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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

We are still early enough into this current arrangement with Cricket Australia to anticipate this one-day series with some excitement.

Between Tuesday and 5 July England and Australia will contest five one-day internationals.

It helps that the Test series this summer was restricted to two matches against Bangladesh, and they will return soon enough for three of their own ODI games against England.

England playing Australia in 2009
it is unlikely that anything that happens over the next fortnight will be even remotely in anyone's thoughts or have any bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the Ashes

But bear in mind these matches against Australia represent only a tiny fraction of the 31 ODIs scheduled between the two teams (not counting the World Cup) between the end of last year's Ashes, and the next in England in 2013.

It will be the public that do the talking, in terms of ticket sales in 2012 in particular, but surely I cannot be alone in being severely critical of the two boards who, by staging so many matches against each other, are cheapening cricket's most anticipated contest.

England versus Australia: it used to be something special. By the end of 2013, we will all be sick of the sight of each other.

Of course this series will be a means of talking up the Ashes this winter; not that it needs it.

We do not need reminding that it was Australia's unsteady performance in the one-day matches which preceded the 2005 Ashes that destabilised Ricky Ponting's team, and any early blows struck here might seem important at the time.

But the reality is that come 11am on 25 November at the Gabba in Brisbane, it is unlikely that anything that happens over the next fortnight will be even remotely in anyone's thoughts or have any bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the Ashes.

Of more importance is England's preparation for the World Cup. I was mighty impressed by their attitude during the World Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean, and I was not alone.

When men like Sunil Gavaskar come up to you and rave about the team - led by Paul Collingwood - and their prospects of success on the subcontinent, you have to take notice.

606: DEBATE
battingforbell

And that is the platform they must build on now. Andrew Strauss's position will be minutely scrutinised. Twenty matches is a long run in which either to cement your place or for it to be entirely undermined, and that is England's run-in between now and the World Cup.

Strauss was not merely out of the team, but had no realistic prospect of returning to it until he became captain. His role has given him more confidence, but from his 100 games, Strauss averages 32 with a strike rate of only 77.

The World Cup will be about flat pitches, attacking starts and big totals, and Strauss has to show that he is the right man to open the batting in those circumstances, otherwise the selectors must do the right thing and replace him with Collingwood.



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White hundred sets up Aussie win
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England ease to win over Scotland
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Irish blow chance to beat Aussies
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Anderson unsure of England role
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Kieswetter retains one-day place
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Uncapped Hazlewood in for Johnson
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Australia in England 2010
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Live cricket on the BBC
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