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The Preview by Alan Gardner
September 15, 2013
Match factsSeptember 16, Ageas Bowl
Big PictureEngland's international season, which began with a Test against New Zealand on May 16, will reach its terminus down on the south coast with the deciding ODI of the series. Their opponents, Australia, have been here more than three months themselves (and will return home with a different coach), so there is likely to be an unavoidable sense of 'school's out' come the presentation ceremony at the conclusion of the fifth one-dayer in Southampton.
Despite poor weather scrubbing out two rubbers, the series is neatly poised at 1-1 after England's improved display in Cardiff. An inexperienced attack made good use of the conditions, Eoin Morgan having won a useful toss, and the depth in the batting (plus a little magic from Jos Buttler) bailed them out after Clint McKay's hat-trick. Some will say that the inclusion of a fourth genuine pace bowler might have kept Australia to an even smaller total but Morgan and Ashley Giles will feel some justification for continuing to back an experimental side.
Despite having played some impressive cricket, Australia find themselves facing the possibility of another series defeat. Michael Clarke has only been involved in one international victory on the whole tour and his chances of leading the team to a morale-boosting triumph have been knocked by the news that his back - which prevented him from playing a part in the Champions Trophy - is playing up again. With yet more ODIs on the horizon (in India), ahead of the return Ashes, Australia won't be taking any chances.
Both teams may be a little battle weary but the prospect of an Ageas Bowl belter should perk up the batsmen, at least. If the rain stays away, we can justifiably hope for a carnival atmosphere and some six-hitting saturnalia to sign off the summer. Savour it, because there's an almost ten-week gap before hostilities resume Down Under.
Form guideEngland WLWLW (Completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...
Another player who has pressed his Test credentials during the ODI series is Clarke's vice-captain, George Bailey. His chances of coming into contention for a place in Australia's Test middle order probably rest more heavily on early season Sheffield Shield form at home, but an ODI average pushing 50 won't do any harm. Both of his knocks in this series have yielded 80s and he has been central to Australia's plan to unsettle James Tredwell.
England have cleaved unwaveringly to this XI through the series and it is a fair bet they will continue to stick rather than twist. Chris Jordan and Jamie Overton have patiently waited for debuts but could find themselves carrying the drinks again.
England (possible) 1 Michael Carberry, 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Joe Root, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Ben Stokes, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Boyd Rankin
Shaun Marsh has been ruled out after straining a hamstring in Cardiff, so Phillip Hughes will come in as a like-for-like replacement at the top of the order. Clarke will be assessed in the morning, with Glenn Maxwell providing cover. Spinners on both sides took a bit of punishment in the T20 in Southampton but Fawad Ahmed could return for Nathan Coulter-Nile, depending on conditions.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 George Bailey, 6 Adam Voges, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Nathan Coulter-Nile/Fawad Ahmed, 11 Clint McKay
Pitch and conditions
Stats and trivia
"He's a huge part of our team and he deserves this. It's a pretty good hat-trick to have - some good players in there."
Michael Clarke had praise for Clint McKay's efforts in defeat
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Alan Gardner
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