England v Australia, 1st ODI, Lord's

England start out on World Cup journey

George Dobell

June 28, 2012

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Andy Flower and Alastair Cook chat during England practice, Lord's, June 28, 2012
Andy Flower and Alastair Cook are hoping to mastermind England's success in a global one-day tournament © Getty Images
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Whatever the hype and hysteria over the next couple of weeks, there be will no World Cups or Ashes urns won as England and Australia resume hostilities in the NatWest ODI series. Instead, these five games represent not a destination, but a step on the journey for both teams.

That does not render this series worthless. It will act as a barometer of each side's true position and provide an idea of how they must improve. It might also provide a vague guide to next year's ICC Champions Trophy. The fact that Lord's is expecting a capacity crowd of 30,000 underlines not only the draw that encounters between these two sides still has, but the draw of a wonderful, well-run ground. To regularly fill a stadium of this size in the current economic climate is a fine effort.

That England go into this series with an outside chance of becoming the No. 1-ranked ODI side - they will need to win 5-0 to do so - speaks volumes not just for their progress in recent times, but also for some anomalies within the ranking system. A team that has lost so comprehensively in both India (5-0 at the end of 2011) and Australia (6-1 after the 2010-11 Ashes series) will surely have to win a major global trophy to convince that they are more than a very good side in their own conditions.

That remains a key aim of this England side. Indeed, this series has been scheduled very much with a view to the World Cup, to be played in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, and the Champions Trophy, to be played in England next year. In return for this five-match series, England will have the chance to acclimatise with a five-match ODI series in Australia ahead of the World Cup, while these games should help both sides prepare for the Champions Trophy.

It was a point made by England captain, Alastair Cook, as he looked forward to the games. "The reason this series is in is because of the 2015 World Cup," Cook said. "We really want to have some warm-ups in Australia to get used to those conditions just before that World Cup. That makes sense for our preparation then, so obviously as a reciprocal thing they have to come here. As players we don't mind. It's going to be a brilliant, hopefully, ten days.

"We haven't won an ICC [one-day] trophy and we have a good chance next summer in our home conditions. That would suit us well. Clearly in a four year cycle you build to the World Cup but on the way you have to win as many games as you can. The Champions Trophy next year is half way to the World Cup and a good stepping stone."

England have a dismal record in the last five World Cups and, despite the recent success in the UAE, they also have a modest ODI record away from home. But, in their own conditions, they are dangerous and recent performances suggest they are heading in the right direction.

No other side is playing ODI cricket with the same methodology as England. While all other major sides have at least one explosive batsman at the top of the batting order, England have opted for batsmen of more solid, traditional style and a line-up that increasingly resembles their Test side. One of the few concessions they have made to 'specialist' limited-overs players comes with the selection of Craig Kieswetter as wicketkeeper. And it is his place that is, arguably, most at risk.

But just because no-one else is doing it does not make England's method wrong. Indeed, against two new white balls and a No. 1-rated ODI side boasting at least two high-quality fast bowlers, England may well be grateful for batsmen of the class of Ian Bell, Cook and Jonathan Trott at the top of the order.

It is worth remembering that England, too, would be playing quite differently had Kevin Pietersen not departed. But, just as Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss only came to form the captain/coach partnership that revived England's fortunes through the successful calamity that was the sacking of Pietersen and Peter Moores, so we may come to reflect in time that Pietersen's retirement proved to be a blessing in disguise. Bell, in particular, has been given a fresh chance to fulfil his undoubted potential in this format.

Cook said he was not surprised how quickly England had moved on from Pietersen. "It's a great sign of strength," he said. "It's an encouraging sign as a captain that we have a good squad of players, that if someone is no longer here we have got people who can come in and perform straight away.

"We are very much a developing one-day side and we're desperate to keep going up the rankings," Cook said. "I think we are progressing as a team. People are starting to feel comfortable in their roles in the set-up, but that doesn't count for anything when you walk out on the pitch.

"We've got a really good test of ourselves now. They've proven they are going to be a really tough and dangerous one-day side and a tough side to beat. We're got to have to be at our absolute best.

