In their first internationals since their ill-fated Test series against South Africa, Australia travels to England to take on the top-ranked ODI side from June 13-24 in a five-match series. While Australia took home The Ashes in convincing fashion when England went down under, England took the ODI series 4-1, with contributions from up-and-down the squad.
Beyond England's recent superiority in one-day cricket, Australia faces a rash of forced changes from their series-losing side. Gone are opener David Warner (suspension), their skipper Shane Smith (suspension), allrounder Mitchell Marsh (ankle) as well as bowlers Mitchell Starc (leg), Josh Hazlewood (back) and Pat Cummins (back). With that many absences, Australia will rely on a small handful of squad stalwarts to go along with a bevy of fresh-faces if they want to steal the series.
England is not without their share of absences for the series. Allrounder Ben Stokes will miss the start of the series with a hamstring tear while Chris Woakes will also miss time with a hamstring injury, which puts a bit of a damper on England’s tail as both Stokes and Woakes are quite handy with the bat while Woakes’ bowling as both an opener and at the death will be difficult to replace.
Players to Watch
Wicketkeeper - Jos Buttler (England)
In sparkling form in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Buttler earned a callup back to the England Test squad and surprised everyone with a thundering pair of half-centuries in his three innings (all whilst batting at No. 7 no less). One of England’s best white-ball cricketers, Buttler averages over 38 at a strike rate of 118 in one-day cricket throughout his more than 100-match career. While he struggled in Australia, save for an unbeaten hundred at Sydney to seal the series, Buttler’s recent form should make him a shoe-in for any squad over the light-hitting Tim Paine.
Batsman - Aaron Finch (Australia)
In the absence of Australia’s two-biggest hitters, the burden to score runs will rest on Finch’s shoulders. Finch did well in Australia’s two tune-ups, recording half-centuries in both matches and was the top-scorer of the series the last time these two squads met in January, recording two centuries and a half-century in his three matches. The vice-captain opened against Sussex and batted in the middle-order against Middlesex and has batted in both slots throughout his 88-match ODI career; however, wherever he is in the order, he’s sure to be a danger-man for Australia.
Allrounder - Travis Head (Australia)
Beyond Finch and fellow allrounder Marcus Stoinis, Head will be relied upon to pile on the runs for the Aussies. The 24-year-old has been plying his trade for Worcestershire over the past month-plus, adapting to English pitches in the process and made good on that time spent in the County Championship with a thundering century at Lord’s as an opener against Middlesex. His at-times maddening inconsistency showed itself when Head was out for just 2 at Hove—playing out a similar story as to the last ODI series between these two sides. Head scored just 130 runs in his four innings including an opening 96 at Adelaide in the squad’s only victory. As Head goes, so does the squad, but proceed at your own risk when inserting the 24-year-old in your side.
Allrounder - David Willey (England)
Far from the first name on the team sheet, Willey’s earned his place in the side with phenomenal results in the County Championship. In his last three List A matches for Yorkshire, Willey’s taken a pair of four-fors and 11 wickets overall with the ball and recorded a century and a half-century with the bat. While he’s never exceeded 26 with the bat in an ODI and taken just a single four-for in 33 ODI innings, the 28-year-old is in exceptional form and could prove crucial in the absence of Stokes and Woakes.
Bowler - Billy Stanlake (Australia)
After sputtering in the IPL with just four innings and five expensive wickets to his name, Stanlake showed his impressive pace at Lord’s against Middlesex in the second tour match, conceding at five an over and taking a pair of wickets in the process. With Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins all sidelined for the series, it will be on the inexperienced Stanlake (with just two ODI caps to his name and only seven List A innings) to act as the side’s strike bowler.