Ed Hawkins previews the first of three 50-overs contests between the fierce rivals, starting in Manchester on Friday...
"England are a better team than Australia in performance and attitude. With the series likely to be decided by hitting – England have an average strike rate of 144 in the last three years and Australia 133"
England v Australia
Friday 11 September 13:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Roy and Morgan fit
England have good news on the injury front. Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan their talisman and skipper, are both fit to return. Roy missed England's T20 series against Pakistan while Morgan sat out England's third and final T20 defeat by Australia.
With Ben Stokes absent, England could ill-afford to be without those two. Anyone who recalls how England lost their way in last summer's World Cup without Roy will know how important he is.
Jos Buttler is also set to return after a family break. Where he bats will be interesting. Does he take on a more pivotal role at No 4 or will he be sandwiched between Morgan and Moeen Ali at No 5?
Possible XI Bairstow, Roy, Root, Morgan, Buttler, Moeen, Woakes, Rashid, S Curran, Archer, Wood
Have to cut loose
Australia's possible XI looks powerful doesn't it? Fast starters at the top, middle-order nous, potential for late hitting and gun pacers.
But the Aussies flatter to deceive. They have yet to learn to take the handbreak off with their batting. Until they realise full-out attack is the modern way they will come up short. It was true of their World Cup campaign last season. The monstrous scores are beyond them.
Glenn Maxwell is their most important player but they are unsure how to get the best out of him. He and Marnus Labuschagne could have floating roles in the batting order. Mitchell Marsh was man of the match in Australia's last ODI match - a win against New Zealand. Australia had plodded along at a shade over five an over before their bowlers got them out of jail.
Possible XI Warner, Finch, Smith, Labuschagne, Maxwell, Marsh, Carey, Agar, Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood.
Head-to-heads in England
- Eng 226-2 (Roy 85) chased Aus 223 (Smith 85, Woakes 3-20)
- Aus 285-7 (Finch 100, Woakes 2-46) defended Eng 221 (Stokes 89, Starc 4-43)
- Eng 208-9 (Buttler 110*, K Richardson 3-51) chased Aus 205 (Moeen 4-46)
- Eng 314-4 (Roy 110, Agar 2-48) chased Aus 310-8 (S Marsh 101, Finch 100)
- Eng 481-6 (Hales 147) defended Aus 239 (Rashid 4-47)
- Eng 342-8 (Roy 120) defended Aus 304 (S Marsh 131)
Overall (all conditions) last 3 years - Eng 10 Aus 2
There were six games at Old Trafford in last year's World Cup. The first-innings scores read: 239-1/325-1/268-1/291-1/397-1/336-1. As you can see it was a bat-first wicket. New Zeland memorably squeezed out India in the semi-final, defending 239. There was seam and swing on an overcast morning (the match went into a second day) and the surface had lost its zip. However, before we get carried away with a bat-first strategy it is worth noting that seven of 11 day-nighters in Manchester have been won by the chaser.
In the World Cup, both of the two matches were, of course, won by the side batting first - but they were close. Australia made 315 in pursuit of South Africa's 325 and West Indies 286 going after New Zealand's 291.
England are [1.87] with Australia [2.12]. Last summer in the World Cup semi-final England were hovering around the [1.70] mark. So, what's changed?
Despite proving themselves superior to Australia in that semi and in T20 in the last few days, the biggest factor has to be the absence of Stokes. Otherwise it would appear punters have short memories.
England are a better team than Australia in performance and attitude. With the series likely to be decided by hitting - England have an average strike rate of 144 in the last three years and Australia 133 - there are few areas where the tourists are equal. Until we see evidence that Australia are prepared to cut loose, we need better odds against a proven force.
The toss will be key because of Australia foibles. In the last three years they have chased only five times out of 14 from home. No rain is forecast.
Seven of Aaron Finch's 16 career hundreds have come against England so it is a surprise he's not top Aussie bat favourite with Sportsbook. He is 3/1 with David Warner at the head of affairs at 11/4.
For England, Joe Root returns with a 3/1 quote but regular readers will know that's a terrible price. Roy is 7/2 and Morgan 11/2.
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Back England bat 1st [1.87] (3pts)