England vs. Australia: Key Players to Watch in NatWest Series

Christopher AtkinsContributor ISeptember 6, 2013

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 03:  Australia batsman Aaron Finch picks up some runs during the One Day International between Scotland and Australia at the Grange on September 3, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Australia's tour of England comes to an end in the next fortnight, with the two sides set to play five one-day internationals to decide the NatWest Series.

A full list of fixtures and ticket information for the coming matches can be found via the ECB website.

Following a disappointing Ashes showing, the series will carry extra incentive for Australia under captain Michael Clarke, and the tourists will be hopeful of regaining some initiative ahead of England's trip Down Under in November.

Both sides also will be looking to trial new faces as preparation begins for the 2015 Cricket World Cup and, of course, no series between the two nations is ever taken lightly.

Who, then, could be the key players in deciding the outcome of the 2013 NatWest Series?

Aaron Finch (Australia)

The man of the moment for Australia, Aaron Finch has smashed two enormous hundreds in his last three innings—including a world-record 156 against England in a Twenty20 international in Southampton.

That innings was followed up with a tremendous 148 against Scotland in a warm-up fixture this week, the Victorian demonstrating some of his famous "Finch hitting" once he had brought up his century.

His record in ODIs is poor to date, averaging 15 from his seven appearances. However, the potential is there for the destructive batsman to become a major player for his country in the shorter forms of the game.

Arriving into the series in great form, he will hope to make his case for a permanent opening spot over the coming days.

Michael Carberry (England)

Hampshire batsman Michael Carberry returns to the England setup, having been strangely overlooked for the recent Twenty20 series.

The 32-year-old opener's form is very good. He played a remarkable innings to score a Twenty20 hundred against Lancashire early last month and then went on to score 146 for England Lions against Bangladesh A, once more in a limited-overs tie.

Carberry averages 47 in one-day games for his county this summer and will now hope to prove himself at international level ahead of England's tour to Australia.

He has long been on the fringes of the England setup, but now has the opportunity to really stake his claim for regular inclusion.

Michael Clarke (Australia)

Australia captain Michael Clarke has had a torrid summer dealing with the travails of his side in defeat to England in the Test match series. However, his personal form with the bat has been good.

A magnificent 187 at Old Trafford will live long in the memory, while his bold field placings and bowling changes also drew praise in the media.

Averaging a little under 45 in 50-over internationals, Clarke's record as a batsman is among the very best in world cricket and his side will look to him for vital runs in the coming days.

His slow left-arm spin could also be a useful option to have in reserve, having taken 56 ODI wickets at an average of 38.

Kevin Pietersen (England)

A quite brilliant batsmen, Kevin Pietersen is the man England regularly turn to for match-winning contributions in all forms of cricket.

Pietersen has bludgeoned nine centuries in ODIs, placing him second only to Marcus Trescothick in England's all-time list, per Cricket Archive. Last month, he also became England's record runs scorer in all forms of the game, per the Daily Mail.

The 33-year-old comes into the series in decent form, having scored a century and three fifties in the recent Test series between the two sides. He has the potential, though, to do even better.

England may turn to Pietersen for the odd spell of off-spin over the course of the series, but it will be as a batsman that he will hope to prove decisive once more.

Mitchell Johnson (Australia)

Australian fast bowler Johnson takes an enormous amount of stick from the English crowd when he visits British shores, having failed to perform to the best of his abilities in previous Ashes encounters.

Having taken 195 one-day international wickets at an average of 25, though, he has proven a top-class performer for Australia in the 50-over game.

A return of 4-36 devastated the Scotland batting lineup in a warm-up fixture earlier this week and, if he can maintain that form into the coming series, England will be in some trouble.

The Queenslander is also a decent performer with the bat and, with two ODI fifties to his name, could help swing games in Australia's favour if he can pick up quick runs late in the innings.

Boyd Rankin (England)

Former Ireland international Boyd Rankin made his ODI debut for England against his former colleagues this week, taking 4-46 to make an immediate impact for his new side.

His ODI record as a whole is good, having taken 47 wickets at an average of 30.5. He will hope to now improve on those figures with better bowlers at the other end to keep up pressure on batsmen.

A tall and powerful figure, Rankin generates good bounce and is generally reliable in terms of bowling a good line and length. His debut Twenty20 fixtures for England, also, were encouraging.

Rankin has chosen to switch allegiances in a bid to play Test cricket and he will know a good showing in the coming days could speed up his ascension to the Test side.

*All statistics courtesy of ESPNCricInfo