Have you seen the fixture list? With the MCG test in the books, England only have one more first class international game (the fifth Ashes test at Sydney) this winter. I suggest you enjoy the red ball cricket while it lasts, because the next three months are going to be one giant white ball love-in.
Traditionalists who like things old school are not going to be impressed. England are set to play five ODIs against Australia, then at least four T20’s in a triangular series against Australia and the Kiwis immediately afterwards, followed by a further five ODIs in New Zealand in late February-March.
Sadly there isn’t going to be any more red ball international cricket until 22nd March when England play the first of two (yes only two) test matches against the Black Caps. By which time the English domestic summer has basically already started.
When Tom Harrison the England Cricket Board’s CEO gave his depressing interview on Cricinfo last week – it’s compulsory reading if you haven’t yet seen it – he claimed there would be no review into England’s Ashes defeat even if we lost 0-5. Instead he claimed there was still plenty to play for this winter. What he meant by this, of course, were the white ball contests that the board seems to care about so much. I doubt winning these games will prove adequate compensation for the fans but it’s something to cling onto I guess.
However, although I’m concerned about the white ball stuff cannibalising the red ball game, I’m still of the opinion that limited overs cricket is better than no cricket. Therefore, I’ll actually be looking forward to these matches. They’re not exactly The Ashes but they count for something. After all, winning on Australian shores is always pleasant no matter what the occasion.
If England can actually field a decent bowling attack – one hopes that Adil Rashid’s leg-spin will provide some much needed variation – I’m optimistic that we can be successful in coloured clothing. Our batting has plenty of firepower these days, and we might surprise a few Australians who still regard England’s one-day cricket as anachronistic.
There’s also the possibility, of course, that Ben Stokes might make a return at some point too. Whatever the morality of Stokes’s predicament, I for one will welcome him back into the fold. His stint playing for Canterbury wasn’t a huge success, but he’s a big game player and one would expect him to rise to the occasion in front of the large and hostile Australian crowds.
Although Australia are always a competitive one-day team, and they’ll probably start as 5-3 favourites or something like that, I’m pretty confident that we can beat them. Click here to get the 888 Sport review if you fancy a punt. You get a free £30 bonus when you create a new account and deposit £10.
I wrote about the Big Bash for the 888 Sport blog a couple of years ago and it was good fun. It forced me to watch a lot of Australian T20 that I normally wouldn’t watch. The experienced taught me quite a lot about the standard of Australian domestic cricket: it’s ok but nothing special.
The Aussies have some exciting talent coming through but I’m not sure there’s much strength in depth. Guys like Luke Wright, who don’t get close to England selection these days, seem to enjoy success in the Big Bash; therefore I’d expect our better players like Jos Buttler to take Australia by storm.
I doubt the Aussies realise just how much batting talent the England white ball teams have these days. They might just find out over the next few weeks.
Written in collaboration with 888 Sport.