Australia aim to climb up rankings
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Start time 14.30 (13.30 GMT)
It might have taken the better part of three months, but the Australians finally have something to smile about entering the final week of their long, and occasionally torturous, tour of the UK. Australia's successful pursuit of England's 299 in the fourth ODI in Nottingham provided them a 5-0 series lead and with it the chance to reclaim the No. 1 limited-overs ranking from South Africa. To do so, Ricky Ponting's men must win both their remaining matches at Trent Bridge and Chester-le-Street, providing at least one hemisphere a reason to tune into a series that was decided last weekend.
English viewers may need more convincing. As if a bumbling fielding performance and a fifth straight ODI defeat were not enough, England suffered the added ignominy of watching their all-time ODI win-loss record slipping into the red for just the second time since January, 2007. In a more practical, though equally depressing, development the hosts learned on Wednesday that Luke Wright's toe injury would rule him out of the final two matches against Australia, and possibly the Champions Trophy. Dimitri Mascarenhas bowled well in Wright's absence on Tuesday, although his uneasiness against the express pace of Mitchell Johnson will not have imbued Andrew Strauss with much confidence.
England at least managed their highest ODI total against Australia since 1980, and have something to build upon ahead of the Champions Trophy. Eoin Morgan produced his best performance since defecting from Ireland earlier this year, and Strauss was at his indomitable best before being incorrectly adjudged lbw.
(last five matches, most recent first)
England - LLLLL
Australia - WWWWW
Watch out for...
Ricky Ponting could move to third place on the ODI all-time run-scorers' list this week, and his form on Tuesday suggested many more are to come. Ponting showed the benefit of his fortnight's rest by blazing a sublime 126 from 109 deliveries at Trent Bridge - his highest ever one-day score against England - to lead Australia's ultimately successful run-chase. His driving and pulling were of the highest order, and with another match looming on the batting-friendly Trent Bridge strip, England will do well to contain him.
Eoin Morgan demonstrated just why England moved to poach him from Ireland this year with a cavalier innings of 58 from 41 deliveries that included all the strokes from the MCC coaching manual - and a few of his own making. The Australians struggled to contain the powerful left-hander, who appeared just as adept driving down the ground as he did reverse-sweeping the ever-probing Nathan Bracken. His innings made a pleasing change from England's Strauss-or-bust batting strategy, which had been employed with little effect throughout the series prior to Tuesday.
Mascarenhas' mixed-bag medium pacers frustrated the Australians in his first ODI match for England since the home series against West Indies. Wright's absence should ensure Mascarenhas retains his place in the starting XI for Thursday's match. Graham Onions is yet to be unleashed on the Australian batsmen in this ODI series and can expect his chance over the coming days.
England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Joe Denly, 3 Ravi Bopara, 4 Matt Prior (wk), Owais Shah, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Tim Bresnan, 11 Ryan Sidebottom.
Brett Lee's pleas to play on were ignored on Tuesday but, freed from the clutches of Australia's rigid resting policy, he will presumably return to action. Johnson or Bracken should be next in line for a breather, with Ben Hilfenhaus waiting in the wings.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Tim Paine (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Callum Ferguson, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Cameron White, 8 Nathan Hauritz, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Nathan Bracken.
Pitch and conditions
If the centre strip plays anything like it did on Tuesday, the Nottingham faithful can expect another high-scoring encounter. Australia always felt confident pursuing England's 299 on a true wicket and a fast outfield, and eventually accomplished the feat with 10 balls to spare.
Stats and trivia
- Australia's victory on Tuesday took them level with India at second place on the ODI rankings. A win on Thursday will move them to first alongside South Africa, and another victory at Chester-le-Street will ensure they reclaim top spot in the rankings entering the Champions Trophy.
- England's all-time ODI win-loss record slipped to 246-247 after Tuesday's defeat to Australia; just the second time since the start of 2007 they have entered negative territory.
- Ponting requires 43 runs to usurp Inzamam-ul-Haq as the third highest all-time run-scorer in ODIs.
"I thought that was closer to our potential as a batting unit. It was a far better performance, so that was encouraging, but in tight games you don't want to let yourself down in the more elementary areas of the game."
Andrew Strauss laments England's poor fielding after the fourth ODI against Australia on Tuesday.
"It was a really good run chase and another good team effort. It just goes to show that we're heading in the right direction with our one-day cricket leading into the Champions Trophy."
Ricky Ponting sets his sights on South Africa.
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo