England (probable): 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Tim Bresnan/Ravi Bopara, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Steven Finn, 11 James Anderson
Australia (probable): 1 Shane Watson, 2 David Warner, 3 Phil Hughes, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Adam Voges, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Clint McKay
The Broad View:
“Australia in crisis” was how one respected English newspaper saw it after their disintegration against India in their final Champions Trophy warm-up. An irredeemable batting display saw them bowled out for 65 by India and, to make matters worse, the chronic back complaint that ruled their captain, Michael Clarke out of this match, has yet to respond to treatment. Whether it is really a crisis will become more apparent at Edgbaston on Saturday, but Australia, winners of the past two Champions Trophies, could certainly be in better shape.
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Clarke therefore misses the first of 13 England v Australia clashes that will dominate a summer also containing five Tests, five ODIs and two T20s. He has not played a game since mid-March – the third Test against India – because of a weakness that has troubled him intermittently since he was 17, but he aggravated the condition on the long-haul flight from Australia. Australia should surely be looking for the best first-class flat beds they can find, even if the rest of the squad are put into cattle class.
George Bailey will stand in for Clarke with his usual affability. He can take consolation from the fact that the practice match against India will not appear in the official records because of the licence to play more than 11 players, and from a record which has seen Australia win their last six matches, including a 5-0 whitewash of West Indies.
England will find it a welcome change to be playing somebody different from New Zealand. They beat them 2-1 in New Zealand then lost by the same scoreline in England. It is time for a new challenge. It is not to decry New Zealand to observe that for many England fans the summer is about to begin for real.
Pitch and conditions:
England is enjoying one of its most settled spells of summer weather in recent years and it is set to continue over the weekend. That could negate the threat of two new balls as batting conditions are more comfortable than anticipated. The bowlers can expect some more unsettled weather, especially in Cardiff.