CRICKER: They were outclassed in every facet of the game by Australia in the Test arena, but England are expected to prove much tougher opponents in this month's five-match one-day international series.
Three-years-ago England reached its nadir in ODI cricket, crashing out before the knockout stages of the World Cup in Australia, finishing fifth in Pool A behind Bangladesh.
Two months later coach Peter Moores was sacked, and shortly after that English cricket started a new era under the reign of Australia's own Trevor Bayliss.
Whether Bayliss has improved England in the Test arena at all is questionable, but there's no doubts they have come on leaps and bounds in limited-overs cricket, reaching the final of 2016's World Twenty20 and semis in the 2017 Champions Trophy.
England's march to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy was no fluke. Since Bayliss took over they boast the best win-loss ratio (2.384) in the world in ODI cricket, with India some way behind (2.062).
By contrast, Australia was knocked out in the group stage of the Champions Trophy - though they were not helped by rain - and have lost (21) nearly as many ODIs as they have won (26) in the past two years.
Nevertheless, Australia will go into this series as firm favourites.
While Steve Smith's side lost its most recent ODI series 4-1, in the last five years they have only lost six ODIs at home. It will take something special for England to become the first team since Sri Lanka in 2010 to win an ODI series in Australia.
First ODI - Sunday, January 14, 2:20pm EDT, Melbourne
Second ODI - Friday, January 19, 2:20pm EDT, Gabba
Third ODI - Sunday, January 21, 2:20pm EDT, SCG
Fourth ODI - Friday, January 26, 2:20pm EDT, Adelaide Oval
Fifth ODI - Sunday, January 28, 2:20pm EDT, WACA
Australia: Steve Smith (c), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Chris Lynn (to be replaced), Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, David Warner, Adam Zampa
England's bowlers will have their work cut out for them from ball one of the ODI series, with Australia's top three of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith among the finest top-orders in the world.
And England's batsmen won't have it any easier, with Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood all in Australia's squad.
It would be a surprise if the Test trio played all five matches, so the uncapped Jhye Richardson and Andrew Tye will have to step up when called upon.
With Chris Lynn ruled out, expect the Aussie middle-order to be stacked with all-rounders in Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
Recent history suggests Adam Zampa will yoyo in and out of the XI depending on conditions.
Likely first XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith (c), Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
Joe Root will still feature prominently for England in the ODI series but without the burden of captaincy, with Eoin Morgan wearing the figurative armband.
Expect Alex Hales to open the batting opposite Jonny Bairstow, with Jason Roy to miss out. Root and Morgan then make a devastating one-two punch in the middle-order.
Ben Stokes' absence will leave the tourists with a big hole at No.5, so the likes of Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali - who can breathe a sigh of relief that Nathan Lyon is not playing - will have to step up with the bat. No Stokes could free up space in the XI for David Willey too, who is a strong contributor with both bat and ball.
Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood bring extra pace to the attack, and leg-spinner Adil Rashid is a white-ball weapon.
If he has recovered from his sidestrain, expect Chris Woakes to play as well.
Likely first XI: Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood
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