England's male cricketers completed their preparations ahead of the start of the tri-series one-dayers in Australia, with an encouraging sixty-run success yesterday over the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra. Although the standard of the opposition was not as high as they can expect when they face the full Australian team tomorrow in Sydney nor the Indians later in the tournament, the side will welcome any opportunity to improve their recent dismal one day record.
Ian Bell looks to be in fine form in his latest incarnation as an opener at present, a step up from his more normal position slightly down the order. His belligerent knock of 187 runs from only 145 balls demonstrated an appreciation that England need a stronger initial run-rate to succeed in the ODI format, something that they have been accused of not doing particularly well in the last few years and more. The score also surpassed Robin Smith's previous record for England's highest ever one-day score (though his knock of 167 fifteen years ago against Australia is still their international record). Ably assisted by Moeen Ali's quickfire 71 off 49 balls and James Taylor's equally handy 71-run contribution, the visitors helped themselves to a mammoth total of 391-6 from their fifty overs.
It always looked to be a tall order for the hosts to make that size of total in the second innings, but they were not overawed as they too put the bowlers to the sword. A glorious innings from Glenn Maxwell of 136 may be a sign of things to come when they face the full Australian side, but his impressive striking in 89 deliveries was still not enough to deny England. The Prime Minister's XI were finally all out for 331 as the run-rate became unsurmountable, with just over an over to go. The economy rates for most of the English bowlers were unexceptional, apart from a 4-40 stint from Stuart Broad.
The tri-series runs from January 16th until the final on February 1st, with England obviously hoping to qualify for the final but primarily using the competition to take a good look at their squad ahead of the ICC World Cup. After tomorrow's opener against their Ashes' rivals, England move on to face the awesome Indians at the GABBA on January 20th and then play both other nations once more (with matches in Hobart and at the WACA), prior to the composition of the finalists being determined by the two teams with the best record across their four ODI matches.
The ICC #Cricket World Cup itself will be held across Australia and New Zealand from February 14th through to March 29th, with a series of round-robin matches followed by the knockout stages afterwards for the qualifiers from the group stages. With 14 nations competing across 14 different venues, and 49 matches to be played in total (26 in Australia and 23 in New Zealand), it will be one of the largest international sports' competitions in the world. #CelebritiesThere was encouragement elsewhere in the southern hemisphere for a former England first eleven player yesterday as well, with the welcome news that Jonathan Trott had scored a tremendous double century for the Lions against South Africa A in Paarl. England will surely look to re-integrate the South African-born player back into the first eleven at some time in the future, but for now he seems to be back enjoying his international cricket.