England v Australia
Start time: 10:15 BST
TV: live on Sky Sports 2
Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root and Jonathan Trott return to the England side. The trio missed England's victory over Ireland on Tuesday and should slot straight back in. They are part of a strong England batting line-up after Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara smashed tons against the Irish. Ben Stokes, the Durham all-rounder, is expected to be given the nod at No 8 after he impressed Ashley Giles in Dublin. Still, the hosts may reckon they are a fast bowler light - Morgan, the captain, had to use the part-time spin of Michael Carberry against the Irish. Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn look certain to play while one from Chris Jordan or Chris Overton could debut. It depends on the weather. If it is dry enough spinner James Tredwell will play. England could line-up like this: Carberry, Root, Pietersen, Trott, Morgan, Bopara, Buttler, Stokes, Tredwell/Jordan/Overton, Finn, Rankin
The Aussies flexed their muscles for this one with a 200-run win over Scotland. Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh both made centuries in a record stand. There was no place for Phil Hughes in that match, a surprise perhaps considering he is their top runscorer over the last 12 months. But a 3-4-5-6 of Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, George Bailey and Adam Voges is good enough. Fawad Ahmed, the legbreak bowler, made his debut against the Scots and he could be an interesting selection over the course of the series. The ball may be too wet for him in Leeds but in the matches to come Australia will hope he can bamboozle the middle-oder, as so many spinners have against England sides.
Headingley is rather the forgotten ground of old English cricket venues and it has hosted only nine one-day matches since 2000. Eight have produced results. The fare has not been thrilling, it has to be said. The average first-innings score in that period is 238. Before England posted 321 in 2006 against Sri Lanka in a match they lost in harrowing fashion, no side had scored more than 240. It is the weather which could ruin this one, however. The forecast is dreadful and it could well be that we struggle to get any play at all. It would be a major surprise if we get a full 50-over innings so, for goodness sake, don't bet as if we will.
As discussed in the series preview, Australia have the edge with the ball. In Mitchell Johnson and Clint McKay, they boast experienced, canny bowlers. England have Finn. Rankin impressed on his debut against Ireland with four wickets but ... it was only Ireland. With Jordan and Overton - without a cap between them - the only other pace resources in the squad it looks certain that Australia's batsmen will go big at some stage. That might not be in Leeds, though, because of the weather concerns. Indeed, if they can cram in a game we might see a Twenty20. In a shorter contest the edge is not so sharp. As we have often said, it is far easier to bat well for ten overs to win a T20, than it is for 30 to win a 50-over contest. Australia are 1.845/6 and despite being the slightly better side - well two players anyway - we cannot advise a wager. England are the value in a thrash and bash and splash.
Top England runscorer
Obviously there seems little point backing anyone outside the top four when there may not be enough overs for bowlers to make those kind of in-roads. To that end, there is some real value here, for both teams. Carberry, another new boy, stands out at 5.204/1. As does Root at 5.004/1. That is if he opens as we are guessing he might. Pietersen and Trott are 4.707/2 the pair. KP is infinitely better value. We expect all prices for batsmen in the top four to shorten markedly when folk realise the weather woe. So be quick.
Top Australia runscorer
Finch or Marsh? Marsh or Finch? Both are as destructive as each other in this format. The market favours Finch at 4.804/1. So Marsh it is at 5.204/1. Watson looks a little skinny at 4.507/2.
Back Root for Top England runscorer at 5.004/1
Back Marsh for Top Australia runscorer at 5.204/1