The Ashes are over. From a shell-shocked England perspective, it’s probably a blessing but the urn is back in Australian hands and with the five-match ODI series on the horizon, the tourists have a chance to spare at least some Pommie blushes.
The good news for the beleaguered Barmy Army is England are actually rather good at the 50-over format. Eoin Morgan’s team have won 16 of their last 18 games and last summer made it to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.
Iain Spragg, cricket betting expert, previews this one…
On the way, they beat the Aussies at Edgbaston in the group stage to send Steve Smith’s side crashing out of the competition. The laughter from inside the England dressing room could be heard for hours.
The drawback for those hoping for white ball redemption is their 50-over record Down Under is as abysmal as their recent Test match form.
England have never claimed a head-to-head ODI series victory in Australia.
To be fair, they did win the Commonwealth Bank Series in 2007 but it was a three-team tango with New Zealand playing gooseberry to the Ashes rivals. It wasn’t a straight Anglo-Australian showdown.
Today in 1971, 47 years ago, Australia beat England by 5 wkts, with 42 balls to spare at the MCG in the first ever ODI match before a crowd of 46,006.
Eng 190 (39.4 ov)
Aus 191/5 (34.6 ov)
Since then 3945 ODIs have been played!
Watch the match…https://t.co/X56OboTgda
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) January 5, 2018
To compound England’s woes there’s still no Ben Stokes courtesy of his ongoing troubles with the Old Bill. The all-rounder was top ODI wicket taker Down Under four years ago with 10. It was also his century in Birmingham last summer that secured the Champions Trophy win over the old enemy. The Durham star is a player even the Aussies would have feared.
Australia’s own limited overs form going into this series is though patchy at best.
They kicked off 2017 by beating Pakistan 4-1 but lost 2-0 in New Zealand and rounded off the year with a 4-1 reverse in India. They may be the reigning ODI world champions but they’re been far from infallible of late.
According to the latest ICC rankings, there’s little to separate the two teams. The home side are third in the ODI world pecking order, England are fourth, but they’re actually level on points.
The betting however still has the Aussies red hot favourites at 11/20, however, to do the business at the MCG this weekend. England are out at 29/20 and should the result go against those odds, it will be only the tourists’ second 50-over triumph in Melbourne in 23 years.
Both outfits each have one batsman and one bowler in the current ICC top 10 lists. The Aussie opener David Warner is currently ranked third in the world while seamer Josh Hazlewood is fifth. For England, Joe Root is seventh while Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett is ninth in the rankings after enjoying a brilliant 2017 with the white ball.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 8, 2018
Whether Root has recovered from his nasty bout of viral gastroenteritis during the fifth Test, which required an unscheduled trip to a Sydney hospital, remains to be seen.
The MCG has a reputation for high-scoring matches.
There have a dozen 300-plus ODI totals posted at the ground since 1983. England’s biggest score at the venue was the 294 they posted seven years ago. As a result, it’s as short as 1/50 on a player from either side scoring a half-century. The prospect of no-one reaching 50 is rated 11/1.
When the two sides met in Melbourne in 2014, the Aussies winning by six wickets, three of the four openers on show were out caught. It’s 12/25 this year on the first wicket falling by the same method for either side. Conversely, it’s 31/20 on the first wicket being taken in any other way.
A total of 10 wickets were claimed in the game four years ago. Surprisingly for a white ball match, not a single one was a result of a run-out. It’s 47/20 on either team suffering the most mishaps between the wickets on Sunday and evens that they register the same number of run outs.