Venue: Rose Bowl, Southampton
Date: Friday, September 4, 2020
England have been in great form in the white ball games as of late. The hosts may have lost the final T20I match against Pakistan on Tuesday, but that win by five runs was the only victory of any kind that the tourists picked up from their two months of bio-secure living in the UK.
Australia are the No. 1 ranked T20 team in the world – England are second in the standings – while the OSI portion of the tour will suit the hosts (the current 50-over world champions) much more so than an Australian team that is ranked just fifth in the ODI standings.
Australia has no real form to go off of as their last T20I match was the final contest of their three-match series against South Africa at Newlands back in February. The Australians won that series 2-1, but with Covid restrictions in place, their only warmup games for this series have been intrasquad friendlies between Team Finch and Team Cummins. The best batting performances in these scrimmages have been by Alex Carey, who was 50 not out in the third match and 107 off of 60 balls in the fourth.
England will have basically their first-choice squad to pick from here as the all-format stars that received time off after a gruelling schedule of Test matches limited-overs events. The one exception to this is Ben Stokes who is sadly still in New Zealand caring for his father who is suffering from brain cancer.
The depth that England have had to formulate through this late summer of cricket will stand the squad well in the coming years and players like Tommy Banton and Dawid Malan – players who would not be seen as regular internationals – are amongst those who have impressed.
Jos Buttler is back in the squad and he will be able to help steady the ship should a partial collapse in the batting occur. Stability is hard in a T20I match because of the need to attack, but Buttler is one of the best players in world cricket of balancing those two contradictory ideas.
The Aussies have a strong and deep squad for this tour so players are going to find it difficult to keep their place if they have a bad game or two. A couple of players to watch out for in the squad who might feature here are paceman Riley Meredith and batsman Josh Philippe. Philippe is especially exciting, a player who excelled in the BBL 2020 and who has averaged 33 of the course of his 32 T20s so far.
David Warner and Aaron Finch are known quantities with the bat that will provide tough outs at the top of the Australian order. Throw in Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, and the recently impressive with the white ball Marnus Labuschagne, and you have a batting order to compliment the bowling prowess of the old hands such as Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. England will know (generally) what to expect from Australia, but that won’t make it easy.
England has the feel of a more battle-tested team so their odds at BetXChange of 0.70 make sense. Australia, however, is a loaded and rested team with incredible batting prowess and pace all over their bowling attack. They are worth a punt as the 1.10 underdogs here.