Ed Hawkins says the tourists can fight back if they get the big decisions right in Cardiff on Saturday...
"Were the toss to go in Australia’s favour – and they chase – then we will take a punt on them"
England v Australia
Saturday 16 June 11.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
England captain Eoin Morgan could be forgiven for feeling some trepidation when his team arrive in Cardiff for game two. This is the venue where the Champions Trophy campaign came to a shuddering halt last summer.
A gung-ho batting line-up was unable to adapt to the slow, tacky nature of the wicket against Pakistan and they flopped horribly, managing only 211 and losing by eight wickets. Morgan complained bitterly that it was like playing on the sub-continent.
So this will be a good mark to see how far England have come. Can they adapt? It will surely be a different wicket to the ones at Edinburgh and The Oval.
England are not tuning up at the moment. Their bowling was good in south London, remarkable so in fact for a team which had just conceded 371 against an associate nation. But their batting was wobbly and they struggled in the chase of 215.
We expect England to be unchanged. Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes remain on the recovery trail to appear before the series is out.
Aussies need to make right calls
Australia have a decision to make about their XI, which will surely focus on the state of the wicket. If it is the same sort of track that we saw in the Champions Trophy last summer then Nathan Lyon will come into the reckoning.
Lyon and Agar could well do the sort of job on England that Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim managed. But who Lyon comes in for is tricky.
Michael Neser, after a solid debut, will probably retain his spot because he is considered a bowling all-rounder. So that could leave Billy Stanlake or Kane Richardson vulnerable.
Personally we'd like Lyon and Jhye Richardson in. Perth Scorcher Richardson is a wicket-taker with good pace and is well-used to bowling in tandem with the excellent AJ Tye.
There are, though, concerns about their batting. It has been misfiring for some time, even with Steve Smith and David Warner. Much depends on Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh while Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis and Glen Maxwell are thrashers who fail too often.
Spinners in the mix
Runscoring hasn't been tricky at Sophia Gardens in the Royal London One-Day Cup this summer. But there has been grip for spinners. Colin Ingram's legspinners were useful for Glamorgan and other twirlers were in the wickets. The last five scores in internationals (1/2 denote game won by side batting first or second) read: 211-2/236-2/265-2/310-1/302-2.
If there are two rules at Sophia Gardens they are surely these: make sure you get your spin options right and bat second. There is a significant toss bias in day games in internationals at the venue with 12 wins from 19 for the chaser.
On the one hand this makes England questionable value at [1.59]. But we wouldn't really want to be on Australia at [2.66] considering the bias and England's excellent record as chasers. So we have to advise some patience and wait for the outcome of the flip.
Were it go in Australia's favour - and they chase - then we will take a punt on them. We expect to get [2.5]. There is rain forecast, too. This may also help the side batting second if overs are reduced.
Morgan well suited
Morgan hit a half-century for Middlesex at Sophia Gardens earlier this summer. And he looked in decent touch at The Oval. His 69 was enough for him to land top-bat honours. He is 6/1 with Betfair Sportsbook for a repeat. Given the pitch characteristics he is exactly the type of player we would expect to thrive. The likes of Jason Roy and Alex Hales, who want a fast and true surface, may be best swerved at 7/2 and 4/1 respectively. Having said that Jos Buttler looks big at 10/1.
Marsh on familiar territory
Another player with form on this ground is Shaun Marsh. He has notched a couple of fifties in Championship and one-day action for Glamorgan. It would be a push to say he has mastered it but he should feel confident in the way the ball will behave. Marsh is 7/2. Finch is 10/3 favourite. These two have little to beat.
Ed Hawkins P-L
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