- England v Australia, 2nd ODI, The Oval
England eye further claims to No. 1 spot
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Start time 1045 (0945 GMT)
The Big Picture
Victory at Lord's was extremely important for England. Many would have cast off their improved ODI fortunes as nothing much having beaten Pakistan at the end of a tour in which the opposition had already got the job done in the main series - Pakistan swept the Tests 3-0 - and then against West Indies, who were always going to struggle in bowler-friendly conditions.
The win in the first ODI was against top class opposition - Australia are the World's No. 1 ODI team - who were fresh, prepared and motivated for the series. More wins against these type of teams will make people look more favourably on England's chances for the 2015 World Cup - which is what this series in particular is geared towards. Another England victory would also have them dreaming of claiming the No. 1 spot from Australia, which a 5-0 whitewash would achieve.
The only issue for the hosts is whether James Anderson is fit to play. But it's not much of an issue because the replacement would be Jade Dernbach on his home ground. He's got pace and variations to last all day and would be good for the run out in an ODI. Anderson was rested when fit for the Edgbaston Test so any sign of injury will surely see him whisked out of the side.
For the tourists, they didn't do too much wrong at Lord's but where their problems could lie is in the middle order. David Hussey looked troubled by the pace of Steve Finn - pace which will be accelerated by a hard Oval pitch - Steve Smith is yet to convince at No. 6 and Matthew Wade is perhaps batting too low for his talent and could often be coming in under pressure with the two players above him struggling to contribute.
Players to watch
Consistently above 90mph at Lord's Steve Finn will have a firmer deck to get through at The Oval which will help him even more. He has been England best bowler in the last few ODI series and is England's answer to the young quicks that Australia are bringing through. Finn has the firepower to take out Australia's big hitters and is key to providing a sharp edge to England's attack.
A harder, flatter pitch might help the quicker bowlers but it will also provide a perfect platform for David Warner. He hits the ball so hard and has a marvellous ability to hit cleanly through the line and use the pace of the ball to cut, again with immense power. He will enjoy The Oval.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steve Finn.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 David Warner, 3 George Bailey, 4 Michael Clarke, 5 David Hussey, 6 Steven Smith, 7 Matthew Wade, 8 Brett Lee, 9 Clint McKay, 10 Pat Cummins, 11 Xavier Doherty.
Pitch and conditions
The weather at Lord's was nearly the Australian's 12th man, with the ball zipping around at the start of England's innings. No such advantages should be experienced at The Oval with the forecast fine with period of sunshine expected. The wicket looks brown and hard and should be quicker than Lord's.
"It's nice as a captain when you can keep pulling on bowlers of that quality, take one off and another one keeps following up, and keeps the pressure on. That's the idea anyway. We're being really harsh on ourselves, I don't think it was a perfect performance in the field or close to it, so that was encouraging."
Alastair Cook thinks England's bowlers can raise their games again after winning the series opener.
"We weren't outplayed at all yesterday, I just think that we lost our wickets in clumps, the Powerplay cost us and that little back part of the innings where they got 40-50 runs from the last few overs, they're the crucial moments that win it or lose it for you. We've got to fix those things up and then I reckon we're in good stead for the next four games."
David Warner identifies where Australia must improve at the Oval.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo