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England and Australia have been engaged in battle for most of the summer, and they continue the One Day International Series this week with Australia in the box seat. The tourists have won the first two ODI’s to lead the series 2-0, but the latest victory over the weekend was shrouded in controversy after Ben Stokes’ bizarre dismissal.
Stokes was adjudged to have prevented the ball hitting the stumps with his hand after an Aussie appeal, but it is a decision that has split the cricket world, with the dismissal described as ‘nailed on’ or ‘ridiculous’ – depending upon which side of the fence your loyalties lie. There’s no doubt that it has added further spice to the rest of the series though, and England will be chomping at the bit to get back on the field and gain some revenge. They also need to win this game to have any chance of winning the series, and with Australia suffering injury problems, the time could be right to support England to bounce back and make the series more competitive.
The Story so Far
We backed the Aussies to win the first ODI, and they came through to win fairly comfortably by 59 runs at the Ageas Bowl last Thursday. We also tipped Eoin Morgan and David Warner to finish as top batsmen for their respective countries, and both went close – Morgan out-batted by Roy and Taylor, and Warner only out-scored by Wade. Australia won the toss and elected to bat, racking up a total of 305-6. England stuttered with the bat and were all out for 246 with 27 balls to spare.
We also tipped Australia to win the series, and took a punt on a correct series score of 4-1. That looks a distinct possibility at this stage, and England could be set to win the game this week and claw their way back into the series.
The second ODI on Saturday was steeped in controversy surrounding Ben Stokes unusual dismissal. He was called out after stopping a Mitchell Starc throw from hitting his stumps with his hand, but the decision has caused a huge split in the cricket world. Stokes had driven a Starc delivery straight back to the bowler and had left his crease; the quick-thinking Aussie pace bowler collected the ball on his follow-through and attempted to throw it at the retreating Stokes’ stumps. The England batsman stopped the ball with his left hand as he turned and tried to return to his crease. Aussie captain Smith chose not to withdraw Starc’s appeal, and after the decision was referred to the TV umpire, Stokes was given out.
Stokes became the first England batsman, and the sixth overall, to be dismissed for obstructing the field in a one day international. England captain Eoin Morgan said he would have withdrawn the appeal, but Aussie skipper Smith said that Stokes was ‘blatantly out‘ and that he didn’t regret his decision to uphold the appeal. However, Test Match Special commentary described the dismissal as ‘ridiculous’ as Stokes left the field to a chorus of boos aimed at the decision. Morgan also slammed the dismissal, claiming that it was ‘obvious’ that Stokes was protecting himself and not intending to obstruct the field.
In among all the controversy Australia went on to win by 64 runs. Having scored 309-7 they bowled England out for 245, despite Morgan’s very impressive 85. That leaves England 2-0 down in the series with their noses out of joint after the perceived injustice. Any team is at their most dangerous when they are fighting to undo the ‘wrongs’ of the previous game, and England are expected to be fired up for Tuesday’s game.
Australia have been hit with injuries over the course of the summer, and the bad luck has continued this week. Opener David Warner broke his thumb during the second ODI on Saturday and was replaced by Yorkshire’s Aaron Finch. Fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile has also joined the injury list with a hamstring problem, while all-rounder Shane Watson has called time on his international career after injury ruled him out of the rest of the series. John Hastings and Peter Handscomb join up with the squad for Tuesday’s game, but in total the Aussies have lost seven players since they started their tour in June.
England have elected to rest wicketkeeper Jos Butler for the next three ODI’s, and Jonny Bairstow will come in and take his place. Although inexperienced, Bairstow has a decent average in the games he’s played for England so far, and he shouldn’t significantly weaken the side. Indeed, Butler only managed 4 and 0 from the first two ODI’s and England coach Trevor Bayliss has said he will benefit from the rest. England will fight tooth and nail to win at Old Trafford on Tuesday afternoon, and they are worth a bet at a decent price to claw their way back into the series.
A Toast to Captain Morgan
Finally, it may also be worth sticking with England captain, Eoin Morgan, to be the top run-scorer with the bat. He had an extended rest this summer prior to taking the reins for this series, and has said that he feels refreshed and ready to play his best cricket. He was out-scored in the first ODI when we last backed him, but typically top-scored easily in the second game on Saturday notching a defiant 85, including four sixes, as he attempted to make a dent in the Aussie lead. Taylor was England’s next highest run-scorer with 43, and with Morgan in such good form he’s worth following to top score in Tuesday’s third ODI.
England to win Third ODI
Tuesday 8th September 14:00 GMT
Odds: 11/8 2.38 +138 1.38 1.38 -0.72
Eoin Morgan to be Top England Batsman
Tuesday 8th September 14:00 GMT
Odds: 4/1 5.00 +400 4.00 4.00 -0.25