Cup holders see value in rivals' reckless method

Australia captain Steve Smith acknowledges their Ashes foes might have provided the blueprint for their World Cup defence

It's a measure of how far England have come since their humiliating World Cup exit in 2015 that the team who won that tournament, Australia, now believe their Ashes foes have set the blueprint for their title defence in the UK next year.

Having watched his side slip to a five-wicket loss at the MCG on Sunday night, their eighth defeat from their past nine completed one-day matches, Australia captain Steve Smith lauded England's destructive batting that has stunned the cricket world since they were unceremoniously dumped out of the group stage of cricket's showpiece event.

And Smith said his team could fall behind their oldest cricketing rivals if they don't adopt the same carefree and reckless approach that has underpinned England's 50-over batting since Australia lifted the World Cup trophy at this very stadium almost three years ago.

First ODI wrap: Roy's perfect 180 sinks Aussies

"England's got to be up there as one of the best teams in the world in one-day cricket at the moment," Smith said after a record-breaking 180 from opener Jason Roy guided England to their first major win of this tour and a 1-0 Gillette ODI series lead.

"It looks like the way they play is for everyone to go really hard and Joe Root is sort of the rock in the middle. He just plays good cricket and guys bat around him.

"That works for them and it's something we might have to think about as well. Having guys that are going really hard and having someone, it might be me, who just bats normally.

"I guess when you do that, perhaps you're going to have days where you get bowled out for not many. But you back your players to come off more often than not and get those big totals.

"That's what the English players are doing at the moment. They're playing with such freedom and have really good game plans."

Rampant Roy smashes records in MCG epic

Having pleaded with his batsmen to bring an end to the middle-order stumbles that have led to their recent slide down the world rankings, Smith was left to ponder how his players had done exactly as he'd asked but still fell well short of an England side that has won seven of their past eight bilateral series.

With the score at 3-78, Australia were seemingly just one or two wickets away from falling into the exact hole Smith had warned about pre-match and repeatedly over the past 12 months. But a century stand between Aaron Finch (107) and Mitchell Marsh (50) not only pulled the hosts away from danger, it put them on course for an unbeatable total.

But the dismissals of Finch and Marsh in the 36th and 38th overs proved to be a setback from which they never recovered, despite a 40-ball innings of 60 from the impressive Marcus Stoinis that pushed the score to 8-304 from 50 overs.

Finch fires at the MCG with a fine hundred

It put Smith in the unusual position of regretting the fact his side had set a victory target that, while nowhere near enough, had never been chased down at the MCG before.

And lamenting that Finch, his best-performed player in the match, hadn't turned an excellent century into something more substantial.

"If a couple of batters stayed around for a little bit longer and gave us the chance to really go hard at the back end, we probably could have got up around 340, which was where we needed to be," he said.

"It was pleasing (Finch and Marsh) were able to form a nice partnership. They played some good cricket for that period there. They hit the loose balls, hit the ball to the areas that they wanted to hit it to and rotated the strike really well.

"That's what they needed to do in the middle overs and try and take it a little bit longer.

"That's the disappointing part of it. We had our chance to set ourselves up to get a big score, or what I thought was par, around 330. But we just weren't able to do it tonight."

Stoinis stars with scintillating knock

It was a summation that Finch, who posted his ninth ODI century, agreed with.

"It's probably on me at the end of the day," the opener told Optus Sport's Stumps.

"If I had gone on to 160 or 170 like Jason Roy did, we post 350 and probably put the game to bed. We left the game up in the air a little bit. 

"I think most of my hundreds recently have been between 105 and 120. It's just about being ruthless, getting that 150-plus."

Marsh carries fine form into ODI series

The message from the Australian camp has been that this series is a chance to narrow their focus ahead of their World Cup defence which, after an indifferent 18 months in 50-over cricket, is less than a year-and-a-half away.

They have four more matches in this series, and five in the northern summer, to get a closer look at the team many believe is setting the standard.

And the team they might need to replicate if they’re any chance of claiming their sixth world title.

2017-18 International Fixtures

Gillette ODI Series v England

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Cameron White, Adam Zampa.

England ODI squad: 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.

First ODI England won by five wickets at the MCG.

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21

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