Bird Predicts Tight Series Ahead of England's ODI Opener at The Ageas Bowl

Hampshire and Australia fast-bowler Jackson Bird looks ahead to England's first Royal London ODI against Australia next week

Having regained the Ashes in emphatic style during an exciting test series, England’s battle against Australia is far from over. With the Royal London One-Day Series beginning next week at the The Ageas Bowl, limited overs captain Eoin Morgan will lead England as they face off against their fierce rivals once again in the 50-over format.

After defeating a strong New Zealand side in a five-match series back in June, including a hard-fought contest at Southampton, England return for the first fixture of the series hoping to secure an important victory.

Hampshire’s very own Australian, Jackson Bird, however has different ideas. The overseas fast-bowler, who has made three test appearances for his home-nation, including an ashes appearance back in 2013,+ believes that Australia’s squad has what it takes to come out on top against the home-side.

“England had a fairly new squad in the series against New Zealand and they performed really well throughout that series, especially after New Zealand reached the World Cup final not long before that. I think Australia is probably in a similar position to the one England were in a couple of months ago so I think it’ll be a good, tight series – but hopefully Australia can make amends for the Ashes.”

“It’ll definitely be a close call and both squads look really strong so it should be a great series and that first game here should be key.”

Bird, who featured prominently during the last edition of the Big Bash and the Sheffield Shield, is familiar with a number of those named in the squad and feels the new additions can make a positive impact.

“With seven new guys in the squad it gives those who have performed well domestically and in the Australia A tour a good opportunity to show their skills and see how they go in international cricket.

“I’ve played against and with a lot of them – recently me and Marcus Stoinis were part of the Big Bash together – it’s particularly good to see him and the other guys get a go because they are all really great cricketers. It’s also good to see Ashton Agar back too after a good season last year so hopefully he’ll do well. This series is a good opportunity to press claims for a regular spot in the side.”

Australia have enjoyed a positive 18-months in white-ball cricket having won the World Cup back in March whilst also sitting at the top of the ODI rankings.

Despite several alterations and additions, Bird remains confident that Australia have the resources in the 15-man squad to match England throughout each contest.

“If the bowlers were all fit and if certain guys weren’t being rested then I think the squad would look pretty similar to the one that won the World Cup but it isn’t going to stay the same forever and you need to see how the next group of international cricketers handle things at that level.”

The 28-year-old seamer has featured prominently in county cricket for Hampshire and during his first season in the country he has learnt to adjust quickly to English conditions.

Understanding and adapting to these conditions and in particular the playing surfaces is something that has been important to him and could prove to be important for the visiting side.

“Playing on the wickets here in the county cricket, I’ve learned quickly that the wickets used for the shorter-formats and limited-overs competitions are pretty flat and generally good wickets. Even though it moves around here more than perhaps back home, you need to be scoring bigger totals than ever to stand a good chance of winning.

“You need batters at the top of the order that can adapt to the moving ball and really make an instant impact still, guys like David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and others. I think players like that complement the others in the squad well so I think Australia have a well-rounded squad for the conditions and heading into the first game here at the The Ageas Bowl.”

Tickets for England’s first ODI against rivals Australia at the The Ageas Bowl can be purchased online via www.eticketing.co.uk/ageasbowl, over the phone on 0844 847 1863 or in person from the The Ageas Bowl Ticketing and Membership Office during normal working hours.  

Words: Will Brewster

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