be no return for Phillip Hughes. This looks Australia’s most balanced side, though Glenn Maxwell could offer a boom-boom-or-bust option in the middle order.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 George Bailey, 6 Adam Voges, 7 Matthew Wade, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Fawad Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
As always, those at Headingley should look up rather than down. Atmospheric conditions will be more important than the pitch in dictating selection and tactics – although a bleak forecast means that sadly rain may have the greatest effect on the result.
Stats and trivia
England’s last completed one-day fixture at Headingley saw Mahela Jayawardene score 144 in a 69-run win for Sri Lanka in 2011.
The last time Australia beat England in an ODI in Leeds was 1981.
Australia won the last two post-Ashes ODI series by a 6-1 margin.
Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara combined for the highest fifth-wicket partnership in ODIs against Ireland on Tuesday, while against Scotland, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh put on the sixth-highest opening stand in one-day history.
“With debuts you are on a hiding to nothing most of the time. More often than not they do not go right for you. Carbs is a very experienced cricketer. He will pick himself up, re-evaluate where he is at and we will encourage him to play with the freedom he does at Hampshire.”
Eoin Morgan backs Michael Carberry to make a better impression second time out