Hopes predicts tough England test
James Hopes expects a more aggressive England to turn out in the one-day series starting on Tuesday than the one that was swept aside last year. Australia, who relied on Hopes to escape defeat against Ireland on Thursday, breezed to a 6-1 victory in 2009, but lost the World Twenty20 final to England in the Caribbean in May.
The allrounder Hopes said England's new-look team would be a threat in home conditions, starting with the opening game at the Rose Bowl. "I'm sure they're backing themselves to beat us," Hopes said after the 39-run win in Dublin.
"If you add Kevin Pietersen back into their team - he wasn't there last year - I think they are going to be naturally more aggressive. We're going to have to get better because if we bowl like we did at the start and the English team get into a position like the Irish team did, they probably would have put us away."
Ireland's openers raced to 80 in 11 overs in their chase of 232 before Hopes stepped in to take 5 for 14 off nine to secure a victory that prevented an embarrassing result. Everyone but Hopes was rusty after a layoff and the side now heads to Lord's to play Middlesex in their final warm-up before the England series.
"It was good to play the Irish because they are a pretty good team," Hopes said. "We have another practice match on Saturday and we know a five-match series against England is going to be different to the seven-match series we played last year when we beat them 6-1."
The performance of the Ireland team impressed Hopes and he expects more improvement if they can get regular games against the world's best sides. "Every time they play a Full Member country, they're not disgracing themselves," he said. "They're putting on a good show and giving teams a good run."