The first ODI of five between England and Australia gets underway on Wednesday afternoon with both sides looking to draw first blood in the series when it begins at The Oval in London.
Both teams have their issues going into this first match so I’m sure everyone involved will be delighted that the cricket is ready to begin. Matches and series between these two are all strongly fought and this should be no different.
After defeat to Scotland on Sunday, England really need to come out and make a bit of a statement in this match. They have a busy summer of white ball cricket ahead of them and with expectations high going into it despite Sunday’s calamity laying a marker down in this first match should serve them well for it.
England go into the series as the number one ranked side in the world but that won’t count for a lot if they do not perform to the best of their ability. By and large this is a crack hot batting outfit but as we saw on Sunday, at times their bowling can leave a lot to be desired and that will be where the scrutiny on them is in the main.
So much has been said and written about Australia and the sandpaper issue which is fair enough but now they have a chance to finally get their heads down and concentrate on repairing their reputation on the pitch. It will be interested to see if Australia are still that in your face side they were before or whether they will mellow up to gain some public support.
One thing we do know is that they are without undoubtedly their two best batsmen in this series and they are under a captain who is leading in ODI cricket for the first time which could make them vulnerable. They are missing one or two with the ball as well so you would have to say that they are up against it here.
England will bring Jos Buttler back into their mix for this match after he was left out against Scotland. He will replace Sam Billings while Jake Ball and Tom Curran are pushing for starts. Liam Plunkett could be in trouble if England decide to change their bowling.
Australia will be without the banned David Warner and Steve Smith while Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Marsh are non-runners through injury. Josh Hazlewood is another who is not here. D’Arcy Short could make his ODI debut.
Given what we saw from England on Sunday I’m a little reluctant to back them at a short price. I’m hoping they can convince me to side with them later in the series with a good performance here but I would need to see it before I commit to anything so I’ll head to the side markets for a couple of punts.
I expect this match to be high scoring. The Oval is generally a high scoring ground and the outfield is always lightning fast. Both sides pack their line up with batsmen and you have to say neither bowling attack looks overly daunting so I’m expecting the runs, and more importantly, the boundaries to flow here. The total boundaries line is 59.5 which looks a touch on the low side to me so I’ll take the over.
Looking at this Australia attack I expect it to do the bulk of its better work in the first part of the innings rather than the death so with that in mind there should be some value on Jos Buttler to top score for England. There isn’t a lot of form below the top three in England’s line up so if the new ball does its job Buttler should get plenty of time at the crease and at 7/1 I’ll pay to see if he can lead England’s run charts.
Back Over 59.5 boundaries for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with William Hill
Back J.Buttler Top England Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 8.00 with Coral