Cricket Picks: England vs. Australia at Birmingham Preview

Richard O'Hagan

Monday, September 9, 2013 6:10 PM GMT

England have spent the summer beating up on the Australians, but they were on the receiving end of a thrashing on Sunday in the first one-day international. Can they now mount a comeback in Wednesday’s game?

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Seasoned Monopoly players know that there are only so many times that you will receive the ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. That knowledge does not seem to have reached the management of the England cricket team, because after escaping from their friendly match against Ireland last Wednesday with an ill-deserved win, they attempted to beat Australia with almost the same unbalanced and inexperienced line-up. Let's see what this week's match might have in store for our cricket picks.

Australia are still one of the best in the world at the 50 over a side version of the game and it showed at Old Trafford on Sunday as they piled up the highest score achieved against England in the UK, a score the hosts only got within 100 of thanks to a bludgeoning innings from wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. Australian captain Michael Clarke scored a century, George Bailey added fifty and Aaron Finch, their hero of the recent T20 series, would’ve had a fifty of his own had he not brainlessly thrown his wicket away on 45.

England’s problem is their insistence on playing with only three specialist bowlers and trying to make up 40% of their overs using part-timers. It is a policy which simply hasn’t worked. Not only have those 20 overs been expensive, but playing the extra batsman simply hasn’t helped either. Michael Carberry has failed in both games, Gary Ballance and Jonathan Trott in one each. Add to that the way that Australia targeted veteran spinner James Tredwell in Manchester (he completed just 8 of his allotted 10 overs) and the extra batsman is beginning to look like an expensive luxury.

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The problem with this Australian side, though, is working out just how much to read into this performance. Australia have still had more prime ministers this summer than they have won cricket matches. They beat England handsomely in the first T20 international a fortnight ago, only to suffer an even bigger thumping in the second game, and England’s team selection practically handed them Sunday’s match on a plate.

Their big worry will be the form of Fawad Ahmed. The legspinner’s Australian citizenship application was fast-tracked earlier this summer and there were high hopes that he could be the vital component lacking from their bowling attack. His performance in Manchester, though, was no less expensive than Tredwell’s and with no other alternative in the squad they could be forced to rely upon the less threatening Adam Voges and Glen Maxwell instead.

That said, it is hard to see them changing a winning side for Wednesday’s game. England, though, should bite the bullet and drop either Carberry or Trott. The replacement is likely to be one of the two uncapped players in the squad, Sussex all-rounder Chris Jordan or Somerset paceman Jamie Overton, who if (and when) selected will be the youngest player capped by England since the 1940s.

Australia are currently a best price of 8/11 with Coral to win this game, with England 6/5 at Bet365. It is hard to see the hosts coming back to win this one, so those betting odds are less than generous.

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