England on verge of record run
July 4, Edgbaston
Start time 2.00pm (1300 GMT)
The Big Picture
England are a win away from securing their seventh consecutive one-day series title at home and, if they achieve that at Edgbaston, it will also give them a new record of nine ODI victories on the bounce. Whatever problems exist overseas, they are tough to beat at home.
Their wins against Australia at Lord's and The Oval were impressive all-round displays and showed how England are becoming more confident, whether they bat or bowl first. They have gambled somewhat with five frontline bowlers, leaving Tim Bresnan at No. 7, but so far neither West Indies nor Australia have knocked over the top order to test the strength of what follows.
There is no great secret to England's success with at least one top-order batsman in every match making a sizable contribution. It was an area both Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur indentified as why Australia are struggling. Four of their batsmen have passed fifty so far in the series, but none have gone beyond Shane Watson's 66.
Australia are also in a muddle about their bowling attack. Mitchell Johnson's poor comeback has added to the headaches, while Xavier Doherty is not close to matching Graeme Swann's effectiveness. In this corresponding series two years ago, Australia left their revival too late to save the series and they will have to improve in all areas to keep this one alive into the weekend.
Form guide(Completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...
Craig Kieswetter has taken a couple of superb catches in this series to remove David Warner and Peter Forrest but there remain question marks around his place in the team. He struggled to time the ball at Lord's - although Eoin Morgan's onslaught meant it was not costly - and did not face a ball at The Oval so, for the longer-term benefit of the team, it would be useful if he was needed to play a substantial innings. Although, if he is not needed, it means England's top order is still doing the business.
In the absence of his brother, Michael, David Hussey is crucial to Australia's middle order. He was worked over by the short ball at Lord's, but was just starting to motor at The Oval when a brilliant piece of fielding by Steven Finn sent him packing. However, it would benefit him if he was not left needing to improve a flagging run-rate when he came into bat.
England will not risk James Anderson if any doubts remain over his groin strain so Chris Woakes, who has been repeatedly drafted into the squad this season, is set to play his first ODI since facing Ireland last August. Jade Dernbach has been ruled out of the series with a side strain, although both he and Stuart Meaker were always going to miss this match because of Tom Maynard's funeral.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 Steven Finn.
Australia may consider an all-pace attack - leaving the spin to David Hussey and Michael Clarke - and Mitchell Johnson could make way for either James Pattinson or Ben Hilfenhaus. There is not much they can do with the batting.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 David Warner, 3 Peter Forrest, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 George Bailey, 6 David Hussey, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Brett Lee, 9 James Pattinson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Xavier Doherty.
Pitch and conditionsIt rained on Tuesday and showers are forecast for match day as well, although it does not look like washout potential, which will be relief for Edgbaston after three abandoned days during the West Indies Test. After so much poor weather, the pitch could be on the slow side, while the day/night element may influence what happens at the toss.
Stats and trivia
- The teams have met eight times at Edgbaston, with England ahead 4-3 and one no result.
- That no-result was the most recent meeting, in 2005, when Simon Jones and Matthew Hayden went chest-to-chest ahead of the Ashes series.
- Jonathan Trott needs eight runs for 2000 in ODIs. Alastair Cook needs 49 for the same landmark.
- Brett Lee needs one wicket to become Australia's leading wicket-taker in ODIs with 381, level with Glenn McGrath's overall tally but one of McGrath's came for the World XI in the 2004 tsunami fundraiser.
"I'm sure they'll fight back They're the No. 1 team, so I'm sure they're obviously going to come back strong - and we're ready for that."
Chris Woakes expects a resurgent Australia
"The exciting thing is we feel we haven't played very good cricket yet, or as good cricket as we can. So that's the opportunity we have for the next three games. The risk is you get on the bus and it's a really quiet group and it's down thinking 'what do we do now', but it's really upbeat. There's joking, there's talking, there's banter about what we can do differently, what we're going to try, and that suggests to me there's a team that certainly believes they can still come back and win this series."
George Bailey puts a positive spin on things
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo