Sunday, June 24, 2018
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Ball-tampering bans and injury blows: Do Australia stand a chance against England?

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Ball-tampering bans and injury blows: Do Australia stand a chance against England?
Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer have a huge job on their hands (Picture: Getty)

With the 2019 Cricket World Cup set to start in less than a years time, Englands impressive one-day team have another chance to justify their favouritism for the tournament with a five-match series against Australia.

Under the guidance of Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan, England have made huge strides in limited-overs cricket since the disastrous 2015 World Cup, where they were knocked out at the group stage.

They have won nine of their last 11 one-day series, most recently beating Australia and New Zealand after the Test team lost the Ashes.

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And it could be a familiar story this month as England face the Aussies in five ODIs in London, Cardiff, Nottingham, Durham and Manchester.

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England are a settled team in superb form, putting their shock defeat to Scotland in Edinburgh to one side. Australia, on the other hand, have travelled without five of their biggest stars.

Steve Smith and David Warner are into the first two months of their 12-month bans for ball-tampering, while pace bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood – so influential during the Ashes triumph – are out with injuries.

KEY PLAYERS

Jos Buttler

One of the most entertaining players in one-day cricket showed his versatility last month when he scored back-to-back Test fifties after being recalled to the England team for the two-match series against Pakistan.

The 27-year-old could be a perfect fit at number seven in the Test side but does not look more at home than when he is teeing off against the white ball.

Buttler enjoyed a stunning return at the 2018 Indian Premier League, scoring a record-equalling five consecutive fifties for Rajasthan Royals, and can tuck into an Australia attack that looks short of potency without Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood.

Rajasthan Royals Jos Buttler, celebrates after his team won their match against the Mumbai Indians at the VIVO IPL cricket T20 match against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai, India, Sunday, May 13, 2018 . (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Jos Buttler was one of the stars of the 2018 IPL (Picture: AP)

Aaron Finch

With Warner unlikely to play for Australia ever again after instigating the ball-tampering scandal that erupted in South Africa earlier in the year, even greater pressure has been placed on fellow opener Finch.

Unlike Buttler, the 31-year-old struggled to assert himself at the IPL for Kings XI Punjab, scoring just 134 runs in nine innings at an average of 17.

But he remains a class act and his ODI record – 3,200 runs at 38 apiece – suggests he can make up for lost time in England over the following month. He is sure to test an England side that will be without Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes for the first part of the series.

Ball-tampering bans and injury blows: Do Australia stand a chance against England?
Aaron Finch is a destructive and consistent opener (Picture: Getty)

Liam Plunkett

Yorkshires strapping fast bowler is finally getting the recognition his performances deserve after being overlooked and undervalued for many years.

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On the back of his first IPL – he was picked up at the auction by Delhi Daredevils – Plunkett will return to the England team full of confidence and can make up for the absence of Stokes and Woakes, who are both struggling with muscular injuries.

Despite often bowling in the powerplays, Plunketts economy rate against Australia is less than six. He is also more than capable with the bat and memorably hit a six off the final ball to tie a ODI against Sri Lanka in 2016.

Ball-tampering bans and injury blows: Do Australia stand a chance against England?
Liam Plunkett rarely lets England down (Picture: Getty)

Andrew Tye

Losing your stand-out bowler is a blow, to lose all three is catastrophic. But thats the situation that faces Australia this month.

If the tourists have any hope of causing an upset against England, the favourites for the 2019 World Cup, then they will be reliant on a productive series for AJ Tye.

Placing such pressure on a 31-year-old with just four one-day international appearances behind him may seem desperate but Tye is a cricketer in the form of his life.

Impressing over the winter in Australias Big Bash League, Tye was offered his first IPL contract earlier in the year and was the tournaments leading wicket-taker with 24 scalps in 14 matches.

Ball-tampering bans and injury blows: Do Australia stand a chance against England?
AJ Tye made the most of his chance at the IPL (Picture: Getty)

WHATS BEEN SAID?

Australia captain Tim Paine

The thing we have spoken about is the difference between abuse and banter. I am sure you are going to hear us talking through the stump mic.

There is no doubt our reputation took a bit of a battering. That was difficult for the players to come to terms with.

England skipper Eoin Morgan

We have to continue to learn as we go along. Twelve months is a very long time in the game, and things can change, particularly as younger teams come in and develop.

We saw that with Pakistan in last years Champions Trophy. So its important for us to keep driving things forward.

Ball-tampering bans and injury blows: Do Australia stand a chance against England?
England suffered a shock defeat to Scotland on Sunday (Picture: Getty)

Australia head coach Justin Langer

We have to make sure our behaviour is good on and off the field, that there is an environment for our good young blokes to thrive and become as good as players and people as they can.

There is a difference between banter and abuse. Abuse is no good – there is no room for it anywhere.

But there is plenty of room for banter or what we call sledging. Its part of the game, a fun part of the game.

Former England international James Taylor

England are the most entertaining team in the world to watch, for me.

Theyve got some incredibly skilled batsmen that are gaining experience all the time.

Its their format at the minute – they are very dominant around the world and I expect them to be dominant in this series.

LIKELY TEAMS

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England (without injured Stokes and Woakes): Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Tom Curran, David Willey

Australia: Aaron Finch, DArcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c&wk), Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson

England v Australia odds

England 2/7

Australia 9/4

PREDICTION

Defeating this England team would be a tough ask for a side with all of its star players available, so it would be hugely surprising if Australia won their first series since the ball-tampering scandal without the help of Smith, Warner, Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood.

Australias best hope is that England are unable to find their most devastating form in a first ODI series in over three months, as happened on Sunday as they were beaten by the Scots. But that appears unlikely.

The home side possess a quality team and most players are in fine nick. For England, this series can act as another reminder of their ability ahead of the 2019 World Cup.

Prediction: 4-1

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