England looks for redemption in ODIs



Clint McKay’s axing from a Melbourne Stars match goes to show, in the age of player rotation, it might be easier to win selection for Australia than a Big Bash team.

The five-match Carlton Mid ODI series starts Sunday in Melbourne, but the cramped schedule means the major drawcards won’t always be on show, especially in the opening games.  

Given Ashes superstar Mitchell Johnson looked stiff and sore when he joined Mark Taylor on the dais at the SCG on Sunday, you can’t complain about him being rested.

If that’s the case, the bowler to take his place on Sunday will likely be McKay.

McKay was named Australia’s one-day international player of the year last February but has misfired in all domestic formats this season.

After being belted for 50 runs off his four overs against Melbourne Renegades on Saturday night, he was left out of the Stars’ 13-man squad to play Adelaide Strikers on Thursday night.

Of course, an experienced ODI campaigner such as McKay might be as effective, if not more, than a worn out Johnson.

There is no easy answer to Australia’s management of its Ashes stars and exposing lesser lights to international cricket has its benefits, for both selectors and fans.

For England, it’s fitting that a mid-strength beer is the new sponsor of the series because its squad lacks bite compared with Australia’s.

The worry is that stars Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson are missing, while the rest of the England squad are the same blokes who were emulsified in the Tests.

How will they respond from the 5-0 drubbing?

At least history is on their side, with the losing Ashes team from the past three series having bounced back to win the one-day tournament that followed.

That includes 2006/07 when England turned the tables after its last Test whitewash.

For England to succeed at the World Cup, its bowling stocks will need to run deeper than usual suspects Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and James Tredwell.

That’s why the series is vital for Steve Finn. Can he recover his rhythm and new-ball zip? Is there is an X-factor spinner to supplement one-day specialist Tredwell? It might be Yorkshire’s 22-year-old Azeem Rafiq who puts his hand up.

Rotation aside, Australia has named a powerful squad with David Warner, Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke also going around.

Another player to watch is Nathan Coulter-Nile.

The Western Australian paceman, with two ODIs and three T20Is to his name, has become accustomed to running drinks this summer after being placed on standby for the last three Ashes Tests.

He missed out on a dream Ashes call-up, but the right-armer might use these ODIs as the springboard he needs.

Then there’s embattled George Bailey.

Ranked the fourth-best 50-over batsman in the world, a strong campaign could save his ticket to South Africa from being torn up.

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