England looking to bounce back in first Twenty20 bash
England have been humiliated in the Ashes and embarrassed in the ODI series, but all that’s behind them now as they strive to get back the winning habit in the first of three Twenty20 matches at Hobart on Wednesday morning.
The scars inflicted by Australia this winter will take a long time to heal, but we now move on to a different type of cricket altogether with the short-form specialists returning to the fray and eager to take some measure of revenge.
Coral bet 5/4 England (8/13 Australia) and that looks a decent price looking at the two likely line-ups, especially now that all-rounder James Faulkner, the man who broke the tourists’ hearts with his match-winning quick-fire 69 in the 2nd ODI at Brisbane, is ruled out with a knee injury.
England will play pretty much the side they picked against Australia in the two Twenty20 matches in England last summer and though the series was drawn 1-1, they did seem to have the makings of a really strong unit.
Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Luke Wright and Eoin Morgan all have Twenty20 strike rates of more than 130, while there’s also the firepower provided lower down the order by the incredible Jos Buttler (149), not to mention England’s new ‘find’ Ben Stokes.
Even Joe Root, so laborious at times in the Test series, can turn it on when he wants to, as he showed with his 90 not out from 49 balls on his Twenty20 debut at the Rose Bowl.
That, however, was a match in which even that impressive knock was put firmly in the shade by Aaron Finch’s astonishing 156 off 63 balls (including 14 sixes). Finch, 5/2 to top score for Australia, has a mind-boggling strike rate of over 178 at an average of more than 52 and if England can dismiss him cheaply in Tasmania they will be half way to getting a result.
As for the England bowlers, Jade Dernbach has had his critics, but Twenty20 brings out the best in him; a combined return of 5-57 in the two games last summer tells its own story – Coral go 7/2 he takes most wickets for the visitors.
Australia are resting David Warner, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson ahead of their Test tour to South Africa, but Chris Lynn, a hard-hitting 23-year-old from Queensland (with a strike rate of 136 plus) has impressed the selectors and is 5/1 to top score on his debut.
A more surprising new pick is 20-year-old leg spinner James Muirhead, who has hardly played any Twenty20 cricket, but who is one of several slow bowlers being considered for the World Cup in Bangladesh in the spring.
Coral make India 4/1 favourites to win that competition with Australia 9/2 and England 8/1.