Patrick Noone previews the ODI series between England and Australia.
Australia come into the ODI series with England off the back of three successive bilateral series defeats. Since winning the World Cup in 2015, there has been a sense of steady decline for the 50-over side as retirements of key players from that triumph such as Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson have left holes that have been hard to fill.
18 players have been handed debuts in the three years since Australia’s fifth World Cup success but only two of those – Adam Zampa and Travis Head – have played more than 20 matches. Balance has been hard to find in the batting, while few of the seamers tried have been able to provide adequate depth behind the first choice trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, all of whom will be absent from this tour through injury.
Bowling – slow starters
Australia’s new ball bowling in this format is a concern; they have the highest economy rate of any side during the Powerplay overs since the World Cup.
In the same period, England’s batting run rate at that stage of the innings is 5.49, higher than any other team. With Australia missing their three first choice seamers, the home side will likely focus on getting fast starts to put the inexperienced attack under pressure early on.
Bowling – death over specialists
Conversely, Australia’s bowling at the other end of the innings has been much improved. Since the World Cup, they have conceded 6.75 runs per over in the last ten overs, a lower figure than any other team in that period and are likely to feature Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye in their playing XI. The pair were death over specialists during last winter’s Big Bash League season, recording the best economy rates of bowlers to have bowled 50 balls or more at that stage of the innings.
Even allowing for the difference in format, the pair have shown enough of the skills needed – knuckle balls, slower ball bouncers, cutters – for death over bowling to give Australia some encouragement.
Batting – Short in the frame
On the batting front, Australia will of course be severely weakened by the enforced absences of Steve Smith and David Warner. D’Arcy Short is in contention to make his debut at the top of the order in place of Warner, but he is coming off the back of a less than impressive IPL season with Rajasthan Royals, during which he reached 40 just twice in seven innings and recorded four single-figure scores.
Short struggled against spin in the IPL, with five of his seven dismissals coming against the slow bowlers, and even his infinitely more impressive Big Bash season suggested he is far more comfortable with pace on the ball.
The pitches in England will be more to Short’s liking, as the average turn on offer in the last three years in ODIs is just 2.8°. Only Australia (2.5°) has seen less turn in that time so, if selected, the powerful left-hander could well find England to be something of a home from home and rediscover his form from the winter.
Batting – Maxwell’s return
Another player coming into this series after an underwhelming IPL is Glenn Maxwell. The big-hitting allrounder went on a run of five successive single figure scores in a tournament that saw him score just 169 runs in 12 innings with a top score of 47.
Maxwell was controversially omitted from four of the five ODIs Australia played against England in the aftermath of the winter’s Ashes series with captain Steve Smith issuing concerns over his attitude in training. However, there is no denying Maxwell’s talent; since the 2015 World Cup, he has the highest boundary percentage of any player to have faced 500 balls or more, despite seven of those players attacking a higher percentage of balls faced.
These numbers show that Maxwell is more than simply a slogger and that England should be wary of his ability to up the scoring rate in the death overs – a period of the game where Australia struggled for impetus in their home series against England earlier this year, scoring at just 6.60 runs per over in the last ten overs.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst