Australia captain George Bailey believes his team’s recent domination of England in one-day internationals will count for nothing when the two sides meet on Saturday for their Cricket World Cup opener.
Top-ranked Australia followed an emphatic 4-1 series win in England last January with a one-sided tri-series victory at home this month to make it the clear favorite to get its tournament off to a winning start at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
”I’d love to say (the past record) counts for something, but I honestly don’t think it does,” Bailey said Friday. ”England has made some really positive changes to the way they play and their structure, and I personally think they look really dangerous.
”Unfortunately we all start on zero tomorrow.”
Australia has won 13 of 15 ODIs against England over the past four years. The record in Melbourne is even more imposing, with England losing eight of its last 11 matches at the MCG – its last win coming in 2007.
The MCG is expected to hold a near capacity crowd of around 90,000 for the match.
”There’s a lot of talk about a big crowd, a big tournament and a big clash to kick it off,” Bailey said. ”All things that the boys are very, very excited about.”
England paceman James Anderson too was relishing the occasion.
”I’ve played here a few times before and I know the atmosphere that 90,000 fans can create, and as a cricketer you want to play in games like this,” he said. ”You want to play before big crowds and show off your skills and your talent, and hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”
”We’re guessing that the majority (of the crowd) will be against us, that’s something we are prepared for,” he said. ”If we start well we know we can quieten most of them.”
Australia’s test captain Michael Clarke will skip the match as a precaution as he makes his way back from hamstring surgery, but coach Darren Lehman has no doubt he’ll play Australia’s second match on Feb. 21 against Bangladesh.
”We’re happy with the way he’s pulled up and really happy with his progress,” Lehman said. ”We’re going to stick to the plan and he’ll play against Bangladesh.”
England has had a testing time since arriving in Australia last month, beating India to advance to the one-day tri-series final, only to suffer a resounding 112-run loss to Australia. Its form in warmup matches has been mixed, with a nine-wicket win over the West Indies followed closely by a four-wicket loss to Pakistan.
England captain Eoin Morgan maintains that his team can produced an upset.
”One change in things that we’ve started to turn around since we’ve come here is learning to adapt with what we do well in Australia as opposed to what anybody else does well,” he said. ”If we can produce, what I believe, is our best cricket on Saturday we’ll be able to beat Australia.”
England has failed to put it all together in the lead-up to the World Cup, but there have been encouraging individual performances that hint at what is possible.
”Ian Bell has hit a great run of form, he’s class when he gets going and scores at a rate at which we feel applicable to score in Australia,” he said.
”Moeen Ali obviously plays in the fashion that he does, when he’s at his best he scores at better than a run a ball … if we click together as a side, we can put a score on the board that’s significant enough to win a game.”