Australia v England, 7th ODI, Perth February 4, 2011

White takes charge of resurgent Australia

Australia will use their third one-day international captain of the season on Sunday, but this time the change has been made from a position of strength as the home side's season draws to a close in far better shape than it began against Sri Lanka, in Perth, during October.

Cameron White takes the reins with the team 5-1 up and Australia's momentum building nicely ahead of their tilt at a fourth consecutive World Cup. The other captaincy changes - when Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke shared the role against Sri Lanka and then when Clarke took the job from the injured Ponting - have been at times with severe question marks over the side. All is certainly not right with Australian cricket just because of five one-day victories in three weeks, but the panic button isn't being pressed as rapidly as it was a month ago.

Like England, who travel back home then straight to the World Cup, there is a swift turnaround for Australia over this next week. The players will leave Perth straight after the final ODI and head to Melbourne for the Allan Border Medal before departing for the subcontinent a few days later. They have two warm-up matches against India and South Africa ahead of their opening group game against Zimbabwe on February 21.

Although that match is just two weeks away Australia are focussed on making this series a 6-1 scoreline before thinking too much about the challenge ahead. "It's definitely in the back of people's minds, or getting towards the front of their minds," White said. "Everyone has one eye on it but this is an important game. There's a bit of chat about it but there's a bit of preparation to go before we get into that side of things."

It's a new-look Australian outfit that will take the field in Perth with Clarke and Shane Watson rested while Ponting and Mike Hussey are still sidelined with injury. It has meant a recall for Adam Voges and an ODI debut for Jason Krejza, but White believes the change in personnel will help Australia's push for another victory.

"I'm confident this team can win. We are in good form and the bowling group is pretty much the same," he said. "It's a fresh outlook, we can go and play with a freedom and give it a crack. I don't think we've been at our best. In the last game we batted out of our skins but didn't bowl very well. We've been a little bit off in some areas and it would be nice to combine a good game. That's a challenge in itself."

There has been some disgruntlement in Western Australia about the resting of key players, which will deny a sell-out WACA crowd the chance to watch a resurgent Clarke and the powerful Watson, but White said the decisions was taken for the bigger picture of the World Cup.

"I can understand [the disappointment] but at the same time I think the public understand that it's five Tests, six or seven one-day games and a couple of Twenty20s leading into such an important series. It's an opportunity to give those guys a bit of a freshen up after they have played the whole summer to make sure they are ready for the biggest one-day competition in the world."

It's been the toughest season for Australia since their slump in the 1980s as the Ashes were conceded with three crushing innings defeats, key players suffered injury and form loss and the whole structure of the game has been brought under the spotlight.

There remain many tough questions to answer and injury clouds hang over vital figures as the countdown to the World Cup continues, but a series-ending victory in Perth would rubber-stamp a month of one-day cricket that has been more productive than many people thought possible.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on February 6, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    @vulpecula - I actually agree re: T20s. I think T20s shouldn't be played amongst Test nations & be solely at a provincial/franchise level.

  • kieran on February 5, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    @ Something_Witty: have to agree re: Whites batting, I can't see him battimg higher than 6-7 in the Test team, and if he's not going to bowl anymore then he doesn't make the cut (unfortunately). And Clarke's captaincy has been very good in this odi series, he probably got a lot of help from White, but it's been good nonetheless. Can't wait to see Tait/Lee/Johnson on a (hopefully) pacy Perth pitch.

  • Andrew on February 5, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    @Gilly4ever - like a recor player on an endless loop! I too would like to see Hodge have been given more games - not to be. His stats aren't all that good though & he did get about 25 games to prove himself. Dan Christians time will come - I think he'll be the gun allrounder for 2015 W/Cup. White in Tests? He doesn't match up (yet). As captain? He's no better than Haddin or Clarke IMO.

  • John on February 5, 2011, 17:21 GMT

    @Gilly4ever, while I agree that White is tactically one of the most astute captains in the country, you can't deny that Clarke has done a good job since he's come in. - His captaincy has been very impressive. I really feel for Hodgey, but not being selected in the WC team pretty much confirms that he will never play for Aus again. Not sure whose toes he stepped on, but it's disgraceful that he was snubbed so often and for so long. Regarding White, I'm not sure his batting is quite up to test standard. He could give it a go of course, but I'm not convinced that he is technically sound enough for test cricket. - If he can't hold his place as a batsman, he shouldn't be in the team. (The same problem Clarke faces at the moment). We do not need a specialist captain in the team, the poms tried it with Mike Dreary and it didn't work out that well.

  • Adrian on February 5, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    Cameron White should be Australia's captain in all 3 formats. He is easily the best tactician in the country. I think that this series has shown that Australia has good players in reserve and a lot more depth than we are given credit for. All of this while we are still ignoring the 2 best one day players in the country, Brad Hodge and Dan Christian.

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    Looking at dubiously "strong" facets of ENG side in this series, i.e. cannot chase 210+ and fail to defend 330+; AUS should have a cake-walk in the field tomorrow. Especially, with the reputation of Perth wicket, it would be interesting to see how long ENG batting can last against Lee, Johnson and Tait chasing anything close to 200!!

  • John on February 5, 2011, 10:02 GMT

    If England can't beat the side we'll be fielding in Perth, they mightn't want to bother turning up in India. If we field the side that is looking likely, it will have to qualify as one of the most unbalanced sides of all time. Still, best of luck to our boys.

  • john on February 5, 2011, 9:42 GMT

    Strauss want ODI's before Tests - well, he's nearly got it right. That garbage should be scrapped to allow more proper games, i.e. test matches - and as for that lunacy 20-20 nonsense - that should never have been played at all (apart from pub teams etc of course) - it was only invented in the first place to placate mindless soccer supporters who had nowhere to get drunk at once the soccer season was over

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