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Australia v England, Twenty20, Sydney

England hope for light relief

Cricinfo staff

January 8, 2007

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Michael Vaughan's return will be the major talking point at the SCG © Getty Images
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If anyone thought England's tour of Australia couldn't get any worse they'll need to think again - the coloured clothing is coming out. The tri-series acts as the final run-up to the World Cup, but first there's the chance for England to shed some inhibitions in the Twenty20 International at Sydney.

The game hasn't quite worked out how to judge the latest format of limited-overs cricket, with Ricky Ponting's comments showing that it still has some way to go to achieve respectability. However, it is rapidly becoming part of the cricketing landscape with most major nations now playing a domestic version and the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship taking place in South Africa in September.

There are also plenty of issues providing interest for the match at the SCG, most notably the return of Michael Vaughan as England captain. If any form of cricket will test out his knee it will be the quick-fire nature of Twenty20.

He will bring some much-needed calmness, and a fresh outlook, to the battered England squad which is once again lacking major experience. Paul Collingwood, England's middle-order fulcrum, is aware that the senior players have a key role to play in guiding the youngsters.

"I can always remember my debut watching [Shahid] Afridi smashing it over backward point off Darren Gough and thinking to myself 'what is going on here?"' Collingwood said. "It's likely to be exactly the same for the new guys. There will be times when they will probably miss a good line and length by a matter of inches and get smashed for a big six. This is what you learn at international level - the margins are so small and you have to be right on your game."

England have played three Twenty20 Internationals, winning one - against Australia at the Rose Bowl in 2005 - and losing both their matches last year against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Australia hold a 50-50 record having defeated New Zealand but lost to England and South Africa. They also managed to beat South Africa in the first game in Australia last season.

Australia can never take a sporting contest lightly, but following on from Ponting's remarks Andrew Symonds says they won't be gauging much from the result. "You still do have that element of pride at the end of the day but it doesn't have that complete sense of seriousness about it. If you win, you win, but we won't be taking it into the first one-day international saying 'We rolled England in a Twenty20 game'."

Australia have resisted the temptation to use the match as a chance to rest leading players such as Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, although Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark do miss out, giving Ben Hilfenhaus, the Tasmania fast bowler, a chance. Cameron White, who set Twenty20 records during his time at Somerset last season, is also back in the frame. Despite Ponting having his reservations about the format don't expect Australia to take their foot off England's throat.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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