• Australia v England ODI

Broad's rest and Finn's form stretches England

Andrew McGlashan
January 10, 2014
Broad has been rested after a busy Ashes series © Getty Images

England will begin the one-day series against Australia with another significantly under-strength bowling attack after Stuart Broad was given the first two matches off following his Ashes exertions.

Broad will spend time in Melbourne and Sydney before rejoining the squad in a full capacity ahead of the third match of the series in Sydney on January 19. It means that the opening encounter at the MCG will not feature the leading bowler of the Test series from either side with Australia opting to rest Mitchell Johnson.

James Anderson had already been granted the one-day series off, so England's pace attack will come from Steven Finn, Boyd Rankin, Tim Bresnan, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes for the first two matches, along with all-rounder Ben Stokes. There remains major concerns over Finn's form - he was the only member of the Ashes squad not to play a Test - while Rankin suffered from cramps on his Test debut, and Bresnan was dropped after the fourth Test.

Jordan, 25, who was born in Barbados, made his England debut in the final match of the previous ODI series against Australia, in September, and claimed 3 for 51 at the Ageas Bowl where he impressed Ashley Giles, England's limited-overs coach, with his pace nudging the 90mph mark. With England keen to unearth some bowlers quicker than the mid-80s, Jordan is one of those likely to benefit from the resting of others during this series.

This one-day series is given added significance by the fact that the World Cup will be staged in Australia and New Zealand next year. England's opening game is against Australia, at the MCG, and although it is still 400 days away - which allows plenty of time for fortunes to change for any of the teams - it is a chance for them to begin, in a small way, the long rebuilding process after the Ashes drubbing.

Eoin Morgan, one of England's limited-overs specialists not scarred by the recent Ashes drubbing, was the man put forward to portray the image of a new start for the battered tourists: "It's important we learn from any mistakes we make and build confidence down this side of the world," he said.

He did his best to suggest a more positive mindset around the squad - all the buzzwords where there; "fresh", "energy", "excited", "keen" - but it sounded a bit too rehearsed to be natural. Quite how many of those words are echoing through Alastair Cook's mind at the moment is unclear as he prepares to revisit the grounds that have brought only misery so far on the tour.

However, with a World Cup just over a year away (and a World Twenty20 in less than three months, for which Cook won't be a part) there is an opportunity for England to see this series as more than just a painful prolonging of their time in Australia.

The one-day squad had their first training session at the MCG on a warm Friday and there was a less hang-dog expression than had characterised the final weeks of the Test campaign, although it would have been disappointing if that was not the case given that strong performances over the next five matches can push World Cup, and even Test, claims.

By the nature of rotation, England are exposing more players to one-day internationals as Giles starts to put his plans in place for the World Cup, and Morgan went as far as to suggest there was almost an embarrassment of riches, which may provoke some wry smiles from Australians. "We will only be able to take 15 and it will be a tight squeeze because we could potentially take 20, so it certainly creates opportunities for youngsters," Morgan said.

Inevitably, though, the name of one person who isn't here will continue to dominate: Kevin Pietersen. Now that England have split their coaching structure, Giles' stance on Pietersen is an intriguing sub-plot to the fall-out that appears set to happen in English cricket, not least whether he wants Pietersen as part of his England sides. Giles has always been confident that he and Flower would be able to work through any selection differences, but if the two don't see eye-to-eye on Pietersen, it could be hard to find a solution.

Pietersen had already been rested for this series before the rumblings of the last few days. Due to injuries or rotation, since Giles has taken charge of the one-day side he has not had a full complement of first-choice batsmen to select from, so has been spared the ultimate decision on who gets in. It is by no means certain that Pietersen would be in that first-choice side. In the nine ODIs he has played under Giles, against India and Australia, he averages 28.44, but leaving a player out for form-related reasons is very different to other issues that may be put forward.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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