England v Australia 1st ODI International
England may have rested five of their best players, but don’t think for one moment that the ODI series against Australia, which kicks off at Headingley tomorrow, will not be fought for tooth and nail.
A sell-out Yorkshire crowd will expect nothing less than total commitment against the old enemy and that’s what they’ll get, even though fans just familiar with the Ashes team will recognise only the names of Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen – along with their local hero, Joe Root, of course.
Australia, too, will have a much-changed line-up with only Michael Clarke and Shane Watson regulars in the Ashes series. But they have enough talent and firepower in their ranks for Coral to make them 4/5 favourites to win both this opening game and the five-match series (England evens).
The visitors began the summer in poor form and low spirits, but although they lost the Ashes series 3-0, they did enough to convince themselves and others that there is quite a bright light shining at the end of the tunnel. And they will have good reason to believe that they can beat England in this 50-over format to supply another shot of confidence ahead of the return Ashes clash Down Under this winter.
With Watson and Aaron Finch, a sensation in the first T20 match between the sides last week, capable of tearing a bowling attack to shreds when on song, Australia will fancy their chances of beating an England team without the services of their two best seamers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and top spinner, Graeme Swann.
The Aussie top order could get away to a real flyer if England’s second-string attack aren’t careful and Coral’s 4/5 the Baggy Greens outscoring the home team in the first 15 overs makes plenty of appeal, as does the 5/6 they smash the most sixes.
Finch and Watson are 100/30 joint favourites to top score for Australia, while Trott (100/30) just shades Pietersen (7/2) and Root (4/1) at the head of the English batting market.
Also on 4/1 is Michael Carberry, who has waited a long time for his chance in this arena and who will be desperate to do better than he did in Ireland the other day when he flopped with bat, ball and in the field. Perhaps that was down to nerves; the Hampshire opener is a class act and it would be no surprise to see him get some big runs tomorrow.
Written by Jon Freeman