England vs Australia: A Bullish Preview

21 06 2010

An unsually placed, but entirely fascinating, contest gets underway in Southampton later today, with the first of five one day internationals between England and Australia being played. Unusual in that this must be about the first time in cricket history England and Australia have played a stand alone series of one day games without the main course of a test series to follow. Fascinating in that, during a Summer in which so far we have had only the rather bland offerings of Bangladesh to savour, Australia represent a genuine test and will provide some early and probably largely irrelevant pointers to the Ashes series at the end of this year.

England have come off a 12 month period of success comparable to most in their history although there is the rather inconvenient blip of a 6-1 home thrashing in the one day games last September. It is unlikely we feel that the contest will be so one sided this time however as you get the feeling that Andy Flowers men have finally found a winning formula.

The English middle order is their main strength, KP, Collingwood and Morgan providing genuine class. Strauss will be looking to cement his place which (in our opinion) was unnecessarily called into question. Kieswetter has to show that he is more than a blast or block merchant – he has shown an inability to knock the ball around for singles with a high proportion of balls faced being dot balls. This is though a little bit of hyper critical criticism however as his strike rate is still highly respectable.

For Australia Doug Bollinger returns and, in our opinion, not before time. After seeing his performances in the IPL we were astonished to see Australia go into the 20/20 world cup without him and we rate him very highly indeed. We feel that, on balance, the English bowling attack probably has the edge on Australia’s but, whilst they may not be McGrath’s and Warne’s, the Aussie attack should not be underrated. Shane Watson will likely be key in all disciplines as he has turned into a pretty awesome performer at international level, with his bowling in the shorter forms of the game being more than useful.

In summary, we would expect England to take the series 3-2 as, for once, the levels of talent are tipped in favour of England. Being Australia they will never give up however and could easily sneak a series win of there own.

************

We mentioned above that the talent levels man for man are probably in favour of England in this series. With that in mind we thought we would test our hypothesis with a comparison of the two teams we suspect may be picked today:

Andrew Strauss vs Shane Watson
Strauss will feel that he has a great deal to prove in this format and as captain and we are backing him to respond in style. Watson is now one of the key figures for Australia and with his bowling is a key player. With Strauss as captain of England this extra influence is  negated and so we have decided on a draw.

Tim Paine vs Craig Kieswetter
The battle of the two keepers. Both aggressive opening batsmen and both with the responsibility of the gloves, these two are remarkably similar in their achievements so far. Kieswetter is probably the better batsman but Paine the better keeper.All things considered though we are going for a Kieswetter win

Ricky Ponting vs Kevin Pietersen
Two marquee batsman, one probably at the peak of his powers, the other a veteran, slowly on the decline. Ponting has not scored the volume of runs expected of him recently so this could either be the beginning of the end, or simply a time bomb waiting to explode on someone. Pietersen win.

Paul Collingwood vs Michael Clarke
Whilst Collingwoods value to England cannot be underestimated in this form of cricket, Clarke has shown himself to be one of the foremost players in this format in world cricket. Troubles aplenty during the 20/20 world cup, expect Clarke to come out all guns firing and be the main player for Australia during this series. Clarke win.

Eoin Morgan vs Michael Hussey
Difficult this one. Both are exceptional finishers and proven big hitters. Morgan is still at the start of his career whereas ‘Mr. Cricket’ is in the twilight of his. Despite thinking long and hard on this we can’t separate them and have gone for a draw.

Luke Wright vs Cameron White
Wright is the eager puppy dog of the England team who occasionally comes off. White is the clinical destroyer of tired bowling late in the innings and so for us this is no contest. Neither bowl much so this is a clear White win.

Tim Bresnan vs James Hopes
Bresnan is the better bowler and Hopes the better batsman. Both are solid players in this format who are unlikely to set the place alight but can be relied on to produce a 1-35 from 8 overs and a quick fire 20 or 30. Hopes to tell the truth is probably more than capable of scoring a 60 odd with the bat and for this reason we have gone for a Hopes win.

Graeme Swann vs Nathan Hauritz
To give Hauritz credit, he has improved dramatically over the past 18 months. Yet so has Swann and in our eyes there is not a finer spin bowler currently playing the game. Swann win.

Stuart Broad vs Ryan Harris
Harris is Australia’s Ryan Sidebottom. Solid, dependable but unlikely to run through you unless its swinging yet saying that he should not be underestimated. Broad is ever improving and if he can ensure his emotions don’t get the better of him he should have the better of this personal battle. Broad win.

Ajmal Shahzad vs Clint McKay
Two young players with a great deal to prove although Mckay has enjoyed a brilliant start to his ODI career. Shahzad has it all to do so therefore we are going for a Mckay win.

James Anderson vs Doug Bollinger
Two excellent performers and whilst we feel Bollinger has the potential to be very threatening, we do not believe there is much to choose between these two but have under pressure plumped for an Anderson win.

It is unlikely that we have picked the exact team that Australia will play as Steve Smith for one stands a very good chance of playing. Yet you get the idea – gone are the days when an Australian captain could be asked ‘which England players would get in your team?’ and reply justifiably ‘None – or possibly Goughie as 12th man…’

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