Eoin Morgan’s England can challenge Australia in one-day series
Big hitters may be subdued in opener at MCG
BT Sport 1, 3.20am Sunday
England's Test team took a pounding against Australia but enough high-class reinforcements have arrived to suggest that the five-ODI series should be far more competitive.
Australia are world champions in 50-over cricket but they were beaten by England in the Champions Trophy last year and there is bound to be a drop in intensity from the hosts in this series.
Having regained the Ashes urn, and with a four-Test series starting in South Africa in March, the Aussie management will take no risks with the fitness of pacemen Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Hazlewood will be rested for the first game, with Cummins sitting out the second ODI and Starc, who missed the fourth Test with a bruised heel, sure to have a breather at some point.
David Warner and Steve Smith may also be rested during the series while hard-hitting batsman Chris Lynn has been ruled out with a calf strain and there is no place for the mercurial but hugely talented Glenn Maxwell.
Sunday, January 14 Melbourne
Friday, January 19 Brisbane
Sunday, January 21 Sydney
Friday, January 26 Adelaide
Sunday, January 28 Perth
All matches start at 3.20am UK & Ireland time
Just five of the England 11 who played in the fifth Ashes Test are in the one-day squad.
ODI skipper Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler are thrilling batsmen and the change of format could reinvigorate Moeen Ali, who had a miserable Test series but smashed a 53-ball century against the West Indies in a one-dayer last September.
Moeen the bowler restored some confidence with 2-28 from ten overs in this week’s warm-up win in Sydney and fellow spinner Adil Rashid was a hit in the Big Bash with Adelaide Strikers.
Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood should offer the kind of pace that England lacked in the Tests while Chris Woakes and Tom Curran are fine white-ball performers.
Australia’s record in home ODIs is outstanding. They have won 30 and lost just four of their 30 matches since the start of the 2014 series against England.
However, the middle-order remains a major weakness, as shown by the recall for veteran Cameron White, who hasn’t played an ODI for Australia since January 2015.
A 3-2 England series win is worth a small bet given that Australia won’t be at full strength and the tourists’ batting line-up is at least as strong as the hosts’ top order.
Jonny Bairstow, successfully promoted to open at the end of the 2017 English summer, and Test captain Joe Root are classy 50-over players but Morgan looks a big price to be England’s top runscorer.
Bairstow and Root are unlikely to play all five games after a gruelling Test schedule but Morgan, as a one-day specialist, should be an ever-present.
He warmed up for the series with an unbeaten 81 against a Cricket Australia 11 and, despite four ducks in his last five ODI innings in Australia, punters should keep the faith.
Before that freakishly poor run in 2015, Morgan scored 121 against Australia in Sydney and in the 2014 series he had scores of 50, 106, 54, 33 and 39.
He made three centuries and three other scores of 75 or more in 18 knocks last year and merits a bet to be top England runscorer, as he was in the 2014 series.
There are some sweet strikers of the ball on both sides but the big hitters may be a little subdued in the first ODI in Melbourne.
Bet365 offer 5-6 about 11 or fewer sixes in the match and that is a tempting price considering that the last ten ODIs at the MCG have featured maximums tallies of two, five, eight, four, five, four, five, five, eight and two.
England are 7-4 outsiders and Australia opener Warner, who made 156 out of 264-8 in the Melbourne win over New Zealand in December 2016, is a 3-1 shot to top-score for the hosts.
England to win 3-2
1pt 7-2 Coral, Ladbrokes
E Morgan top England series runscorer
1pt 11-2 bet365
Under 11.5 sixes
3pts 5-6 bet365
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