England September 10, 2013;They say you learn more from your mistakes than your successes and, if so, there should be a fair amount of wisdom to be gleaned from the scribbles in Ashley Giles’ notebook after the weekend. Eoin Morgan, England’s stand-in captain, won the toss and Steven Finn bowled a wicket maiden but little went right from then on, as Australia took a 1-0 lead in the series and Michael Clarke collected twin laurels, with his first ODI hundred against England and his first victory on tour.
England have rolled out a half-and-half squad for these fixtures, so it should not be a surprise if the product is a little half-baked. The likes of Michael Carberry and Ben Stokes deserve a few goes in the kitchen to properly evaluate whether they can handle the heat and, while there were obvious deficiencies in the performance at Old Trafford, a couple of the ingredients came off well – Boyd Rankin has seamlessly transferred the promise of his Ireland career to England colours and Jos Buttler was able to showcase his exotic skills over a longer innings.
While England fiddle, Australia have capitalised, the confidence that slowly coalesced around the second half of their Ashes campaign becoming firmer by the game. Despite a disappointing Champions Trophy, one-day cricket is probably Australia’s strongest suit and they are focused on fine-tuning their best XI. That the explosive opening partnership of Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch was quickly defused, and Fawad Ahmed struggled to influence the game, only suggests that they can perform better still.
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Mitchell Johnson has described how alien it felt to watch the summer’s Ashes skirmishes from his couch in Australia and knows that a fire-breathing performance in the one-day series can help get him back into Test contention. With Mitchell Starc the latest of Australia’s cadre of young pacemen to pull up lame, the chances of a return to Mitch 1.0 during the return series have increased. Johnson may not have some of the natty upgrades of the new generation but, despite the clanking action and occasional processing glitches, operating speeds of 90mph never go out of fashion.
Morgan and Giles have argued against suggestions that the selection was wrong at Old Trafford but the make-up of England’s attack will be under extra scrutiny. Their strategy in the 18 months leading up to the Champions Trophy was to play five genuine bowlers, with the possibility of a Ravi Bopara or Joe Root providing a few overs, but an experimental squad for this series has led to them tinkering with the formula, playing Durham allrounder Stokes as the third seamer and No. 8 batsman. On the evidence of the bowling displays against Ireland and Australia, it hasn’t worked.
England seem firm in their convictions about the balance of the side but they do have other options. Jamie Overton is the bolter that most England watchers want to see but that would lengthen the tail; perhaps the most appealing compromise would be to give Root a rest and bring in the Sussex quick Chris Jordan, who is also a capable batsman, for a first senior cap.
England (possible) 1 Michael Carberry, 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ravi Bopara, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ben Stokes, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 Steven Finn
After a tumultuous couple of months, we are now beginning to see Darren Lehmann’s Australia masterplan come together. This is the first squad Lehmann has picked himself and George Bailey has praised the atmosphere in the group. Winning helps and a settled side could stay unchanged for a third outing.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 George Bailey, 6 Adam Voges, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Fawad Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
It was at Edgbaston during the Champions Trophy that England’s summer of turners began. India’s spinners found the pitches to be a home from home during their triumphant campaign and despite the arrival of some autumnal weather, a slow, dry surface conducive to spin seems likely. A forecast for rain in the evening won’t be to anyone’s liking, however.
Stats and trivia
As well as a wet no result against New Zealand during the Champions Trophy, Australia suffered a washout and an abandonment on their previous two visits to Birmingham in 2012 and 2005.
England’s win over Australia at Edgbaston at the 2004 Champions Trophy ended a run of 14 consecutive ODI defeats dating back to 1999.
Australia’s one-day record of nine wins and four defeats in 2013 (win percentage of 69.23%) is second only to India’s.
George Bailey is 30 runs short of 1000 in ODIs.
“When you’ve got inexperience, you’re going to have to suffer some pain occasionally to get some gain.”
Ashley Giles defends England’s selection policy
“We’ve played some good cricket for the last couple of months, and it’s our time now to really put our foot on the throat and win these last few games.”
James Faulkner is keen that Australia ram home their advantage in the series