Ed Hawkins previews the first ODI of a five game series between Australia and England which takes place in Melbourne early on Sunday and expects a stronger showing from the tourists than the Test series
"England are pretty good at this format and they always give the home team a run for their money on the road once they got their house in order following the disastrous World Cup performance"
Australia v England
Sunday 14 January 03.20
TV: live on BT Sport
Australia have won only one of their last eight ODI so perhaps in a bid to freshen things up or, like playing pin the tail on the donkey, they have made some left-field selections. Cameron White and Tim Paine are included in the squad in another redux.
Such ploys worked for them in the Ashes so who are we to argue? And besides, it will still be their core performers like Steve Smith, David Warner and that pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood who will be expected to win them games. Well, when the latter trio play. Hazlewood is rested for the first match and Cummins the second while Starc is almost certain to be given time off.
AJ Tye, who has been so impressive for Perth Scorchers down the years, is likely to be given an opportunity to put pressure on the more senior players.
White is expected to stabilise a middle-order which has gone missing over the last year or so. He has taken Chris Lynn's place after the Brisbane Heat basher picked up another injury. Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis will be looking to bring their Big Bash expertise to bear.
Stop press. For only the second time since the tour began in November, England have won a game. They beat a Cricket Australia XI in a 50-over warm-up game. Pretty comfortably, too, with a chase of 259 costing them only five wickets.
Perhaps more significant was the return to form of Moeen Ali. He is as important to them in this format as Tests so his two wickets for 28 runs was a major fillip. He only managed one with the bat, though.
Still, it was a reminder that England's ODI unit should not be tarred with the same brush the Test team. Eoin Morgan is a settled skipper, their batting is aggressive and deep while they have good variations with, guess what, outright pace in the form of Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett if they fancy. They even have a spinner. Adil Rashid is potent in this format.
Joe Root has been declared fit to play and he could well find that the release of pressure allows him to return to his best form.
Here are the last 13 first-innings scores at the MCG (most recent first): 220-264-295-183-302-332-307-342-267-267-269-274-305. As you can see it is a pretty decent batting wicket. The one exception is the 183 scored by New Zealand in the World Cup final. Australia also had some troubles against Pakistan last year with that 220, costing them the game.
Australia are [1.6] and England [2.62]. It should be no surprise that England are the gamble for this one.
We feel they are being unfairly punished price-wise for the struggles of the Test team. They are two totally different units. This crew are pretty good at this format and they always give the home team a run for their money on the road once they got their house in order following the disastrous World CUp performance.
In one sense this series will be a decent marker for how far they have come since that campaign - playing the eventual winners on their home soil. Australia made them look like chumps.
England have flaws, for sure. They can be too agressive with the bat and they leak runs in the field. But they're brave and Australia, when resting key men, may find they take them lightly.
There is also the significant trend for Ashes winners to struggle in the ODI that follow. Read more here.
Top Australia runscorer
Smith top scored for Australia on their last vist to the 'G against Pakistan. Before that Warner smashed 156 against New Zealand. Prior to that innings he had a poor record at the ground. Smith is 11/4 with Sportsbook for honours and Warner 13/5. Warner is the top runscorer in the last 12 months with 691, Smith is No 3 with 449. Head is the sandwich. He is 9/2.
Top England runscorer
Root is England's top runscorer in the last 12 months but he is unlikely to prove popular. Although he was five runs from top scoring in the Ashes for England, he had little to beat. The same cannot be true here. Morgan, for example, is not far behind on those run lists. Root is 13/5 and Morgan 5/1. Jonny Bairstow opened the batting in the warm-up and catches the eye at 7/2.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back England at [2.62] (2pts)