Saturday, January 15, 2011

World Cup places up for grabs

This match is being used to mark the 40th anniversary of one-day cricket, which began back on January 5, 1971 when Australia faced England at the MCG after the scheduled Test was abandoned due to rain. How times have changed. Floodlights, coloured clothes (and colour TV), white balls, Powerplays, HawkEye, the switch hit and much more. What hasn't changed, though, is Australia's desire to win and they haven't been doing a lot of it lately.
The Twenty20 victory on Friday was a welcome change of fortune and now the one-day series is the last chance to prepare before heading to the World Cup next month. But with the squads having to be named by January 19 in reality there is one game before the players will know their fate. Judging by the Australia selectors there are a few spots still up for grabs so there's plenty riding on performances at the MCG for the likes of David Hussey, Xavier Doherty and Shaun Tait.
England are a pretty settled unit after an upturn in their one-day form over the last 18 months. They will welcome back Andrew Strauss, who wasn't part of the Twenty20 squad, but he's the only change. James Anderson isn't around until the fourth match in Adelaide having popped home for a rest but Chris Woakes has already shown his ticker on his Twenty20 debut.
England's World Cup record since 1992, when they lost in the final against Pakistan, has been dire yet they are more than an outside bet this time. They beat Australia 3-2 during the English summer, which gave them some valuable hints for the Ashes, although they were rattled by the pace of Shaun Tait in the latter part of that contest. They won't want to concede any ground to Australia.

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