Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hobart now takes on greater meaning for England and Australia

With the naming of World Cup squads this week the focus has been sharpened ahead of the tournament that begins next month in India, Sir Lanka and Bangladesh.
For England and Australia, who meet in Hobart for the second of seven One-day internationals on Friday, it means those included will begin the preparations for the competition in earnest.

And if the first match at the MCG is anything to go by both sides have plenty of work to do if they are to be ready for their opening World Cup matches.

The fact Australia chased down an English record total on Australian soil hides the fact many of the players were below par – the outstanding Shane Watson aside, who put the distraction of the catastrophic floods in his home town to one side to hit a magnificent unbeaten 161 to guide Australia home. Anyone following the live cricket scores would have known the result was never in doubt going into the last few overs.

Should Watson fail this time then the rest of the Aussie line-up will need to display more aptitude and aggression than on display in Melbourne – Michael Clarke's timid 36 from 71 balls was indicative of a side low on confidence and form after that bruising test defeat by England.

England aren't immune from blame either though after their batsmen, Kevin Pietersen aside, squandered an excellent position at 174 for 3 where 300+ seemed inevitable, to finally limp home with 294 on the board. People following the Livescore Goalwire would have been disappointed with the final total.

Their bowlers too failed to threaten on a consistent basis, meaning Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad won't have to worry too much about regaining their places when they return to Australia in the next few weeks.

The dumping of Steven Davies for Matt Prior shows the selectors can display a ruthless streak should a player not perform.

And so the players must be aware that simply being named in the squad isn't a guarantee of starting against the Netherlands on February 21st and their performance against the Aussies in Tasmania will be closely watched with interest.

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