T20 series preview: England v Australia

Australia

The England v Australia rivalry shifts focus dramatically this week as we move from the longest format to the shortest, and also from two Test captains to two completely different T20 skippers.

The England v Australia rivalry shifts focus dramatically this week as we move from the longest format to the shortest, and also from two Test captains to two completely different T20 skippers.

England's Alastair Cook is not in the Twenty20 set-up, handing over the captaincy, and the tiring media duties, to fast bowler Stuart Broad, while the Aussies shift their allegiance from Michael Clarke to George Bailey.

The hosts come into the series on the back of a three-nil Ashes series win, though the squad for the T20s is dramatically different from that winning side. Only Broad, Joe Root and Steve Finn will be familiar to recent Test audiences.

This means the mindset change for England will not be as dramatic, as players like Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach and Luke Wright have been playing domestic T20s until very recently, and will be thinking switch hits rather than forward defensives.

The Australians, meanwhile, have a core group from the Test arena to call on, with Steve Smith in great form with the bat. David Warner, while not successful in the Tests, will be keen to get back to his roots, while Shane Watson's death bowling will get a better result here.

The Aussies are without fast bowlers James Pattinson and Jackson Bird, as well as young paceman Pat Cummins, all of whom have back injuries, while England couldn't have called on Tim Bresnan for the same reason, even if they'd wanted to.

There will be pressure on Steve Finn and Jade Dernbach if selected, as the former was dropped after the first Test due to some horrific spells, while the latter's last match for England saw him concede 87 runs in 10 overs, without a wicket.

As for England's batting, they have opted to go without Kevin Pietersen, who was back to his flashy best in the final Test at The Oval. They do have second-ranked T20 batsman Alex Hales to call on though, fresh off his string of high scores for Nottinghamshire.

Of the six completed T20s the sides have played against each other, they have each won three, with the most recent ending in a narrow win for the Aussies in Melbourne. As it stands now, England are sixth and Australia are seventh on the T20 rankings.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For England, all-rounder Luke Wright will be the man to watch, especially with the bat. He's scored four centuries since mid-July, including in his most recent match for Sussex, and eight days ago for England Lions.

The Aussies will look to Shane Watson for inspiration, given his century in the fifth Ashes Test. After a series filled with criticism, he will be keen to show why he is the number three T20 batsman, and replicate the bowling form he had at the World Twenty20 last year.

<b>Last Three Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2011, 2nd T20: Australia won by four runs in Melbourne<br>2011, 1st T20: England won by one wicket in Adelaide<br>2010 World T20 final: England won by seven wickets in Barbados

<b>Prediction</b><br>We're going to say that England, as a group, will not yet have recovered from their Ashes celebrations, giving the Aussies a chance to win a game in Southampton, before making a comeback in Durham to level the series.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>England:</i> Stuart Broad, Ravi Bopara, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Michael Carberry, Jade Dernbach, Steve Finn, Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Boyd Rankin, Joe Root, James Tredwell, Luke Wright

<i>Austrlia:</i> George Bailey, Michael Clarke, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Fawad Ahmed, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First T20I: 29 August at Southampton<br>Second T20I: 31 August at Chester-le-Street

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