England look sharper for deciding clash
September 13, 2015
Start time 10.30am (0930GMT)
If there were fears the English international season would limp to a conclusion - first of all in the wake of Ashes victory and then with Australia taking a 2-0 lead in this series - they have been emphatically put to bed by England's back-to-back victories, which mean there is a winner-takes-all match at Old Trafford.
The weather has played ball and the pitches have been terrific for one-day cricket: pace to encourage the likes of Pat Cummins, but which also allows attacking batsmen to prosper, enough turn to not make the spinners redundant coupled with fast outfields that have provided value for shot. Three-hundred has proved the benchmark, but England's chase at Headingley to level the series showed that it can be overhauled.
For both the teams, it is the beginning of a rebuilding process in one-day cricket. It will be interesting to see how closely the sides at the 2017 Champions Trophy - to be played in England - compare to what is currently taking the field.
But the here and now is about winning on Sunday. If England pull off the comeback job to take the series, it will give Eoin Morgan a complete set of limited-overs success this season. For Australia, it is their last chance to take something from a tour which began with such high expectations, but that will largely be remembered for batting collapses and retirements.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Jason Roy has looked a million dollars in this series. He was the only one of the top six not to pass fifty against New Zealand, but has made two stylish half-centuries and not fallen for less than 31 in the four matches. He was named, alongside Morgan, as the key England batsman by Pat Cummins. The ease with which Roy drives through cover and clips off his legs - the latter with more than a hint of Kevin Pietersen - means it looks like a waste when a soft dismissal crops up. England clearly like what they see, but a match-defining contribution would cap his summer.
With Mitchell Starc having earned a rest at Headingley, it means Steven Smith will be the only Australian to play every international of the tour and there is precious little time before his next task, in Bangladesh. He has made runs in all three formats and will leave these shores knowing it is on his shoulders to help shape the future of the team. Does he have one major innings left in him for this trip?
England's one decision is whether to recall Steven Finn, who was rested for the fourth match, in place of Mark Wood who, while bowling quickly, has struggled to take wickets (four in six ODIs now) and has a high economy rate. Although David Willey proved expensive at the death, his new-ball burst of three wickets was valuable.
England (possible) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Jason Roy, 3 James Taylor, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Liam Plunkett, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 David Willey, 11 Steven Finn
Australia must decide whether to push out Starc for one more match on this tour, while they will most likely have to find room for Ashton Agar - probably at the expense of Marcus Stoinis. James Pattinson and John Hastings were both expensive at Headingley and one probably has to make way. Hastings offers more batting, while Pattinson has more of a future ahead of him.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 George Bailey, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Ashton Agar, 9 John Hastings, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Pat Cummins
Pitch and conditions
A day game this time, so some different considerations to the previous match on the ground which was under lights. It is also being played on a new surface. England exploited some early swing in Leeds with a 10.30am start, but the spinners will again expect some help. The forecast has improved with a dry day in the offing.
Stats and trivia
- If England win the deciding match, it will be their first bilateral one-day series win against Australia during an Ashes tour - as opposed to a tri-series or standalone series as in 2010 and 2012 - since 1997.
- Eoin Morgan needs one run to become just the second England batsman to score 600 runs in a home summer - Andrew Strauss made 745 in 210.
- If Pat Cummins takes two wickets he will equal the most scalps taken by an Australia bowler in a five-match one-day series. Clint McKay took 14 against Pakistan in 2009-10.
"If momentum does exist then it is with us. We managed to steal a bit of it while we were in Manchester. I think confidence is a contributor to that. Going into Sunday the guys are full of confidence and we are really looking forward to it."
Eoin Morgan believes the force is with England
"We really wanted to come here and finish off the series and give us some breathing space for Manchester.. We played it like a final, but the good thing is Sunday will be a final and we've played a lot of them and been quite successful."
Pat Cummins acknowledges Australia will need to dig deep for the deciding match
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo