England Need to Regroup and Show Fight in ODI Series
Out of the frying pan and into the fire. That’s what it could feel like for England whose wounds are still open from the Ashes mauling, but will have to shift their focus to the ODI series with Australia.
England were thrashed 4-0 in the Ashes and the result of the five-Test series was a fair reflection of the dominance Australia had over the tourists.
It’s a new discipline and new faces added to some who were present for the Tests, but the rankings suggest a similar outcome. Australia are ranked third in both Tests and ODIs, while England are fifth in the Test rankings and fourth in the ODIs.
The hope for England is that ODI skipper Eoin Morgan can rally the troops and get them to play the blend of attacking cricket that saw them secure series wins over South Africa and West Indies last summer and also reach the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.
But like the Test team, the ODI XI will have to take on Australia without Ben Stokes. He was sorely missed in the Ashes and judged on the form he showed during the summer, when he was inspirational in the 50-over format, he will leave a massive void.
But England have to go in without Stokes, and Morgan has enough attacking players to call on to test Australia to the full – with Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow certain to take the game to the hosts at the top of the order. And while Australia are higher than England in the ODI rankings, their play in the 50-over format has not been as assured as their Test displays.
They won only five of their 15 ODIs in 2017 and were winless in the Champions Trophy, albeit two of their three games were rained off.
But for all their problems of last year, Australia are on home soil – they’ve not lost an ODI series at home since 2010 – and will be extremely high on confidence after their Test successes.
The outcome of the five-game ODI series, which gets underway at the MCG on Sunday, is likely to be far closer than the Tests and far more fiercely fought.
England have been on a steady upward curve since they were ignominiously knocked out of the Cricket World Cup at the group stage three years ago. And with Australia looking to right the wrongs of 2017, not much will be between the two.
With that in mind, we’ll go with Australia to edge it 3-2.