Australia ready for low-key tour opener
Thursday, June 17
Start time 1045 (0945 GMT)
The Big Picture
Australia's six-week tour of the British Isles begins in the understated surrounds of Clontarf in Dublin, where they kick things off with an ODI against Ireland. While Ricky Ponting's men will be understandably keen to ensure a big victory, the real aim is to shed any winter rust before the five-match series against England.
Several of the Australians were in the Caribbean for the World Twenty20 last month, while others have been involved with the IPL since the Australian season ended. But for some, like Ponting and James Hopes, the past two and a half months has been an extended holiday. They don't want to head to Southampton for the first ODI still rusty, so expect Australia to play their full strength team in this encounter.
For Ireland, there's little to lose. Nobody truly expects them to beat Australia, but their history shows they are capable of upsets if their more fancied opponents fail to show them due respect. Next month they have two more chances to beat a Test-playing side when they host Bangladesh in Belfast, but knocking off Australia would be something special.
Form guide (most recent first)Ireland LLWWW
Watch out for...Tim Paine has done everything right when he has been given opportunities in the one-day team. He scored 111 against England at Trent Bridge last year and has also posted three half-centuries in a 17-game career. Paine will have the gloves for at least the limited-overs portion of the tour but is also auditioning for a potential Test debut if Brad Haddin's elbow injury keeps him from rejoining the squad.
A tall fast man who has been identified by the ECB as a potential player of the future, Boyd Rankin will be a key man if Ireland are to restrict Australia's batsmen. In home conditions, he could be more of a challenge than the Australians anticipate.
Ireland will be without the 17-year-old spinner George Dockrell, who was highly impressive at the ICC World Twenty20. He is unavailable due to exams and on the eve of the match they also lost the experienced Andre Botha with a suspected stress fracture of the back.
Ireland (possible) 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Niall O'Brien (wk), 4 Alex Cusack, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Gary Wilson, 7 Andrew White, 9 John Mooney, 9 Trent Johnston, 10 Peter Connell, 11 Boyd Rankin.
Elbow problems have prevented both Mitchell Johnson and Haddin from joining the squad in Ireland. Paine will take the gloves and most likely the opening position, which could mean Shaun Marsh has to wait for his comeback having missed the tour of New Zealand with a back injury. The pace trio of Ryan Harris, Clint McKay and Doug Bollinger will lead the attack in England, so they will all be keen for a decent warm-up. The teenage fast man Josh Hazlewood will probably be running the drinks, with Steven Smith and Nathan Hauritz to battle for the spin position.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Tim Paine (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Cameron White, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 James Hopes, 8 Steven Smith/Nathan Hauritz, 9 Ryan Harris, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Doug Bollinger.
Pitch and conditionsThe Dublin pitch is expected to be slow and low, which will reward stump-to-stump bowling. The forecast is for isolated showers and a top temperature of 21C.
Stats and trivia
- The two teams have met only once before in a one-day international, when Australia romped to a nine-wicket win at the 2007 World Cup
- Ireland famously beat Pakistan and Bangladesh in the World Cup in the West Indies, but have not beaten a full ICC member in an ODI since then
- Ireland are yet to be beaten in an ODI at the Castle Avenue ground in Dublin, where they have had five wins, one no-result and one match abandoned
- Trent Johnston played five first-class games for New South Wales from 1999 to 2000, and will be lining up against one of his former state team-mates, Michael Clarke
Quotes"If you get ahead of yourself and you're worrying about England and you don't pay Ireland the respect they deserve then they can sneak up and bite you."
Merv Hughes, the Australian selector on duty
"It's hard for us to look and say, if Australia are tip-top in every area, that we will beat them but if they're going to screw up at any time then we're going to be ready for it."
Phil Simmons, the coach of Ireland
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.