England September 7, 2013;Now the traditional Headingley washout has been concluded, it is time to move on to the cricket. Four remaining matches in the NatWest series still give two fresh and experimental squads time to show their true flavour. The sense of anticipation remains, although too many of the showers forecast for Manchester on Sunday might put a bit of a damper on proceedings.
England have expectations that Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara can make the sort of impact batting at Nos. 5 and 6 that will carry them through to the 2015 World Cup. Confidence abounds following their hundreds against Ireland in Malahide and a partnership of 226, which was an ODI record for the fifth wicket. S Rajesh, in Numbers Game, has reflected upon England’s commitment since another failed World Cup campaign in 2011 to lifting the strike rate at this stage of the innings.
Australia’s tour of England has so far included a 3-0 Ashes series loss, a Champions Trophy campaign in which they failed to win a match and only two international victories: a Twenty20 game against England and an ODI win over minnows Scotland.
Fifty miles east of Manchester, Yorkshire will be rueing their ill luck. A third washout in five one-day internationals was not the sort of news that Yorkshire need when they are still wrestling with debts not far short of £20m. Profits of half a million from a capacity crowd of 17,250 have been washed away, leaving Yorkshire with no chance to recover the losses made on an under-budget Test against New Zealand in May. One money-saving scheme has been abandoned as Yorkshire have concluded that the floodlights at the defunct Don Valley athletics stadium are unsuitable.
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Watch out for…
Fawad Ahmed has attracted attention in the pre-match build-up because of criticism of Cricket Australia’s willingness to allow him to follow his religious beliefs and not wear a brewers’ logo on his shirt. The discord that has sounded from the wings cannot have eased his integration and he will be eager to do what he does best and remind everybody of his legspin prowess. For England, Ravi Bopara has had a decent summer. He played with a new maturity in the Champions Trophy and that century in Ireland furthered hopes that, at 28, he can yet have a consistently rewarding England career.
Ben Stokes has the capacity to make the grade as a fully fledged allrounder. He batted as low as No. 8 in Ireland but England have resisted the temptation to award a first cap to Chris Jordan, whose bowling suit is a little stronger. Australia are expected to retain the side that gave Scotland a 200-run thumping.
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
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
After one of the warmest summers in northern England for many years, the weather has turned a little grouchy, which considering the 10.15am start could make bowling first a big temptation. The Old Trafford pitch was one of the better ones in the Ashes series, although the pace and bounce that was often apparent a few years ago is no longer as common.
Stats and trivia
England’s last one-day defeat at Old Trafford came in 2006 against Sri Lanka. Since then they have won four in a row, including twice against Australia.
Australia have won five and lost five of their ten ODIs at the ground.
George Bailey needs 112 runs to reach 1000 in one-day internationals; Mitchell Johnson is five wickets short of 200.
Ravi Bopara’s hundred against Ireland took him past Neil Fairbrother, Mike Gatting and Ian Botham on England’s run-scorers list.
“My plan is to be annoying, just tick along at that door and hope one day someone comes along and opens it – and I get my chance.”
Ravi Bopara reveals his masterplan to get into the Ashes Test squad
“He talked up his table tennis, and he’s let himself down a little bit there. That’s probably been a bigger issue for him.”
George Bailey suggests that Fawad Ahmed has more important things on his mind that a debate over shirt logos