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There are few things more pleasurable for an English sports fan than seeing an Aussie nose rubbed in the dirt, and today they have that opportunity as the two countries meet in the first of five One Day Internationals between now and Sunday week.
Last month England regained the Ashes in a curiously topsy-turvy series, and on Sunday they beat Australia in a one-off T20 international in Cardiff. Beating the world champions of 50-over cricket would cap a wonderful summer for English cricket but it will be no easy task, particularly as history is against them.
The victor of the last five Ashes series has gone on to lose the one-day series, and certainly if what went on in February's World Cup is anything to go by England don't have a chance. Eliminated at the group stage, England returned home humiliated while the Aussies went on to crush New Zealand in the final.
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Coach Peter Moores was subsequently dismissed and when England played New Zealand in a one day series in May it produced five of the greatest 50-over matches ever seen in this country as England cast aside caution and played with a new panache. Not only did English smash 1,617 runs in the five matches against the Kiwis, they struck 209 boundaries, the most by a team in a five-match series, and passed the 300-run mark in three of the five matches.
And England's ODI captain Eoin Morgan is promising more of the same as England prepare to take on Australia at the Aegeas Bowl in Southampton. He told the BBC that he was "not interested in playing dull cricket", and added: "We will play smart cricket but at the moment we will take the game to the opposition. It is about us trying to get the most out of ourselves and push the boundaries with everything we do."
England have rested Joe Root (their most prolific run scorer during the Ashes series) but have included all-rounder Moeen Ali, absent from the series victory over New Zealand. Australia, who swung from the sublime to the ridiculous during the Ashes series, will be captained for the first time in a full series by Steve Smith and are expected to give ODI debuts in the coming ten days to batsman Joe Burns and all-rounders Ashton Agar and Marcus Stoinis. "The way they played against New Zealand, they played really well," said Smith of England. "We know how they will come out, play the up-tempo, positive style of cricket."
But Smith sounded a warning to England ahead of the series opener, reminding the opposition of who they are up against. "We are number one in the world, just won the World Cup, so hopefully we can continue having success."
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