Mitchell Starc begins in the corridor, full and fast. Jason Roy shoulders arms.Â He is pinned by theÂ second, a big inswinger that hits the bottom of his thighpad. Poor decision from Martin Saggers to raise his index finger. It didn’t even hot his pad. Swing for Starc to the chronically undercooked Roy who inside edges three pushes, one of which goes for two, the other two to the infield. He middles the last but steers it along the ground to point.Â
Jerusalem ends. And Mitchell Starc, who passed a fitness test this morning, marks our his run.Â
If he were playing. But he isn’t. Tom Curran replaces him, Sam Curran comes in for Moeen Ali who posed no threat with the ball at all on Friday. It’s hard for off-spinners with a lop-sided ground with one short boundary … and only two left-handers in the top eight.Â
It’s a gorgeous day in London and glorious at Emirates Old Trafford, too. Bright sunshine and max temperatures of 22C. The sticky pitch may dry out while England are batting (they’re using the same pitch as Friday’s tacky one), which would suit Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.Â
âSteve passed both assessments, but we have decided to rest him as an extra precaution in line with our high level of focus on duty of care to all players.â
Aaron Finch didn’t say why he has been left out. As written below, the expectation was that he would return from his concussion to play this match.Â
1 David WarnerÂ 2 Aaron Finch (captain) 3 Marcus Stoinis 4 Marnus Labuschagne 5 Mitchell Marsh 6 Alex Carey (wk) 7 Glenn Maxwell 8 Pat Cummins 9 Mitchell Starc 10 Adam Zampa 11 Josh Hazlewood
1 Jason Roy 2 Jonny Bairstow 3 Joe Root 4 Eoin Morgan (captain) 5 Jos Buttler (wk) 6 Sam Billings 7 Sam Curran 8 Chris Woakes 9 Tom Curran 10 Adil Rashid 11 Jofra Archer
The wicket is the same one used on Friday, and unlikely to have changed much in character. Moeen Ali has been left out for tactical reasons and Mark Wood isn’t fit enough after his exertions on Friday.Â
Steve Smith will relish the challenge of bowlers trying to « bump the hell out of him » when he returns from a concussion scare to face England in the match starting at 1pm, according toÂ AustraliaÂ team-mate Mitch Marsh.
Smith was a surprise absentee from the series opener on Friday, with captain Aaron Finch revealing he had sustained a blow to the head while facing throws from a member of coaching staff in the nets.
That immediately brought to mind the sickening strike to the neck he received from a 93mph Jofra Archer bouncer during last summer’s Ashes, which led to Test cricket’s first concussion substitution.
The 31-year passed his initial assessment but was left out as a precaution pending a follow-up test, which also came through clear on Saturday.Â Australia’s medical team will continue to monitor him, but only an unexpected setback will stop him taking the field at Emirates Old Trafford.
Australia’s rapid pace attack will not be going easy on him in training and England’s express duo of Archer and Mark Wood are unlikely to pull their punches in the middle either. And Marsh believes that is just how Smith would like it.
« The Steve Smith I know will probably ask guys to bump the hell out of him, he loves the contest, » said the all-rounder.
« Anyone that bowls 150kph, he loves the challenge, so certainly there will be no backing down from Steve, I know that 100 per cent for sure. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.
« I hope he’s back tomorrow and hopefully he’s feeling better. It was a good decision in the end, there’s no need to take unnecessary risks – certainly with head injuries. Any time you have Steve Smith coming back into the team is a great feeling. »
Having kicked off the three-match series with a dominant win,Â AustraliaÂ have the chance to take an unassailable lead over the world champions.
Having lost 5-0 and 4-1 in their last two attempts against their rivals, that would represent a considerable breakthrough for their 50-over cricket.
« Our one-day team has been under a little bit of pressure of late, so it was really nice to respond with a great win, » said Marsh, who made an important 73 to help his side to a winning total of 294.
« We know we are only one away now from a series win so that’s a big carrot for us. We spoke in the changing rooms straight after the game about how they are the number one team for a reason – they bat deep and always come at you, so we’ll have to be ready for that and make sure we are up for the fight tomorrow. »
Strike bowler Mitchell Starc suffered some soreness in his upper leg after slipping in the outfield in the previous match and a late decision will be taken on his fitness.
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