Gillette ODIs v South Africa

Fond memories fire Aussie hopes

Australia's last ODI win came in Adelaide last January, and Aaron Finch is hoping the venue will bring a return to the winners' circle

Andrew Ramsey, at the Adelaide Oval

08 November 2018, 08:57 PM

Finch tips changes to XI for Adelaide ODI

Having tinkered with personnel and preparation for more than a year in search of a winning prescription, Australia hopes their return to a happy place might prove the catalyst to snap a losing streak in ODI cricket that has now stretched to an unprecedented seven matches.

The reigning world champions' most recent one-day victory came nine months and 13 days ago – on Australia Day this year – when they defeated England by three wickets in a low-scoring contest at the Adelaide Oval.

Tomorrow's return to Adelaide for the second of the three-game Gillette ODI Series against South Africa, which the Proteas lead 1-0 after last Sunday's six-wicket win in Perth, affords Australia a return to familiar surrounds, if not altogether happy times.

Captain Aaron Finch said today the make-up of a team that has barely six months to find a formula for success before their World Cup defence begins in the UK, won't be revealed until the coin toss ahead of tomorrow's day-nighter.

Zampa is in contention for an ODI return // Getty
Zampa is in contention for an ODI return // Getty

However, if batting mainstay Shaun Marsh continues to show the improvement he displayed in the nets today following minor surgery earlier in the week, he is expected to return to the starting XI as is local leg-spinner Adam Zampa.

If that's the case, then explosive left-hander D'Arcy Short, who was a late replacement for Marsh in Perth last Sunday, seems likely to make way while one of the four seamers deployed in the series opener will be replaced by Zampa.

Given that last January's win over England – the solitary victory Australia has enjoyed in its past 12 ODIs stretching across 13 months – was set up by new-ball pair Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins who reduced the tourists to 5-8 inside the first hour, they both mount a strong case for retention.

England suffer incredible early collapse

Regardless of the line-up that Australia takes into tomorrow's fixture, Finch acknowledges that securing a win represents the quickest and simplest means of lessening the scrutiny that has been squarely focused upon Australian cricket – on and off-field – during recent weeks.

"I think at times it's probably affected guys," Finch said today.

"When we talk about confidence in the batting group, it's about not letting outside distractions affect your game.

"There's been a lot of media about Cricket Australia recently. A lot of media about our batting.

"I think if you can put that to one side and focus on the next ball and really make sure that you're committed to watching the ball and being 100 per cent committed to your partnership, I think that'll go a long way towards turning things around quickly."

Finch reassured Australia's supporters, as well as answering their critics, that the string of losses which has overtaken the six defeats in a row recorded in late 1996 as the longest losing sequence by the nation's men's ODI outfit, is not for want of practice.

Under coach Justin Langer and selector-on-duty Greg Chappell, the squad underwent a five-hour training session at Adelaide's Karen Rolton Oval on Wednesday afternoon before completing a further two-hour top-up program at Adelaide Oval this morning.

'We've got the bowlers to go through SA'

Finch said the rigorous schedule, which reflects Langer's work ethic and desire to restore confidence and faith in the team after a tumultuous six months, was far from a punishing slog and carried a feeling of freshness and enjoyment despite the hours spent on the track.

"We've been doing it quite a bit actually, especially a couple of days out from the game, just doing a lot of drilling as batters," he said of the extended training routine.

"Drilling the basics, working on a couple of things, particularly against spin, using our feet and using sweeps and developing our own techniques and ways to go about that.

"And then a lot of centre-wicket scenario-type stuff, which is always really good fun.

"It's a bit different to just the old traditional nets (where you) get in there and face (bowlers) for 20-30 minutes then you're out again.

"It brings a little bit more game scenario, match awareness to the session as well."

Watch all 10 Australian wickets

The heightened focus on combatting spin comes after veteran South Africa leg spinner Imran Tahir claimed 2-39 from nine overs in last Sunday's game at Optus Stadium, and the 39-year-old is expected to pose an even greater threat on an Adelaide pitch likely to offer more encouragement to spinners.

Which means Zampa, who has played in only one of those seven consecutive losses and has worked diligently through the Australia winter to return to the ODI line-up, could also wield an influence if included in the starting XI.

"He's been exceptional since he came back in (to Australia's squad)," Finch said of Zampa today.

"It was unfortunate he didn't get his opportunity in Perth based on the wicket, but he's someone we're looking at as a genuine wicket-taker.

Got to keep foot on the gas: du Plessis

"The importance of wickets in the middle overs, in T20 and one-day cricket, is so important your spinner plays a huge role in that.

"From what I've seen so far in our centre wicket stuff and nets, he's a lot more consistent than he was.

"He's always been reasonably accurate but now he's very accurate and spinning the ball a lot more which is so important."

Australia v Proteas, Gillette ODI series, November 2018

First ODI: South Africa won by six wickets

Second ODI: Adelaide Oval, November 9

Third ODI: Blundstone Arena, Hobart, November 11

Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa

South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn.