17 January 2011

Two sides with a couple of positions to finalise

As has been pointed out on King Cricket, a massive 7 ODI series just before the World Cup can only be assumed to be a set of practice matches for the two teams, allbeit in conditions completely different to the World Cup. England will be using the matches to finalise their best XI, and will soon announce their World Cup 15-ma squad.

Massive Collingwood fan though I am, I think they did the right thing dropping Collingwood. He'll definitely go to the World Cup and in those conditions his bowling will be an excellent option, far more so than in Australia. So there's even the possibility of him batting as low as 7 and still being an important part of the side as a core bowling option depending on the wickets. Certainly if I was picking between Wright, Bopara and Collingwood, for me it would be the ginga ninja every time. England have all but announced Collingwood will be in the World Cup squad so it's just a question of his role and whether he'll make the starting XI.

In some ways the 1st ODI will have done Collingwood's chances of making the World Cup 1st XI a lot of good, as he watched from the sideline. Jonathan Trott isn't as good a bowler as Collingwood so England had just the five realistic bowling options with Pietersen and Trott in reserve....no doubt that left Strauss feeling a little uncomfortable. They would definitely want to go in with Collingwood as the 6th bowler if they could find a way to make that happen.

So with that in mind I wonder if they have at the back of their minds that Eoin Morgan has done some occasional wicket-keeping. It's not something they will consider unless Davies has a very poor Australian series, but it may just surface if that is the case, and that would allow Collingwood to slot in at 6 and Strauss to have his 6th bowler. It's not ideal but you never know.

Although I think England are unlikely to spring a surprise with their World Cup selection, I would be considering Bopara carefully myself, but would very narrowly overlook him for Shahzad. So the 15 would be Strauss, Davies, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan, Bresnan, Yardy, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Collingwood, Shahzad, Tremlett, Tredwell (assuming Broad is fit). Woakes can consider himself unlucky and could still get a call up if there are injuries.

Australia, despite their brilliant victory are far less settled. Ponting is already injured and Mike Hussey is now struggling to be fit for the World Cup. And any side batting Steve Smith at 4 clearly hasn't got the right line up - he should have batted 7 on merit. What will Australia's 15 be? Assuming the selectors have got over their strange hatred of Nathan Hauritz, my guess is that they will ignore David Hussey unless his brother is injured and go with Watson, Haddin, Ponting, Clarke, White, Hussey M, Smith, Johnson, Hauritz, Lee, Tait, Bollinger, Paine, Doherty, Siddle. Personally, I'd find a place for David Hussey ahead of one of the pace bowlers, pick him ahead of Smith or Doherty, or go without Paine, but I'll be surprised if they do that (although I'm not sure what the rules are about replacing the keeper if he gets injured).

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