Australia v England, 2nd T20, Melbourne

Can Australia secure another series?

The Preview by Brydon Coverdale

January 30, 2014

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A
'Selection issues loom large for England'

Match Facts

January 31, 2014, Melbourne
Start time 1935 local (0835GMT)

Big Picture

Different format, different players, same result. That was the case in Hobart on Wednesday, when Australia's Twenty20 specialists continued England's miserable tour with a 13-run victory that was set up by a powerful batting performance. England now find themselves needing to win the second game in Melbourne to have any hope of flying home with a series win at the end of a long and arduous trip.

England's batting was reasonable enough to get them up to 200, albeit with the help of some late and futile striking from Ravi Bopara, but it was their bowling that caused the problems, unable as they were to contain Cameron White and Aaron Finch in the early stages of the match. England might also have another talented Victorian batsman to keep in check at the MCG with the recall of Brad Hodge to the side for the first time in nearly six years.

Form guide

(Completed matches, most recent first)

Australia WLLWL
England LWLLW

Watch out for

Last time Brad Hodge played a Twenty20 for his country the first season of the IPL had not even begun. Now, Hodge is the leading run-scorer of all time in Twenty20 cricket, but at 39 he believed his international career was long since finished. The cynical view of his recall would be that it might help ticket sales at his home ground, but he knows that with plenty of T20 experience in Bangladesh, he could be an attractive proposition for Australia's selectors with the World T20 to be held there in less than two months. A strong performance in this match would make him hard to ignore.

The scorecard for the first match would suggest that Ravi Bopara got England close to their target with his unbeaten 65 from 27 balls, but the reality is that his sixes came too late for England to have any hope of victory. That they came at all should be encouraging for England, though, given that Bopara struggled for batting impact during the ODI series. The question is, can he do it again?

Ravi Bopara smashed seven sixes in his unbeaten 65, Australia v England, 1st Twenty20, Hobart, January 29, 2014
Can Ravi Bopara recreate his late hitting from the Hobart match? © Getty Images

Team news

The Melbourne fans would be disappointed if Hodge was included in the squad only to miss out, but apart from swapping him for Moises Henriques it is hard to imagine any other batting changes after the success in Hobart. Josh Hazlewood was expensive with the ball and might be under pressure from either Ben Cutting or Kane Richardson.

Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Cameron White, 3 Brad Hodge, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Chris Lynn, 7 Daniel Christian, 8 Matthew Wade (wk), 9 Ben Cutting, 10 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 11 James Muirhead.

Despite the fact that several key batsmen fell cheaply in Hobart, changes would appear more likely in England's attack than their top order. Danny Briggs was expensive and could be replaced by James Tredwell, while Jade Dernbach also leaked runs and could be under pressure from Ben Stokes.

England (possible) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ravi Bopara, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad (capt), 10 Jade Dernbach/Ben Stokes, 11 James Tredwell.

Pitch and conditions

The MCG pitch should be good for batting and the forecast for Friday is clear with a top temperature of 29C.

Stats and trivia

  • Victory in Melbourne would push Australia up from eighth to sixth on the ICC rankings, meaning they would swap positions with England

  • The former Australia fast bowler Paul Wilson will make his international debut as an on-field umpire in this match


"I don't need to call on anything else other than experience to know exactly what I can do."
Brad Hodge

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 31, 2014, 12:09 GMT)

@JG2704 (post on January 30, 2014, 18:06 GMT): yes agree about Root - but if he's there England might as well use him for a few overs bowling as well. Several of the key players MUST step up and perform as you said earlier, and at the moment that just ain't happening.

@jb633 (post on January 30, 2014, 17:08 GMT): yeah good points/observations. England just never seem to have clear bowling plans/strategies to opposing batsmen these days, and it's really costing them.

@yorkshire-86 (post on January 30, 2014, 18:44 GMT): I disagree re. 'holding' bowlers: I think the shorter formats can allow one containing/holding bowler that seldom picks up the wickets, but consistently maintains a naggingly low economy that creates pressure and allows the other 'strike' bowlers to cash in. For a wee while Dernbach (of all bowlers) was actually quite economical and great at death bowling; I don't know what happened and why he can't seem to do that these days.

Posted by Living_It on (January 31, 2014, 8:55 GMT)

Yep just quietly picked Australia exact team, including batting order. The previews published on this site predicting the teams for T20 matches are often very far off the mark.

In saying that this is my favourite cricket site. Thats really one of the only flaws, as well as the general lack of knowledge for T20 matches.

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (January 31, 2014, 7:02 GMT)

It's a 20 over game. If your top eight batsmen can't bat twenty overs, you have more than likely lost the game already.

Posted by   on (January 31, 2014, 3:02 GMT)

This is a decent team in the making. In the 1st T20 Joe Root did well but his scoring rate was too slow for what was required in the game at hand. Bopara should come up the order to see if he can reproduce that same rate and Root go down. Tredwell in for Briggs and Stokes for Dernbach and I think we have an excellent chance of winning this one. Good luck!

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (January 31, 2014, 2:42 GMT)

Hazelwood has to be in at least one Aussie team - he is a class act but for some reason has not got the big bags of wickets.

He will come good - i can feel it in my bones

Posted by CM1000 on (January 31, 2014, 0:46 GMT)

@yorkshire-86. I agree they need better bowlers than Dernbach, but I don't agree that, in T20s, you can select three specialist bowlers who are all true tail-end batsmen. Imagine if they needed 25 or 30 off the last three overs and they only had Tremlett, Finn and Onions to get them? No chance.

Posted by Kolpak1989 on (January 30, 2014, 22:34 GMT)

@Mitty2, get rid of Christian? He is a gun T20 player! Scores runs fast and bowls good tight lines that are hard to get away for more than 1. He's definitely not a test cricketer and he is borderline for ODI's, but in T20's I really rate him.

Posted by Digimont on (January 30, 2014, 20:55 GMT)

@Mitty2, Christian is ONLY "the living embodiment of a bit-part nothing player" because that's how they use him when he's picked. He's better than Henriques in batting, bowling and fielding. Bat him at 4, give him 4 overs, then see.

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (January 30, 2014, 18:44 GMT)

Batsmen need to learn to hit the ball where the boundary riders are not - almost all Englands runs came either as ones to the man on the fence, or sixes over him (Ever Bopara's sixes were all over fielders). They should know if they aim for six in a vacent area, if the ball dosnt go all the way they still pick up four rather than getting caught. As for the bowlers, they just arnt good enough. Root should have been given overs (he opens the bowling for Yorkshire in T20s when they got to the Champions League). Dernbach, Briggs and Bresnan arnt good enough to bowl in T20s - T20 is the game where you need the BEST bowlers you have, not 'holding' bowlers. Team should be Hales, Lumb, Wright (or KP), Root, Morgan, Buttler, Bopara, Broad, Tremlett, Finn, Onions.

Posted by JG2704 on (January 30, 2014, 18:06 GMT)

R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 30, 2014, 9:43 GMT) I'd consider replacing Root (who despite looking ok surely is due a rest and they seem reluctant to bowl him right now) and Dernbach with Stokes and Tredwell. Batting top 7 might read Hales,Lumb,Wright,Morgan,Buttler,Stokes and Bopara. The latter 2 could be swapped around depending on whether Ravi is awake or not

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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