England versus Australia
First T20, The Rose Bowl, Hampshire
Thursday Aug 29, 18.30BST
Live Stream: Sky Sports 2
TV info: Sky Sports 2, 18.00 – 23.30BST, highlights Channel 5, 00.00 – 00.55BST
England take on Australia in the first of two Twenty20 internationals at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire on Thursday evening in what will be good preparation for next year’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
Unlike with the five-day version of the game and the 50-over format, there are far fewer of these shorter-form contests for teams to get an idea of their tactics and personnel ahead of such global show-piece events.
This is why this upcoming double header will not be taken lightly by either side.
This was something touched on by national selector Geoff Miller when announcing England’s 13-man squad last week. Miller was quoted by the Guardian saying:
With only eight international T20 matches until the ICC World T20 next April, this NatWest series is an important chance for players to show they are capable of performing well at this level.
The two matches will also allow [limited-overs coach] Ashley Giles and Stuart Broad an opportunity to look at a number of different options
This squad combines players with plenty of international experience with players who have impressed at domestic level and who deserve an opportunity to test themselves in an international environment against a strong Australian side.
One of the players finally been rewarded for his outstanding domestic T20 campaign is Hampshire opener Michael Carberry. The 32-year-old was called up for the first time in this version of the game, although he did play one Test match for England in Bangladesh in 2010.
Carberry finished second only to Somerset’s Craig Kieswetter (517 runs) in the FLT20 season aggregates with 502 runs to his name. He will now be competing with Nottinghamshire duo Alex Hales and Michael Lumb to see who opens the innings on what is his home ground.
With England having sensibly decided to rest a number of their first-choice T20 stars, including the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and James Anderson, these two internationals will give a chance to a number of lesser-known lights to shine, in particular Warwickshire paceman Boyd Rankin and Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs.
Both contests, as well as the five-match ODI series with Australia, are a further step on limited-overs coach Ashley Giles’ eventual path to succeeding Andy Flower as supremo of the Test team, which according to some reports on Sunday could happen as early as January.
So far Giles has enjoyed an encouraging, if unspectacular start, to life in charge of the T20 team. England drew a two-match series in India before Christmas, then won 2-1 in New Zealand last February, before losing the rain-affected return series 1-0 in June.
The former Warwickshire coach will know that with just eight matches left until the World Cup gets underway in March, starting on Thursday, there is not much time left to finalise England’s plans going into that tournament.
It was, therefore, slightly disappointing not to see the name of exciting young Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes in the 13 chosen last week.
The tourists will be led by the always-impressive George Bailey. But this is a side ranked way down in seventh place in the current T2O world rankings, one spot lower than England, who just a short while ago were heading the standings.
It will be interesting to see if the Australian players who sweated blood and tears throughout the recent Test series will be given a rest in these two clashes, especially skipper Michael Clarke given his dodgy back.
However, we are sure to see the likes of T20 specialists James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade at the Rose Bowl and then Chester-le-Street on Saturday.
There could also be first T20 appearances, on these shores at least, for Nathan Coulter-Nile, Fawad Ahmed, Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell in one or both of the two internationals.
Head coach Darren Lehmann is also wrestling with who to take to Bangladesh next year as Australia go in search of the only global title to have eluded them so far.
England T20 squad
S Broad (Nottinghamshire) (capt), R Bopara (Essex), D Briggs (Hampshire), J Buttler (Somerset), M Carberry (Hampshire), J Dernbach (Surrey), S Finn (Middlesex), A Hales (Nottinghamshire), M Lumb (Nottinghamshire), E Morgan (Middlesex), B Rankin (Warwickshire), J Root (Yorkshire), J Tredwell (Kent), L Wright (Sussex)