England vs Australia: First ODI Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Jonhenry Wilson previews the first ODI between England and Australia set to take place on Wednesday 13 June at the Oval. 

England are smarting after losing to a Scotland outfit a dozen positions inferior in the International Cricket Council's ODI rankings - and will face a stiff challenge against an Australian unit significantly stronger than the Scots.

The Aussies are commencing life - or the next 10 months, at least - without Steven Smith and David Warner. Their bowling resources are without some key players, as well.

England v Australia | Wednesday, 13 June | Kennington Oval, London | 14:00

To Win Match
England 57/100 
Tie 35/1 
Australia 29/20

Currently ranked the number one ODI team in the world, England came close to ensuring the status quo against Scotland on the weekend, but ultimately fell short - and need to ensure a quick recovery three days later. Each of their top six batsmen enjoyed good starts versus the Scots, but only one - Jonny Bairstow - converted to an innings of substance. This conversion rate needs to change, almost overnight.

Bairstow has banked three consecutive ODI centuries - and will target a fourth in London. He'll probably take up the wicketkeeping duties again, as Sam Billings is returned to the sidelines and Jos Butler comes in. The dual role didn't really hinder him in the Tests against Pakistan - and certainly freed Buttler to make a big impact as a specialist batsman.

Chris Woakes won't play due to injury, with Jake Ball called up as cover. He'll do well to gel alongside fellow seamers Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and David Willey, who were effectively shell-shocked by Scotland's onslaught. Whether or not there is space for Tom Curran in that same attack remains to be seen, while there are two spinners on show in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Australia have been marginally better than England in their last 20 ODIs, winning 12. Only one of those, however, came away from home. The English, meanwhile, will draw inspiration from the fact they've won eight of their last 10 ODIs at Wednesday's venue. Eoin Morgan is the only survivor of their last ODI win over the Aussies at this venue, in 2012, when Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara starred.

Besides the absence of Warner and Smith, the under-strength nature of Australia's bowling attack is rather evident. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood are not there, effectively thrusting Kane Richardson, Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser to the fore. The 2019 Indian Premier League's leading wicket-taker, Andrew Tye certainly has momentum to build on.

This will be new coach Justin Langer's first tour in charge - and he has insisted his charges won't relent their sledging ways. This, in some ways, contradicts new skipper Tim Paine's bid to move on from that sort of culture, so what plays out on the field will be intriguing. The Aussies will be hard pressed to not go hard, verbally, at the old enemy.

Much like England, the Aussies have one eye on the World Cup, so will probably look to experiment with personnel and combinations throughout this series. The first match, though, is not really the time to try too much. One surmises the presence of veteran Nathan Lyon could be a stabalising factor amid the advances. Opportunity, too, knocks for Smith and Warner's replacements - D'Arcy Short and others - to make a name for themselves in the intermediate format.

Marcus Stoinis struck a ton in the warm-up fixture against Sussex, and Travis Head against Middlesex, while Billy Stanlake has all but been tipped for eventual greatness by Ricky Ponting. The pressure is on all three, as their English opposition look to truly test a trio potentially inhibited by big expectation. Stoinis, too, needs to weigh in with the ball like Ben Stokes does for the hosts.

Verdict: England 57/100
Despite that defeat to the Scottish, England are not in the state of flux the Aussies find themselves in. It's this stability that should see them to a vital lead in the five-fixture affair.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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