Nick Teale - ODIs are ideal World Cup preparation
15 Jan 2011 - 20:13:15
With the Ashes in the bag the one-day series between England and Australia might seem like a slow-starting after party.
The reason Andy Flower's side and the Barmy Army travelled Down Under was to retain the little urn. They succeeded in style and the Test series is over.
The one-dayers seem of little importance in comparison but with the World Cup just one month away the next seven matches take on great significance.
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Australia are the current world champions, while England won the Twenty20 World Cup last year. Both are among a number of nations who could win this incredibly hard-to-call tournament.
Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa and hosts India all have what it takes to win the World Cup but some strong performances over the next few weeks could make either of Australia or England the favourites.
Playing the reigning champions seven times in the build-up gives England an ideal opportunity to test their squad strength against some of the best cricketers in the world.
It’s a chance for England to answer critics and resolve selection dilemmas before the World Cup starts.
Paul Collingwood is the man under most pressure but his ability with the ball, and especially in the field, means that he is worth persevering with and I'm sure he'll find a big score just in time for the trip to India.
One option if England do choose to replace Collingwood could be Alastair Cook. He has publically accepted that he is unlikely to be in the 15-man World Cup squad and won't feature in the series against Australia.
But Cook is England's man in form and I don't see the point in holding him back. His strike-rate in one-day cricket is a shade short of 77 and in his current form he would surely increase his average of 36.55.
Choosing the bowlers will be the selectors' biggest headache ahead of the World Cup.
Chris Woakes has done well in the t20s and showed his batting prowess with some big hits in the two matches.
Chris Tremlett and James Anderson are in form so Mike Yardy, Ajmal Shahzad or Tim Bresnan could lose out from the t20 squad.
It is likely that Bresnan will be replaced when Anderson returns from a break for the fourth ODI and Yardy could make way for Tremlett.
With the bat Ian Bell and Jonathon Trott have big arguments for inclusion but one of the pair will almost certainly lose out.
Nick Teale's predicted XI for the first ODI:
Strauss, Davies, Trott, Pietersen, Collingwood, Morgan, Yardy, Bresnan, Swann, Tremlett, Woakes
Confirmed Australia team for the first ODI:
Watson, Haddin, D Hussey, Clarke, M Hussey, White, Smith, Bollinger, Lee, Doherty, Tait