Australia v England: 1st Twenty20, Wednesday 12/1 –7.05am (Local Time) at Adelaide Oval
RECENT T20 FORM:
Both teams performed extremely well during the ICC World Twenty20 Championships back in May last year. Australia won every game during the group and super eight stages but weren’t able to beat England in the final, losing by seven wickets.
The Aussies have been bitterly disappointing since that tournament, losing a two-match series against Pakistan last July and a one-off match against Sri Lanka in October. England also played a two-match series against Pakistan after the Twenty20 championship but won both games convincingly.
According to the current ICC world rankings, the Poms are the world’s best Twenty20 team while the Aussies sit in sixth position.
Ever since he was named captain of Victoria at the tender age of 20, Cameron White has been touted as a future leader of Australian cricket. Now the blonde bombshell has the perfect opportunity to live up to that weighty expectation after he was named permanent captain of the Australian Twenty20 side due to the unexpected retirement of Michael Clarke. Since becoming a stable member of the national One Day and Twenty20 team, White has quickly carved up a reputation as one of Australia’s most aggressive and damaging batsman. The 27-year-old averages just under 37 from 23 international Twenty20 matches and has scored two centuries at domestic level. White will have to be at his best both with the bat and in the field if he wants to make a good first impression on the selectors as captain.
Eoin Morgan missed out on playing in the Ashes but now has a golden chance to show Australian cricket fans just how much of a unique player he is. The Irish–born batsman has been a revelation in the shorter forms of the game since crossing over from Ireland to play for England, particularly in the Twenty20 format. Morgan averages an impressive 52 from only 14 matches, including three scores of 50 plus. His inventive and audacious stroke play is reminiscent of Kevin Pietersen when he arrived on the English cricket scene back in 2005. The 24-year-old is difficult to bowl to and if he gets past 20 on the relatively flat Adelaide pitch, England are already halfway to winning the match.
PITCH AND CONDITIONS:
The weather forecast for Adelaide on Wednesday doesn’t look bright for cricket fans wishing to see a full 40-over match. After reaching a maximum of 30 degrees during the day, a cool change is expected to bring a shower or two and a possible thunderstorm later in the afternoon. Let’s hope not many overs are lost because this game should be a beauty.
The Adelaide Oval wicket is traditionally a batsmen-friendly pitch due to the lack of grass and close to no moisture underneath the surface. Therefore batsmen always get full value for their shots if they find the middle of the bat, particularly square of the wicket with the short boundaries. The captain who wins the toss must bat first and force the opposition team to chase a large total under lights.
Shane Watson, Steve Smith and Mitchell Johnson are the only three players who played in the Ashes series that will play in the two Twenty20 matches. With White replacing Clarke as Twenty20 captain, Tim Paine will slot straight into the vice-captain role ahead of first choice wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Victorian batsman Aaron Finch has been sensational with the bat over the last two years in the domestic Big Bash competition and has earned a well deserved call-up into the national side. But perhaps the biggest selection surprise was that of Brett Lee, who hasn’t represented Australia since October 2009. Either he or James Pattinson will play as the third seamer alongside Johnson and the imposing Shaun Tait. Here is how Australia will likely line up:
- David Warner
- Shane Watson
- Cameron White (C)
- David Hussey
- Aaron Finch
- Steve Smith
- Tim Paine (WK)
- Steve O’Keeffe
- Mitchell Johnson
- Brett Lee/James Pattinson
- Shaun Tait
England could have as many as six players who participated in the Ashes series lining up in its Twenty20 side. However the series’ leading wicket-taker James Anderson has flown back home to be with his newborn daughter and will miss both Twenty20 matches and the first three One Day games. Dangerous opening batsman Craig Kieswetter – who was named Man of the Match against Australia in the final of the 2010 World Twenty20 Championship – has been ruled out of the Twenty20 series due to a neck injury and will be replaced by one of either Michal Lumb or Ian Bell. Either Graeme Swann or James Tredwell will fill the spinning duties with Michael Yardy. Here is how England will likely line up:
- Michael Lumb/Ian Bell
- Steve Davies (WK)
- Kevin Pietersen
- Paul Collingwood (C)
- Eoin Morgan
- Luke Wright
- Michael Yardy
- Tim Bresnan
- Ajmal Shahzad
- Graeme Swann/James Tredwell
- Chris Tremlett/Chris Woakes
Mentally, England should be still on a high after their 3-1 Ashes series victory – even though half of the team will change. The confidence created by the test team should ripple through to the Twenty20 and One Day side.
Maybe England’s biggest strength is in the field. It’s very rare to see Australia out-fielded by its opposition, but it was clear during the Ashes that the Poms now place a high priority on their fielding. With players like Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell and Morgan out on the ground, Australia will find it tough to find the gaps and score quickly.
It’s very important for Australia to quickly forget the Ashes debacle and start anew. Only three players are being retained from the test team, so hopefully the fresh faces will bring renewed energy to a team lacking confidence and fight.
When Twenty20 cricket was first introduced, the Australian team was basically the 50-over team put in a few different batting positions. Now the Australian selectors have got it right. They’ve picked a pure Twenty20 team meaning they’ve selected players who are suited to the quick and exciting format.
If the team that wins the toss decides to bat they are already at an advantage. It is so hard to chase down a target in Twenty20 cricket, particularly if the required run-rate is over nine runs an over.
On paper, England has the higher-profile names and greater international experience. But with a determined attitude and a few new faces in the team, Australia are a strong chance to bounce back in the shorter forms of the games and are a good bet to head to Melbourne one game up.
MAN OF THE MATCH: