Cricket Betting: New Aussies to shine
Johnson is the Aussies most successful bowler over the past year, with 39 wickets at 20.94
Going into the first ODI between Australia and England, Richard O'Hagan has taken a look at the Australian side and found some new faces who will sorely test England.
Things move slowly in Andy Flower's world. At times, it seems as if the pace of change is glacial. The Test squad has remained largely unaltered for years, the departure of Paul Collingwood the only real alteration since Flower came to power. The ODI squad, which is about to begin a five-match series against Australia, has an oddly familiar ring about it too. Even Kevin Pietersen's replacement at the top of the order, Ian Bell, is far from a new boy on the team.
Not so Australia.
For a long time now the Test side and the ODI one have had only a passing resemblance to one another, and for this trip they have decided to mix the old and established with the new and exciting.
If this Australian side has a weakness, it is in their bowling attack. While Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus are familiar names who provide the experience alongside the likes of Pattinson and Cummins, it will come as something of a surprise that Johnson is the Aussies most successful bowler over the past year, with 39 wickets at 20.94. That they are putting a man whose mental disintegration against England eighteen months ago is so fresh in his memory - let alone the Barmy Army's - forward as the leader of their attack says much about their faith in the others in the party. Such is the lack of confidence in him as a player anywhere outside Australia, you can reasonably expect him to be available @ Betfair odds of around (4.9) to be Australia's top wicket taker over the five games.
Lee, of course, remains a threat, albeit one diminished by time. Now aged 35, he needs only two more wickets to overtake his old partner Glenn McGrath as Australia's all time leading ODI wicket taker.
However, his bowling average in England of 25.02 is significantly higher than his career average of 23.08 and yet the burden of carrying the attack really does rest with him and Johnson. Of the other front-line quick bowlers only Hilfenhaus has played an ODI in England before and his career average alone is over 36. While the young fast men have shown a lot of promise to date, they are going to have to learn quickly.
If anything, the spin bowling department is in even worse shape, consisting as it does of Test cast-offs Steve Smith and Xavier Doherty (who average 31.80 and 34.31 respectively) plus captain Michael Clarke and ODI stalwart David Hussey.
That, in itself, heaps a burden upon the last two, both of who will be expected to shore up the middle order batting. Clarke has thrived since taking on the captaincy. His batting average as captain is 57.03 compared to 45.74 as a humble foot soldier, whilst his bowling average plummets over ten runs per wicket when he is in charge and, at 28.50, arguably makes him the premier spinner in the side. You would expect him to be around 4.3 to be Australia's leading batsman in this series.
David Hussey, on the other hand, will be a man on a mission. England will know all about his exploits in these conditions having seen him as a formidable opponent in all three forms of the game when playing for Nottinghamshire over the past decade. Earlier this month he was rewarded by being awarded a full central contract by Cricket Australia, despite being over 34 years old now and the number of contracts being cut back to the extent that even T20 captain George Bailey was not given one.
While this opens up hopes of Hussey finally making a Test début, he will be keen to show that he can move his county form in England into the international arena and England must be wary of him.
At the top of the order England might a find relatively new pairing in David Warner and Matthew Wade. Warner has enjoyed some success in England as a short term player for Durham and Middlesex but he made a duck on his only previous visit to the crease on these shores as an international, against Scotland in 2009.
Wade is the latest to don the mantle of 'the next Adam Gilchrist' and has shown some promise, but an average of a touch over 24 and a high score of 67 in this format show that he is vulnerable and he managed only 46 runs from five innings against the West Indies in April, his only series outside of Australia. At the time of writing it's unclear whether it will be Shane Watson or Wade partnering Warner at the top of the order. If it's Wade, Watson will bat at three. If it's Watson, Wade will bat at seven.
All of which is what makes this five-match series so intriguing. In most international cricket matches you can point to key match-ups across the two sides, but in this contest it is more about the mismatches.
England's controlled and reliable opening partnership against Australia's erratic one.
England's young middle order against the tried and tested Aussie double act of Clarke and David Hussey (brother Mike misses the series for family reasons).
England's fast bowling attack which selects itself against Australia's pick and mix approach.
Australia are marginal series favourites at (2.12), but really England should be much shorter than (2.30) given the relative strengths of the sides and the fact that Australia have so many players unfamiliar with English conditions.
Best Betfair Bet
England to win the series @ Betfair odds of (2.30)