England are aiming to end an extraordinary season overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic with a win over Australia as their arch-rivals await Steve Smith’s fitness. Victory at Old Trafford on Wednesday would see the 50-over world champion England take the one-day three-game international campaign 2-1. It would also mean that they had not lost a series of any form in 18 games this summer. All those matches have been played behind closed doors, with players from England tucked away in bio-secure bubbles in Manchester and Southampton for the better part of three months.
“When you play against Australia you always want to win and there is always plenty at stake, but it would be very good for us to finish at a high level this summer,” said Chris Woakes, England’s new ball bowler. , who recognized that bubble life had its “tough times”.
Australia hopes to have Smith available. The star hitter missed the first two ODIS after being hit on the head during practice last Thursday.
Team management has repeatedly said that Smith, who was struck down by a 92 mph bouncer from English fast bowler Jofra Archer during the Ashes Test at Lord’s last year, has been rested as a precaution despite passing two concussion tests.
– ‘Follow in the right direction’ –
Australian coach Justin Langer, speaking before Smith hit the nets on Tuesday, said: “He’s definitely heading in the right direction, so we hope he’ll have it right for tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Marcus Stoinis is lining up to lose weight, but Woakes, although wary of “world class” Smith, said: “It can be tricky getting in with not much cricket under your belt and having to perform from ball one. in a decision maker. “
Australia was on the verge of winning the series on Sunday without former captain Smith. But from 144-2, chasing 232 for the win, their last eight wickets for 63 runs fell in a dramatic collapse.
The defeat meant Australia had forfeited winning positions in all three formats against England in just over a year, starting with a remarkable one wicket loss in an Ashes Test at Headingley before ditching the opening Twenty20 of the current tour.
But Langer insisted, “I don’t think there’s any mental vulnerability there.”
Woakes said the fight back was indicative of England’s determination under captain Eoin Morgan.
“We have that character and the belief that we can win from any position,” said Woakes. “A few years ago we probably thought that we could only win from that position with the bat, while now we can also win with the ball.”
In the meantime, Langer’s confidence in David Warner was intact despite the Australian opener being rejected by Archer four times in a row and scoring only 12 runs in his last three innings.
“Jofra Archer is an incredibly talented bowler, but also David Warner: what a player,” said Langer, himself a former Australian.
“When he steps in, he scores hundreds in ODI cricket … He’s working overtime to qualify for the match.”
England want to keep an unbeaten run in the ODI series at home, dating back to defeat to Australia in 2015.
“Not having lost one in that time is a great achievement,” said Woakes.
“Of course you want to keep that going, but more importantly, you want to win this series and keep that record.”
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