England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wkt), Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (capt), Marcus Stoinis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wkt), Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood.
Thanks to Nick Moreton for pointing out this smashing article by the Guardian’s young sports writer of the year, age 7-9, Rebecca Close. A sensational idea, wonderfully done. Congratulations!
Australia are unchanged – so no Steve Smith for England to worry about. He’s still “a little big groggy.” Finch would have batted as well. It is breezy out there, his shirt rustling across his chest. Australia “mis-executed” on Sunday, he’s hoping for better today.
Sam Curran, most unluckily, misses out for Mark Wood. “Sam’s an extremely young, versatile cricketer but we’ve gone for extra pace.”
The bio bubble has its challenges and you can’t but think there will be an air of last day at school to today’s proceedings.
“It’s almost one day at a time…” said Justin Langer when asked yesterday. “it’s just when you start looking ahead to when we get home and then quarantine and how the summer looks and if you keep looking too far ahead, then it gets challenging.”
Jofra Archer, who has spent more days in the bio bubble than any other player, was more outspoken. “It has been mentally challenging. We’ve been here for 16 weeks. It is going to be more rare going home or being normal again. Here (OT) has become the new normal. We’ll have to adjust agains when we get some time off.”
They haven’t got long to rest – Australia and England’s IPL players fly to Dubai on Thursday to join their franchises.
Good early afternoon from Old Trafford, where the sun is high, the cabbage whites are having a last autumn flutter and England play their final match of this long, strange, covid summer.
And what a few months they’ve had – albeit tucked inside the bio-secure bubble – series wins against West Indies in the Tests (2-1), Ireland in the one-dayers (2-1), Pakistan in a Test series (1-0), Australia in the T-20s (2-1), a drawn T-20 series against Pakistan (1-1), and yet, after all that, this final game perfectly poised – with both Australia and England having won one game each.
Like all of England’s opponents this summer, Australia have had to arrive, bubble, and hit the ground running. After an easy win the the first ODI, it seemed they had made up for lost time, but the batting collapse on Sunday night will have pursued Justin Langer into the night. Australia hope to bring Steve Smith back into the team after his concussion scare, but Langer said Smith was “rusty” in the nets and a late call will be made.
England face a difficult choice of whether to bring back Mark Wood and Moeen Ali to replace to the Curran brothers, who couldn’t have done much more to retain their places. The pitch at Old Trafford is a new one, so Moeen could well miss out.
Other things to watch out for: Archer’s continued mastery over Warner, Sam Curran’s golden arm, Adam Zampa’s irresistibility, the Manchester DJ’s last tunes of summer.
Play starts at 1pm – see you there!