England go into the opening one-day international in Melbourne on Sunday desperate to salvage some pride, but face a torrid task with a fired-up Australia vowing no let-up after dominating the Ashes.
The first of five matches, a day-nighter, is the first opportunity to see how the shell-shocked tourists progress from their nightmare Test series, with captain Alastair Cook demanding an improvement, and quickly.
“I am desperate to try and turn it around,” he said after the 5-0 Ashes whitewash. “When you strip everything down, every single player has to go back and have a look at themselves, have a look at their techniques. Have a look at the way they’ve bowled and start rebuilding again. And that hunger has to come from within.”
The series could see either team reclaim the number one limited-overs world ranking, depending on how India fare when they face New Zealand in a five-match series that begins in Napier on January 19. India are currently the top-ranked one-day team in the world, followed by Australia and England, with all three building towards next year’s 50-over World Cup. A rattled England head into the series without the experience of Kevin Pietersen and Jimmy Anderson, who have both been rested, with Cook leading a team that has much to prove.
He also needs to rebuild dressing room discipline with Test wicketkeeper Matt Prior on Thursday saying that during the Ashes, the players had shown a lack of respect for both the captain and coach Andy Flower — who is reportedly at odds with Pietersen. Former left-arm spinner Ashley Giles has taken over from Flower as the one-day coach, assuming responsibility with Cook for repairing some of the damage inflicted by Australia.
Only all-rounder Ben Stokes and paceman Stuart Broad came out of the Ashes with a semblance of pride, leaving the door open for the likes of Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Ravi Bopara and Chris Woakes to stake their claims in the one-day format.
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