Tomorrow England will take on Australia at Lords in the first of the three Ashes ODIs. Six Ashes Points will be up for grabs. Just to recap the teams are level on 2 points each after the drawn Test at Wormsley last week.
The 50 over format is more familiar ground for each of the teams, neither of whom play any multi-day cricket apart from the Test Match against each other every couple of years. England will be back in their red strip and the Aussies in their green and gold. Both have had a recent run out and I was at the Australia v England Academy game at Wellington College on Saturday. In a rain-affected match the Aussies won comfortably having scored 303/6 in their 50 overs with three other batsmen retiring. Alyssa Healey opened with Meg Lanning. Healey looked in good touch and will have enhanced her chances of playing tomorrow. Lanning was not quite so comfortable to start and was missed twice by the Academy, before she became more fluent and hit some cracking fours over extra cover off the slow left-armer Rebecca Grundy. The other batsmen that stood out was Ellyse Perry, who hit the ball very cleanly and with a perfectly straight bat. England need to be wary of her with willow in hand, as well as ball. Jess Cameron surprisingly looked out of touch and could not get her timing going.
All the Aussies bowled pretty well - Perry, Schutt, Hunter, Ferling, Coyte and Osborne but none of them looked unplayable on a decent wicket. For the Academy only Danni Wyatt (39) was able to make a decent contribution. Amy Jones flattered to deceive at the top of the order, after an ordinary day behind the stumps, and Jess Watson hit a battling 29.
In between fielding stints the Aussies worked on fielding one-to-one with their fielding coach and did various sprint tests. After the game they also stayed on to do more work. No-one can doubt their work ethic.
England are likely to field a pretty similar side to the Test team with Holly Colvin coming in for Danni Hazell and possibly Nat Sciver coming in for Arran Brindle or Jenny Gunn. England may also look at giving Lauren Winfield a go instead of Tammy Beaumont, possibly to open with Test heroine Heather Knight.
England will have their work cut out against the World Champions, who must start as favourites, but they do not look unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination. England need their top five to all contribute and possibly have the stronger overall bowling attack. I think they might just sneak it.
The game is not being televised, but you can watch a live stream on the ECB website (www.ecb.co.uk) and on their YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/ecbcricket), if you cannot get along to Lords. Unfortunately I cannot be there myself, nor at Hove on Friday, but I will be listening to Charles Dagnall and Co on TMS. I will be back tweeting and blogging from Hove for the final ODI on Sunday.