ODI series preview: Australia v England

Australia

Both England and Australia have employed a change of personnel for the one-day series Down Under, starting in Melbourne, but the Aussies have retained the key players that won them the Ashes so convincingly.

Both England and Australia have employed a change of personnel for the one-day series Down Under, starting in Melbourne, but the Aussies have retained the key players that won them the Ashes so convincingly.

The last time the sides faced each other in an ODI series, in the wake of England's Ashes win at home last year, the Aussies bounced back from defeat to take the shorter format series two-one.

This time, they will be hoping for less interference from the weather, and will be confident of doing the double against the demoralised Three Lions. So confident are they that they've left Mitchell Johnson out of the side for the first game.

Johnson and England paceman Stuart Broad have been rested for the early part of the series, but while the Aussies have a strong back-up attack, England will need their rookies to fire from the start as the pace line-up looks a bit thin.

Broad and James Anderson are not playing, leaving Steve Finn as the most seasoned paceman to guide Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan, Boyd Rankin and Chris Woakes. Finn did not play in a Test as he was so out of form, so this will prove interesting.

As for the England batting, they have skipper Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Joe Root on call, but all three failed during the Ashes, leaving Stokes and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler as the players to keep an eye on, as well as middle order veteran Eoin Morgan.

The Aussies on the other hand have their big scorers in David Warner, Shane Watson and Aaron Finch ready to fire, while James Faulkner, increasingly considered an all-rounder, will ensure a good depth to the line up.

Australia are ranked a spot higher on the ICC table, second to England's third, but one suspects the gulf may feel wider than that over the next three weeks, especially if England get off to a losing start.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, getting off to a good start in each game will be crucial, and they will need opener <b>David Warner</b> to take advantage of England's inexperienced attack and carry on the form he showed during the Ashes.

England will look to all-rounder <b>Ben Stokes</b> for inspiration after his 'the one bright light' performances in the Tests. He may be a relative rookie, but his BMT was on display more than once over the past two months.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2013 fifth ODI: Australia won by 49 runs in Southampton<br>2013 Fourth ODI: England won by three wickets in Cardiff<br>2013 Third ODI: No result in Birmingham<br>2013 Second ODI: Australia won by 88 runs in Manchester<br>2013 First ODI: Match abandoned in Leeds

<b>Prediction</b><br>England will avoid a whitewash this time, but we reckon the Aussies will remain on the charge and take the series three one, with one abandonment/wash out.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>England:</i> Alastair Cook, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Stuart Broad, Michael Carberry, Steve Finn, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Boyd Rankin, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.

<i>Austrlia:</i> David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: 12 January, Melbourne<br>Second ODI: 17 January, Brisbane<br>Third ODI: 19 January, Sydney<br>Fourth ODI: 24 January, Perth<br>Fifth ODI: 26 January, Adelaide

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