England fight to keep series alive
Match FactsJanuary 26, Adelaide
Start time 13.50 (03.20 GMT)
The Big Picture
Australia Day would be the perfect occasion for the home side to wrap up the one-day series, but for the sake of the remaining contests an England victory is what's really needed. The visitors have played some poor cricket, especially in the last two matches, with the batting faring badly. A defeat here and the plane home won't be able to come soon enough.
That, though, won't be any concern of Australia's. They desperately needed to regain some belief following the Ashes and with coloured clothes back on they are beginning to hit their stride. England haven't forced them to play at their best, but even with injuries they are building up a head of steam. David Hussey was the star at the SCG as he showed his finishing skills, which will be valuable at the World Cup, but Brett Lee took the Man-of-the-Match award and he has led the attack superbly.
England's bowlers have actually performed a decent role, considering that it has been a second string attack, and the likes of Ajmal Shahzad, Chris Tremlett and Chris Woakes show the depth available. But somewhere in the transition from Tests to one-dayers key batsmen have lost the skill to convert starts into big innings.
It's a feeling of déjà vu as far as both sides are concerned. In the aftermath of the 2009 Ashes, also won by England, the one-day series was a horribly lop-sided affair as Australia cruised to a 6-1 drubbing. If the hosts continue their winning streak in Adelaide, it's very easy to see this series going the same way.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...
James Anderson was given a break after the Ashes but following 10 days at home with his new baby has returned to the tour in the nick of time. Although England's quicks have performed an admirable role, Anderson's experience of 133 matches will be a valuable addition. He's got fond memories of Adelaide after his impact during the Test match when he helped reduce Australia to 3 for 2 on the first morning and is a dangerous operator with the new white ball.
Cameron White has played a couple of valuable innings in this series; his 25 at Melbourne helped Shane Watson complete victory and his 45 at Hobart began the first recovery. He'll want to make his decent form count in the remainder of this series because, even though his place is secure, there will be strong competition for batting places if Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey both recover. With his immense power White shouldn't have a problem clearing the square boundaries at the Adelaide Oval and against the spinners even the straight hits aren't out of reach.
Michael Clarke said no risks will be taken with any player before the World Cup so Shaun Tait (thigh) and Mitchell Johnson (throat infection) remain doubtful. It means Australia could field the same attack that did an impressive job in Sydney.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Cameron White, 6 David Hussey, 7 Steve Smith, 8 John Hastings, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Xavier Doherty, 10 Doug Bollinger
Kevin Pietersen is fit again following his groin strain and James Anderson is available, while Andy Flower confirmed Matt Prior will continue to open the batting despite his two ducks since returning to the side. Paul Collingwood would be the likeliest batsman to make way, but could be considered at No. 7 with Michael Yardy struggling to have impact with bat or ball.
England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Matt Prior (wk), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Paul Collingwood, 8 James Tredwell, 9 Ajmal Shahzad, 10 Chris Tremlett, 11 James Anderson
Stats and trivia
- Adelaide is the venue of England's highest one-day total in Australia when they reached 3 for 302 in the infamous match against Sri Lanka during 1998-99 where Muttiah Muralitharan was also called for throwing. England still lost.
- James Anderson returns with a good one-day record in Australia. From 13 matches he has 21 wickets at 25.61, including a miserly 1 for 12 in 10 overs on this ground back in his debut series of 2002-03.
- The teams have met five times at Adelaide, with Australia ahead 4-1. England's only win was the first encounter back in 1983.
"We've played some exciting, positive cricket and I've enjoyed having the opportunity to lead the boys. I'd like to lead from the front with the bat and make some more runs, I'm well aware of that, but everyone is in good spirits and we believe there is a lot of room for improvement."
"It's not ideal, the start of this one-day series, but there are still four games to go. We intend to finish strongly, we are here to win these games, it's not just preparation for the World Cup."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo