It is odd to be thinking this, let alone writing it – but I firmly beleive Australia need to win tomorrow far more than England. And not just to save the series from being won by England, but to gain vital initiative and momentum – both of which are lacking from most of their players, and of their team as a whole. Of the batsmen, only Hussey looks threatening and, of the bowlers, only McGrath looks like he can be relied upon.
Stuart, commenting before the first ODI, reckoned “England can only lose from this odd little one day series.” And, perhaps predictably, I’d like to reverse that. Stuart goes on to say that England wouldn’t be considered favourites for the Test series “even if England win all three one dayers, by substantial margins.”
I’d agree with that last sentiment – England wouldn’t be considered favourites. But not for a long time has an Australian side had to work so hard for so long, at the start of a series. Yes it’s ODIs; yes they have [some] different players for the Test side but, nevertheless, I know for certain that the form of this Aussie side has had many die-hard fans (maybe some reading this…!) scratching their head, with more than a little concern.
They do have to win tomorrow. In under two weeks, they’ll face England at the very same ground – and history is by far on Australia’s side there, where they have beaten England there since about 1930 (I’m not joking – 1930!).
Will Gillespie play, and if so, will he find enough form?
Will Ponting fall over? Again.
Will McGrath no-ball? Again.
Has Lee really worked Strauss out? Is he too much of a liability for the Test side?
Can Vaughan dominate the Australian bowlers again, and get into some form himself?
Will Australia cope better with Flintoff and Harmison this time?
All these fascinating little battles (hence my love of this game) will be unfolding tomorrow morning – hopefully amid glorious sunshine. Avinash and I will be providing updates – him more than I, initially – so let’s get chatting about it.