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August 29, 2009
Dirk Nannes' debut Twenty20 international was for Netherlands, and it resulted in a remarkable win over England in the World Twenty20. Now, however, he has switched alliance to his birth-country Australia, who have their first opportunity for Ashes revenge when they take on England in the first of two Twenty20s at Old Trafford tomorrow, ahead of seven one-dayers.
Both sides dispatched their Associate opponents in recent days - Australia beating Scotland and England just about avoiding a howler against Ireland - but neither team has yet to master the shortest of formats. Australia failed to reach the group stages of the World Twenty20 while England were beaten to the semi-finals post by West Indies. Also, Australia have lost their last five matches in a row; their last win came in February.
Yet both teams have key one-day players of whom much is expected. For England, a lot was desired of Ravi Bopara in the World Twenty20; he gave encouraging performances of 46, 5, 2, 37 and 55. Now, though, he finds himself in a horrible rut which forced the selectors to opt for the debutant Jonathan Trott in the final Ashes Test, and though he bounced back with a double-hundred for Essex while England's Ashes heroes were drowning in champagne, he fell for a duck in Belfast.
Meanwhile Australia will have to do without Ricky Ponting, who flew home with the Test specialists, and he's not expected to be back until the latter stages of the subsequent seven-match ODI series. And with England's key player, Kevin Pietersen, also absent, these two Twenty20 internationals are an opportunity for someone else in both teams to stake their name.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
England - LWLWL
Australia - LLLLL
Watch out for…
David Hussey hasn't quite hit it big internationally as well as he has for Victoria, but his powerful first ODI hundred against Scotland has at least put him in good shape for the Twenty20s, and for Victoria in the impending Champions Twenty20 League in India. England stifled his brother until the final Ashes Test. Their Twenty20 bowlers will need to produce a similarly nagging approach against the other Hussey.
Ravi Bopara: A double hundred for Essex confirmed, were it needed, that a big score was just around the corner for Bopara. After his summer horibilis in the Ashes, there is enough pride at stake for him to bounce back strongly and prove to the doubters that he can cope with, and fight back from, a terrible slump in form.
All change from the Tests, Australia pack a punch at the top of the order with Shane Watson, Dave Warner, Michael Clarke and David Hussey occupying the top four. Brett Lee managed two wickets against Scotland in his first proper international outing of his tour, and must be hell bent on proving both his fitness and class after a frustrating summer on the sidelines. Tim Paine will take the gloves to replace the injured Brad Haddin, and he got had an encouraging debut with the bat in the Scotland ODI with 29 from 38.
Australia squad Shane Watson, David Warner, Michael Clarke (capt), David Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Adam Voges, James Hopes, Cameron White, Tim Paine (wk), Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Bracken, Dirk Nannes.
Joe Denly might have booked himself in for these Twenty20s following a mature, cornerstone knock 67 against Ireland, an innings without which England's Ashes bubble might have exploded fantastically. Paul Collingwood, the captain, continues to bat without conviction, and much rests on the shoulders of England's latest pin-up megastar, Stuart Broad. How often are we going to be saying that about him in the next few years?
England (possible) 1 Ravi Bopara, 2 Joe Denly, 3 Owais Shah, 4 Jonathan Trott, 5 Paul Collingwood (capt), 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Luke Wright, 8 Adil Rashid, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Tim Bresnan, 11 Ryan Sidebottom.
Pitch and conditions
Well, it'll be warmer than Edinburgh. That much is certain, though only a touch warmer: the BBC predict a chilly 17°c for Manchester on Sunday with showery "light rain" forecast throughout the day, which could force the involvement of the rain gods themselves, Duckworth and Lewis.
Stats and trivia
"I'm just glad it's out of the way."
Paul Collingwood breathes a sigh of relief after sneaking past Ireland in Belfast.
"The Holland one was a World Cup so that was a pretty big full house at Lord's. This one here, playing in Edinburgh, a beautiful spot, it's my first game playing for Australia, where I've been brought up. It's a pretty big deal."
Career-journeyman Dirk Nannes, formerly of Netherlands, is delighted to be donning the green and gold of Australia.