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January 28, 2014
'Small ground, big hitting, big entertainment'
Match FactsWednesday, January 29, 2014, Hobart
No, it's not over yet. England's wretched tour of Australia does not officially end for another five days. Some members of the browbeaten Test and ODI squads have now gone home, including Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, but others remain. Stuart Broad, Joe Root, Boyd Rankin and Ben Stokes landed in Australia in October preparing to defend the Ashes and now the best they can do is go home with a victory in the three-match Twenty20 series. At least they have a very strong chance of achieving that, given the strength of their T20 side and the list of Australian players who are instead heading to South Africa to prepare for the Test series.
Australia finished the ODI series with the No.1 ranking but they will enter this game as the eighth best T20 side in the world, according to the ICC rankings, while England sit sixth. For both teams, this is an important series ahead of the World T20, which begins in late March in Bangladesh. Remarkably, Australia have played only six matches since the last World T20, which was held in Sri Lanka in 2012; England have played nine and are perhaps more advanced in their planning for this year's tournament.
"That's I think our biggest challenge," Australia's captain George Bailey said. "But it's a challenge that every team faces, that there's no continuity through Twenty20 series. You come together at the end of a summer or you tend to be between Tests and one-dayers and it's over in four or five days. Quite often there's a big turnover and sometimes it's tough to remember who played in the last Twenty20 let alone what sort of role they played.
"There can be a tendency for guys to maybe put their hand up and try and play for themselves but we'll be making clear to them that this is a great opportunity to play the way that we want to play and that will be just as important as the result."
Form guide(Completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
Cameron White has not played for Australia in any format since the World T20 in Sri Lanka in 2012, so this series is an opportunity for him to re-establish himself as an international cricketer. White has had a productive summer in all formats and has been an effective opener for the Melbourne Stars this summer, a role he may now be asked to play in the Australia team.
White's opening partner at the Stars has been Luke Wright and while the pair may be reunited for Tuesday's semi-final against the Hobart Hurricanes, for the next three games they will be opponents. Wright is third on the BBL run tally this summer with 275 runs at 34.37 and will be a key man at the top of England's order in this series.
The absence of several first-choice players including David Warner, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson, means that Australia may try some new things in this series. White may join Aaron Finch at the top of the order and it remains to be seen whether the raw legspinner James Muirhead will debut in Hobart.
The only apparent certainty is that Mitchell Starc, who is returning from a back injury, will not play in the first game. "I think he's still building up so I think the plan at this stage is for him to play the last couple, or the last game of this series," Bailey said.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Cameron White, 3 Chris Lynn, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Moises Henriques, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Ben Cutting, 9 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 James Muirhead.
An influx of Twenty20 specialists means England's side will look quite different from the ODI outfit, with Michael Lumb, Alex Hales and Luke Wright all available for top-order positions. There are plenty of all-round options in England's side, which means they could bat very deep depending on how the selectors balance the team.
England (possible) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Root / Ravi Bopara, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ben Stokes, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Chris Jordan, 10 James Tredwell, 11 Jade Dernbach.
Pitch and conditions
The Hobart pitch should be good for batting. In the three completed BBL games there this summer, the first-innings totals have been 162, 167 and 209, and in all cases the team batting first has won. The forecast for Wednesday in Hobart is for a top temperate of 22C.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"Once again [there are] some good opportunities for some guys to come into a squad and with a World Cup so close there's some spots up for grabs so there's plenty to play for."
"The focus is purely on what we do in Australia and once we've got these three games, and hopefully a series win, under our belt we can focus on planning more on the World Twenty20."
Stuart Broad says England want to finish the tour on a winning note
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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