England v Australia - 1st ODI preview
After the soggy state of affairs at Old Trafford, England and Australia do battle again this Friday at the start of a seven-match ODI Series.
The first game is scheduled at The Oval although once again the long range weather forecast suggests that we might have difficulty in completing the game.
England are priced 11/8 for this game which does look good value considering the hosts are without Ricky Ponting and today announced that coach Tim Nielsen will go back to Australia for family reasons midway through the series.
With the ICC Champions Trophy on the horizon in South Africa later on in the month, there are reasons for thinking that both teams could tinker with their line-ups during the course of the series.
The series I believe, will rely on England’s bowlers ability to restrict the flow of runs, Stuart Broad excelled in the last two Test matches and has more opportunity to prove to the selectors he will eventually fill the balancing role Andrew Flintoff has filled for the team.
James Anderson although not at his best at the end of the series is a reliable new ball bowler and Ryan Sidebottom will hope to push his credentials with accurate swing bowling.
Adil Rashid is an exciting spinning option to back up Graeme Swann as well and I hope he’s given the chance in the series to show what he can do.
Australia though will welcome back Brett Lee to share the new ball with Mitchell Johnson, with back up from Peter Siddle, the Aussie attack looks very strong.
Batting though they will rely a lot on the two Michaels…messrs Clarke and Hussey as the backbone of the line-up.
David Warner is an exciting prospect but England must feel like Phil Hughes beforehand that he can be got out with good plans.
As for the match, Australia will start as deserved favourites, however their Oval hoodoo is something they will have to get over, after two Ashes defeats in recent times, plus a humiliating defeat in the ICC World Twenty20 against the West Indies.
With rain forecast its probably best to concentrate on the top order batsman for top bats. I certainly like the look of Andrew Strauss (3/1) for England and Shane Watson (7/2) for Australia, these are my picks.