Since 1882, England and Australia have been fighting it out for supremacy on the field and by now, this rivalry has reached epic proportions. What started with the Ashes series, has now become one of the most anticipated clashes in cricket history, be it any format. Aussies are currently in UK and with the Natwest ODI series starting on the 29th of June, there has been just as much hype. Though the shorter format might not please many who have seen the two nations bring out blood, sweat and tears in the test series, it promises to be just as exhilarating.
England have won a record six cricket series at home now, with the most recent coming thanks to the West Indies. Their form has never looked this dominating, and who better to test them than the ICC’s #1 ranked ODI team of the world? Australia are in England with two main aims. The first one is to leave a mark on their hosts and pick up a series win, and two, to get in young players who can earn valuable experience on English soil and come back stronger for the Ashes series next year.
Almost all the big names of both the teams have spoken about the series and it’s been sort of a psychological battle as well. England’s current run of form and got them steamrolling through competition, while Australia’s “burning desire” (as spoken by Shane Watson) to get back at them after two consecutive Ashes series losses will just push them on. Both the teams have shown confidence as well and both the captains have said that it’ll be a tough fight, but Aussie captain Michael Clarke was as cool as a cucumber when he said his team would definitely prevail. This might also be a mind game, because reports have already been making rounds that England had sent their videographer to record Australia’s new bowlers’ actions.
Playing ElevensFor the opening game, both teams are in a dilemma. Australia can’t decide who will open the batting but are confident because they have a strong and flexible top order. Kevin Pietersen’s retirement from short formats of the game has hit England hard, with them struggling to find a good replacement for some time. But when Ian Bell stepped up, England breathed a sigh of relief. Bell has shown tremendous resilience since getting onto the team and his team couldn’t have been happier. Former Australian great Shane Warne also spoke about Pietersen and how his absence would affect the entire English team, but they’ll do alright. For now.
England (likely) : Ian Bell, Alastair Cook (c), Jonathan Trott, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Steven Finn.
Australia (likely) : Shane Watson, David Warner, George Bailey, Michael Clarke (c), David Hussey, Steven Smith, Mathew Wade (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty.
England will have a slight upper hand as it’s their home ground, but Australia’s secret weapon will be quite a test. The new inexperienced (on English soil) bowlers that Australia have brought with them have proved themselves enough to be on the eleven, the point being that England also have never faced them. Pat Cummins and James Pattinson can definitely put up a show if they’re in their element, but let’s not forget England’s bowlers as well, who will know exactly how to bowl on England’s relatively softer pitches.
Summing it up, there’s no doubt that this highly anticipated series will be an explosive one and the first match on Friday will definitely put its winners in the driver’s seat. But with reports of passing showers, everyone will be on high alert.