A newfound optimism abounds among the England cricket team after Jason Roy’s record-breaking knock led them to a superb one-day international victory over Australia at the weekend. The tourists surrendered the Ashes in dismal fashion, but a new bunch of ODI specialists arrived to inject fresh dynamism into the setup.
England were rejuvenated at the MCG and romped to victory, with newcomers Roy, Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett leading the charge. They now head into the second ODI in the five-match series full of confidence, but Australia will be keen to reassert their dominance over England by returning to winning ways at The Gabba on Friday.
Australia have not lost an ODI series on home soil since 2010. They are so strong at home that last weekend’s defeat was just their seventh in five years. All-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who continued his excellent form by hitting 50 off 68 balls, said the hosts simply had an off day as they were suffering from an Ashes hangover, and backed them to return to devastating form quickly. They posted a strong total at the MCG, with Aaron Finch hitting 107 and Marcus Stoinis earning 60 runs, but England chased it down emphatically.
Now attention turns to The Gabba in Brisbane, where Australia have an outstanding recent record, for the second ODI. The hosts looked short in the bowling department in the first match as they were overly reliant on Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. Josh Hazlewood will return for the second ODI and that is good news for Australian fans as he is the world’s number five ranked ODI bowler, the highest placed Australian on the list. However, Cummins is set to be rested this time around, so it will be down to Hazlewood and Starc to vanquish the likes of Roy and Joe Root.
Roy can now be bought at 338 for total series runs in the ODI series in the latest cricket spread betting at Sporting Index, the highest tally of any player. That puts him not only ahead of the supremely gifted Root, but also ahead of Australian captain Steve Smith, the world’s number one ranked batsman. It is a reflection of his sensational knock of 180 off 151 balls at the MCG, and shows the value of bringing in ODI experts to freshen things up. Starc and Cummins really struggled to contain him, so Australia will hope Hazlewood has more joy on Friday.
But there is danger within the England ranks beyond Roy. Root, relieved of captaincy for ODIs, played with tremendous freedom and enjoyment as he hit an unbeaten 91 and combined with Roy for a third wicket stand of 221 at the MCG. Meanwhile, big hitters like Alex Hales, Johnny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler all failed to get past 15, and most will improve for the second ODI, so there is plenty for Australia to worry about.
However, the hosts will also expect huge improvements from opener David Warner, removed for two runs by Wood, and Smith, whose paltry 23 paled in comparison to his match-winning knocks during the Ashes. Finch is in fine form and Marsh and Stoinis are great all-rounders, so Australia also have plenty of weapons going into the second test.
Yet England will be buoyed by the performances of Plunkett and Wood, who bowled with the sort of pace, seam and aggression that was sorely missed during the tourists’ Ashes campaign. Adil Rashid is also dangerous and Chris Woakes continues to improve, so England can feel confident of hurting their opponents in this upcoming ODI.
They have the world’s best win-loss ratio since Trevor Bayliss took over in 2015, well ahead of second-placed India and a lot further ahead of Australia. The hosts will go in as favourites once again, simply due to having home advantage, and The Gabba will become its usual cauldron of animosity, but England have the quality to take a 2-0 lead in this series and to go on and win it. The second ODI should be a gripping contest between two excellent teams, packed full of magnificent talent, and this series is shaping up to be a lot more interesting than the Ashes.
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