Welcome everyone to the afternoon and another international series, the sixth and last of this strange summer in the UK. So far they have won four (Test series, ODIs Ireland, T20V Australia) and drawn one (T20s Pakistan). Is it time for them to miss out?
The Aussies go to Manchester with speed after winning the final T20 match. They can choose from all three – Stark, Hazlewood and Cummins – a trident if ever one. Their robotic middle order will suddenly be steely for the arrival of Marnus Lapusakne, who sounds like something from Harry Potter and runs like a machine. He only won his first back-to-back yellow cap this year, but has already averaged 300 runs at 50, and each time he has advanced to 40 runs.
England’s latest record in this format against Australia is extraordinary, with 11 of the last 13 wins. But one of the last two defeats was to win last year’s before losing in the semifinals of the World Cup group stage at Addis Lords. On Tuesday, England’s fielding collapsed when they were under pressure for not taking many runs.
He said they also have reinforcements. Again Jose Butler comes in the form of his life. Back, probably, comes the white ball brilliant Eon Morgan – no one would dare to point the butter finger at his icy glowing face. Joe Root is there to bring peace and fluency to the top row: if he had been there the other night, England could have won.
Even in a power play mess, Chris Vokes returns to show that a bowler can be a model of consistency. He makes a better foil for Joffre Archer than Mark Wood, whose role now sparks fly in the middle overs. England need to recover Jason Roy from injury, but it could go either way. The guy who eats Aussie white bowlers for dinner (17 games, three centuries, average 49, strike rate 115), or the guy who can’t buy a run from the lock, with scores 0, 24, 0, 1, 4 and 14?
The pitch is expected to be a slow turner – a strong sweep of England’s North South Asia. That should fit Adil Rashid, whose Google weakens grown men and women at the knee. Rashid was the first man to fire Steve Smith this week Twice in T20 internationals, When he had already dismissed him only Five times in ODIs. Smith, who has missed fifty in nine innings (for Cummins XI and Australia) since the start of March, certainly means a big century instant.
It is so delicious. The game starts at 1pm and should be dry enough if the weather is not exactly warm. I will be back after 12.30 with the toss and teams.