The oldest rivalry in cricket is all set to kick-start the latest version of cricket’s grandest event. The Ashes lore of Australia vs England can make epic cricket tomes. Still, for the time being, everybody will talk about the 50-over match between these two sides at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 14. When the world celebrates the Valentine’s Day, two old foes will be locking horns at the World Cup. Which team can start off the tournament with a win?
Here is our exclusive preview of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Match #2 in Pool A between Australia and England at Cricket.com.pk
Former English footballer Gary Lineker once described football thus: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win”.
No English cricketer – past or present – will admit to this; but deep down their heart they know it is applicable to cricket too. Cricket is a simple game; 22 men play and at the end, the Aussies usually win, especially when they play against England.
They have beaten England three times even in the last month itself – in the Carlton Mid Tri-Series, including the final. Except for the second match at Hobart, all the wins were comfortable strolls in the park for Australia. Will England offer a stiffer challenge to Australia this time? They will. Don’t be surprised if the World Cup 2015 starts with an upset.
Team news – Australia
Michael Clarke and James Faulkner will miss this fixture. That leaves Australia with less of selection headache. All their bowlers are in great form, especially Mitchell Starc – the one who could have sat on the bench. They can’t leave out Mitchell Johnson, especially against England. That leaves Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins in the fray vying for the third bowler’s slot. Stand-in skipper George Bailey will also face dilemma over choosing Xavier Doherty or Mitchell Marsh.
Their batsmen pick themselves. David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell have the firepower to demolish any bowling attack in the world. Still, it will not be easy against Anderson and company in a World Cup match at the MCG.
Team news – England
England matches Australia’s bowling attack man for man. If any bowling attack are to stop the Aussie batting juggernaut, it would be James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Chris Woakes. England is susceptible in the batting department. Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root are capable bats. But they do not have that x-factor – the ability to turn the match upside down in a matter of few overs. Perhaps, Jos Buttler or Moeen Ali could become the new x-men.
The post-Ponting generation of Australian batsmen has come of age. Previously, they had been prone to batting collapses. Over the last year or so, the collapses have disappeared, thanks mainly to the stupendous form of Smith and Warner. When they score a big total, they usually win because their bowling never lets them down in home conditions. The planets will have to be in perfect alignment if England must win this tie.
England’s chances lie in how well they bowl. One of their bowlers will have to produce a five-for effort. The team cannot expect their batsmen to score a mountain of runs against this Australian attack.
It is hard to imagine the ways in which England can beat Australia. Perhaps, the best way would be: bowling first, bundling out the Aussies for a sub-250 score and withstanding the fire of Johnson and company to chase down the target. All other imaginable passages lead to an Australian win. Still, cricket has a tendency to lay bare unimagined pathways to the spirited ones.
Australia Squad: Michael Clarke (c), George Bailey (vc), Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (wk), Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson
England Squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Joe Root, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes