Cricket Australia, England: Matt Prior Returns As England Look To Level Series

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Cricket Australia, England: Matt Prior Returns As England Look To Level Series
Tom Shaw/Getty Images
Matt Prior has made it back into the England side and must now deliver

There are two people who will be pretty pleased with themselves before this game even starts, but aside from Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and England wicket-keeper Matt Prior, there are 20 other players who need to step up their games if either side is going to be seen as a genuine contender for the forthcoming World Cup.

Prior admitted himself that he was surprised by his recall to the one-day team over both Steven Davies and Craig Kieswetter. Now he must produce a decent innings in Hobart to show that the selectors' indecision over who should wear the gloves in the shorter formats is now over.

Another man with something to prove at the Bellerive Oval is Nathan Hauritz. Controversially left out of the Ashes side, he now has secured his place for the World Cup ahead of Xavier Doherty and will be keen to show the Australian selectors what they have been missing for the last three-and-a-half months.

Both sides will be missing key players for this game. For England, James Anderson is still back in England on paternity leave and Graeme Swann has a knee problem, meaning that James Tredwell plays in place of Swann, and Chris Tremlett will play despite not making the 15 for India.

On the Australian side the problem is potentially more serious. Mike Hussey, the rock around which so many of their winning innings have been based, is out of the series - and possibly the World Cup itself - with a hamstring injury which required surgery this week. Shaun Marsh replaces him for this game, and it will be interesting to see whether he bats down the order or Brad Haddin - who didn't do a bad job as Watson's foil in Melbourne - drops out of the opening slot. There is also a recall for Shaun Tait, who missed the game at the MCG with a stiff back. He takes the place of Mitchell Johnson, who has a throat infection.

The second game of a seven-match series doesn't normally generate much attention, and this is one respect in which the ICC's insistence upon the participating nations naming their World Cup squads ridiculously early has produced some benefit. Now that we know who is going to the tournament, this contest becomes a useful indicator of how two sides who should be major players will perform.

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