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February 1, 2011
Match FactsFebruary 2, Sydney
The Big Picture
The series has been decided with two matches to spare but both teams have the World Cup to prepare for so they remain valuable outings. Australia are desperate to convert their advantage into a 6-1 drubbing, while England have two aims in the final week of a three-month tour: get their batsmen back into form and avoid any more injuries.
Apart from Jonathan Trott the visiting batsmen have been disappointing in this series and with a major tournament around the corner it's not a good time to have a serious slump. Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan should form a strong middle order but all have found ways to throw their wickets away. Then there's Paul Collingwood, who is in the side for his bowling rather than his batting.
Australia are ticking over nicely as they prepare their attempt at a fourth consecutive World Cup title. Brett Lee has led the attack impressively, while the batsmen have managed to put enough runs on the board without ever being entirely convincing. Australia's ideal scenario would be to produce an all-round display where the batting and bowling fires together.
Michael Clarke made a welcome half-century at the Gabba, having been welcomed by boos from the home support, but Shaun Marsh is out with a hamstring injury, which could make him a doubtful replacement if Mike Hussey doesn't recover in time for the World Cup.
Watch out for...
Cameron White has threatened a couple of significant innings in this series without converting so has plenty of motivation remaining. "I'm a bit disappointed with the way it's gone so far," he said. "I've had a couple of starts and feel as though I'm batting well, I just haven't got the big score." With Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey aiming to returning it will be a tight fit to play all the batsmen so it's important for White to make his mark.
To be a healthy England quick at the moment is quite a feat and if Chris Woakes avoids the current injury curse he could yet find himself at the World Cup. His 6 for 45 in Brisbane, England's second-best figures in ODIs, enhanced his growing reputation after he earned his initial selection due to Stuart Broad's lay-off. The seriousness of Ajmal Shahzad's hamstring problem isn't yet known, but time is tight before the team leaves for the subcontinent and Woakes has staked his claim.
Callum Ferguson has been drafted in as cover for Shaun Marsh, but with the series decided it could be a good chance to give Tim Paine a game before the World Cup. Another spin option is always useful in Sydney so Xavier Doherty may return, while Shaun Tait needs some cricket before heading to India, so another quick could be rested.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Tim Paine, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Cameron White, 6 David Hussey, 7 Steve Smith, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Xavier Doherty, 10 Brett Lee, 11 Shaun Tait.
Shahzad has a hamstring injury and Chris Tremlett a side strain so, with Liam Plunkett still zig-zagging his way from West Indies, it would seem wise to give James Tredwell a match. Another option is for one of the struggling batsmen to miss out and Luke Wright to get a turn.
England (probable) 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 Chris Woakes, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn.
Stats and trivia
"We probably haven't played our best. We've done well in different aspects but never really combined the bat and ball together. That's why they are two important games because leading into the World Cup you have to be at your best."
"We've played outstandingly well in one-day cricket for two years now so we're disappointed to lose the series but have a lot to look forward to with these two games and the World Cup."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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