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Aussie one-dayers a crucial confidence-building exercise
Make no mistake, England’s forthcoming one-day series against Australia is vital with the Ashes coming up in a year’s time.
It may be a different form of the game, but runs and wickets against the Aussies will give some of the players who have never played against them, people like Jonny Bairstow, plenty of confidence.
If you go back to 2004 when the two sides met in the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston, England won quite convincingly.
I was involved with the England squad that day, and it definitely gave them a massive boost to know they could perform against the likes of McGrath and Ponting ahead of the 2005 Ashes series.
On the face of it, it may seem like just another one-day series in an already busy schedule but it’s definitely one to look forward to.
In terms of Friday’s one-dayer against the West Indies at Headingley, which was eventually washed out without a ball bowled, I don’t have any problems with the England management resting players. It’s part and parcel of modern day sport, not just cricket.
England have a busy summer, including this Australia series and a Test and one-day series against South Africa, who are just behind them in the Test rankings.
With the series already won, it was the ideal time to give some of your key players a rest.
Obviously it’s important not to go resting seven, eight or nine because that’s not fair on people who have paid good money for a ticket. But two or three here or there is not an issue for me.
It doesn’t just happen in international cricket, you see it quite regularly in county cricket too. It happened with Ryan Sidebottom at the start of Yorkshire’s Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign.
Giving Azeem Rafiq the Yorkshire captaincy in Andrew Gale’s absence for the Twenty20s against Durham and then Nottinghamshire at Scarborough yesterday is a good idea.
Rafa’s shown signs that he’s got a really good cricket brain while doing the job at youth and second-team level. You need that to be a good captain because a lot of it is done on instinct.
We also saw a little bit more of that when he captained a first team on our pre-season tour in Barbados. That would have done wonders for him.
He’s quite in your face as a bowler and loud in the field. He also has an air of confidence in his ability, which will stand him in good stead.
But hopefully Galey will be back sooner rather than later from his injury because he’s crucial to our Twenty20 team.