"Each international side has a couple of guys who can get it up to 90mph and these guys are now in a similar position to us in that they have eight or nine guys who can play in their fast bowling slots. They're in a position of strength just like we are."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by TATTUs on (June 29, 2012, 17:50 GMT)

AND THUS BEGINS THE HYPE!

P.S:Caps where necessary.

Posted by JG2704 on (June 29, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

@Nadeem1976 on (June 28 2012, 21:32 PM GMT) Didn't one of those weak teams just win the Asia cup and the other one draw a series against the number one side? Don't worry it will probably all go wrong vs Aus and we'll go downhill from there

Posted by JG2704 on (June 29, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

@John Sunder on (June 28 2012, 18:39 PM GMT) PS I was so taken aback by your comments that I actually missed the bit about tantrums. Do you want to explain such incidents or are these - like your ICC theories - just in your head? Please publish

Posted by 5wombats on (June 29, 2012, 15:01 GMT)

@sanjaycrickfan on (June 28 2012, 20:27 PM GMT) - rubbish. Why have you brought india into this? A side like india ODI - who are completely incapable away from home should not be mentioned here. Nobody here cares about india.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (June 29, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

@Posted by on (June 29 2012, 09:43 AM GMT), what dont you understand? England get a 5 match ODI series in Jan/feb 2015 BEFORE the 2015 world cup, Australia get 5 ODI's 12 months ahead of the Champions Trophey in England, and a head of the 2013 Ashes, in order to give thier new bowlers some experience. In total England will play an ODI series in 2014 after the2013/14 Ashes, so in the space of 12-14 months england will likely play 10 games in Australia.

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

"It was a point made by England captain, Alastair Cook, as he looked forward to the games. "The reason this series is in is because of the 2015 World Cup," Cook said. "We really want to have some warm-ups in Australia to get used to those conditions just before that World Cup. That makes sense for our preparation then, so obviously as a reciprocal thing they have to come here. As players we don't mind. It's going to be a brilliant, hopefully, ten days." Most erudute excuse I have heard for this money chasing effort! If ECB is serious about what Cook is cooking up then they shd find ways to play in Australia where the WC will be held not in an English summer!

It is disgusting that Tony Greig singles out BCCI as being after money when EVERY board is doing it and evry borad gets a share from the IPL riches.

Posted by jb633 on (June 29, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

@Nadeem, so Pak are a weak odi side. Therefore as they were the victors of the Asian cup should we assume that all the Asian sides are just rubbish. Sorry mate but your logic is false. Every side in world cricket is inconsitent at present. As the next world cup is played in Aus where the ball might get up above the knee roll, I fully expect India to be pummeled. Batsmen caught on the hook backing away to square leg, scared. India are garbage on any bouncy wicket, like Eng are on spinning one's. Unluckily for Inida they will be playing the next WC on bouncy tracks. Good luck Suresh Raina hahahah

Posted by RedRoseMan on (June 29, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

@Nadeem1976 - what a load of rubbish! Did you not read the article at all? Its whole flavour was about how England are rebuilding with an aim to being competitive at the 2015 WC, with next year's Champion's Trophy as a stepping stone along the way. England are a long way away from being a WC winning team at the moment - but the WC is also a long way away and with the current England management structure I wouldn't bet against them getting it right over that timescale.

I have serious doubts about whether England yet have the players in place to win a WC, but over three years they have the opportunity to develop a team and there are plenty of young players waiting in the wings to come in if the current team don't progress. Hales, Buttler, Taylor, Woakes, Stokes (to name but five) all show promise.

England are not claiming to be world champions - but they will have a plan to get there. Whether they will succeed is a different question - to win a WC takes luck as well as skill.

Posted by JG2704 on (June 29, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

@rahulcricket007 on (June 29 2012, 04:39 AM GMT) Where did Jimmy say he didn't want to play ODIs? I'm pretty sure I read an article on here saying that Jimmy was very disappointed not to be included on the OD tour of India. Also in our last home series vs India we won convincingly as we did in the last ODI series in UAE vs Pak so if we're not passionate enough we must have done something right. We know our failings but I'd say our players are still pretty passionate even if we're never good enough to be OD number 1

Posted by Sandeep.M.J.D on (June 29, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

What Worldcup you are talking about? LOL....

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