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Peter English in Edinburgh
August 27, 2009
For Australia, this match should be as comfortable as a walk around an oval (not The Oval, winning there is much, much harder). It's their first game since the 2-1 Ashes defeat in London last Sunday and is a warm-up for when they resume their battles with England in a Twenty20 international at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Australia's squad has changed significantly over the past four days, with Ricky Ponting heading home with the Test specialists, and Brad Haddin having surgery on his broken left ring finger. A batch of fresh faces has arrived to join Michael Clarke, the stand-in captain, as the group starts planning for the bigger tournaments ahead. Ponting will return towards the end of the seven-match one-day series against England to fine tune before the Champions Trophy in South Africa at the end of September.
This will be the first contest between the teams outside a World Cup and is a big occasion for Scotland. They missed out on qualifying for the 2011 global event so have few opportunities to face the game's major teams. Last Saturday they lost to Ireland in Aberdeen, scoring only 109, so facing the world champions, who are currently ranked No.3, will be even more difficult.
Australia last turned out in a one-day affair against Pakistan in May, but a more relevant gauge is their form in the Twenty20 World Cup. They were knocked out in the first round, just like Scotland.
Form guide(last five ODI matches, most recent first)
Scotland - LLLWL
Australia - LWWWL
Watch out for…
Scotland will depend on Gavin Hamilton, the captain and opener, for a strong start and a cool head. He played a Test for England (a pair went with one wicket) and has appeared in 34 ODIs for his country of birth. Scotland's leading run-scorer with 1112, Hamilton registered his second century in the loss to Canada in Aberdeen last month.
Brett Lee had a forgettable Ashes series, missing the first three games with a side injury and not convincing the selectors he was good enough for the final two. Pity Scotland's batsmen if he runs in at full pace. His last proper bowl was against England Lions in Worcester at the start of July, so he has a lot of frustration to get rid of. And a lot to re-prove.
Only Navdeep Poonia is missing from the outfit picked to face Ireland last Saturday, which means Kyle Coetzer is still away with Durham. Marc Petrie, the 19-year-old, keeps the keeping gloves due to Simon Smith's shoulder problem.
Scotland squad Gavin Hamilton (capt), Fraser Watts, Qasim Sheikh, Ryan Watson, Neil McCallum, Richie Berrington, Marc Petrie (wk), Majid Haq, Ross Lyons, Gordon Drummond, Gordon Goudie, Dewald Nel.
Apart from Ponting and Haddin being away, Peter Siddle and Michael Hussey have been given days off after the Test series and will report back at Old Trafford on Sunday. The Twenty20 specialists David Warner, Adam Voges, David Hussey and Dirk Nannes are with the squad, which currently contains 15 players, and the XI is unlikely to be finalised until shortly before the toss. Tim Paine, the new wicketkeeper, is a certainty to make his debut.
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.
Pitch and conditions
The field was soft on Thursday after overnight rain, but the pitch will have a few of the Australians thinking back to The Oval. It's very dry, reasonably hard, has no signs of green and the local bowlers expect it to have good carry.
However, the BBC predicts heavy rain and showers for Friday while the Met Office forecasts "a mixture of bright or sunny intervals and showers turning heavy at times". Prepare for anything, along with a shivery maximum of 14°C.
Stats and trivia
"It's as big as it gets, that's the bottom line. These opportunities are few and far between, the reality is the result is not the be-all and end-all, but we've still got a lot to get out of it."
Gavin Hamilton, Scotland's captain
"The guys in the Twenty20 and one-day squad have been back home training, they've got a lot of good preparation, but not too much game time of late. It's really important that we come out here and gel as a unit."
Michael Clarke, Australia's stand-in captain
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper