Eoin Morgan‘s side will play five matches in the space of 15 days against the tourists, who are back in action for the first time since the calamitous tour of South Africa earlier this year.
Here, we take a look at five talking points ahead of cricket’s oldest rivals going head to head.
STRONG AND STABLE
England arguably plumbed new depths at the last World Cup when they exited in the group stages with barely a whimper. Their subsequent transformation has been nothing short of remarkable and six series wins on the spin have taken them to the top of the ODI rankings, though defeat to Scotland was a wake-up call.
While there are plenty of vacancies in the Test team, England’s 50-over side almost chooses itself with only one or two spaces possibly up for grabs. A largely settled line-up is one of the reasons why they are strong contenders to go all the way at next year’s World Cup on home soil.
HALES FOR STOKES?
There will be one enforced change, at least for the start of the series, as all-rounder Ben Stokes recovers from a hamstring injury. However, England’s deep reserves of talent mean no squad member is irreplaceable.
Stokes’ well-publicised legal issues precluded him from England’s ODI series win in Australia earlier this year and, on that occasion, Alex Hales was brought in to further bolster the top order. The Nottinghamshire big-hitter will likely do so again unless England opt for a different approach and choose Sam Billings.
AUSTRALIA’S NEW CHAPTER
This tour marks the start of a new era for Australia, who are seeking to rebuild from the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa earlier this year that led to the suspensions of captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner.
The tourists are further weakened by the absence of injured fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, the trio whose presence proved so instrumental in the Ashes. England would have been favourites had the quintet been available but are more overwhelmingly so now.
THE ‘L’ WORD
Australia’s talk of the ‘line’ was as ubiquitous as it was much-maligned and even toxic during the Ashes, so there was a fair degree of schadenfreude when their misdeeds in South Africa were exposed.
Australia have attempted to draw a line under the controversy but captain Tim Paine and new head coach Justin Langer have insisted that Australia will continue to sledge on the field. Indeed, Langer claimed that sledging is in Australia’s DNA but warned: “There’s a difference between banter and abuse. There’s no room for abuse anywhere.”
England are only six months removed from their tour of Australia, where they bounced back from their Ashes humbling to clinch a hugely impressive 4-1 series victory on the ODI leg of the tour. There is some logic to the England hierarchy’s apparent prioritising of the white-ball formats, especially with the 2019 World Cup in mind, but another 50-over series between these teams seems excessive.
Plenty would have preferred a decider against Pakistan after an entertaining two-Test series was left tantalisingly poised at one win apiece.
Ed Smith’s first major decision as national selector was to end Buttler’s 18-month exile from the longest format, convinced he was too talented to be confined merely to the limited-overs disciplines.
Fresh from a scintillating stint in the Indian Premier League, an in-form Buttler rewarded Smith’s judgement with a man-of-the-match display at Headingley as England drew the two-Test series against Pakistan.
Confidence should therefore be oozing out of the belligerent batsman’s pores as England turn their attention towards five one-day internationals in 15 days against Australia.
Buttler has been a prominent, even pivotal, figure in England’s white-ball metamorphosis from also-rans to the top of the International Cricket Council’s ODI rankings.
Series against Australia and India this summer should give England a clearer indication of how they are shaping up ahead of next year’s World Cup on home soil, for which they are strong contenders.
And England’s wicketkeeper-batsman is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a hugely exciting summer,” said Buttler, who is expected to return to the fold for Wednesday’s first ODI at The Oval after being rested for Sunday’s clash with Scotland in Edinburgh.
“Moving into the white-ball (matches), we’ve been playing some really good stuff.
“We’ve got to number one in the world, and Australia and India at home are going to be two massive tests.
“It’s an exciting couple of months coming up.”
Buttler’s recent rise began in India, where he has sometimes struggled to impose himself on the world’s grandest T20 stage – as a record of one fifty in his first 31 IPL contests would suggest.
But a move from the middle order to opener acted as a catalyst and scores of 67, 51, 82, 95no and 94no for the Rajasthan Royals saw him equal Virender Sehwag’s IPL record of five consecutive half-centuries.
There were not too many dissenters to his Test recall but there was plenty of discussion about whether a lack of first-class cricket would hinder his chances of success.
The early evidence suggests it will not as he followed up a defiant 67 at Lord’s with a mesmerising 80no in Yorkshire from the number seven position.
However, Buttler, who averaged a modest 31.36 from his first 18 Tests, must once again get used to being a man for all formats.
His last international century came against Australia earlier this year during England’s 4-1 series success Down Under – with his 100no from 83 balls comfortably the slowest of his five ODI tons but arguably his most mature innings.
And having proved his worth in the Test side, Buttler is on track to make this a summer to remember in his more natural white-ball environment.
The historic victory over England in the one-off one-day international in Edinburgh is a massive statement from Scottish cricket, says Calum MacLeod.
The former Durham and Warwickshire batsman starred with an unbeaten 140 as the Saltires claimed the biggest result in their history by beating England, who went into the game ranked number one in the world.
It is barely three months since they were at a low ebb after seeing their 2019 World Cup dreams dashed by bad weather and an umpiring call, rubbing salt into the wounds after the ICC decided to cut the number of participating nations at next year’s tournament.
Scotland went into the game against England with a point to prove, and sealed a famous win in dramatic fashion, posting 371 before successfully defending the total in the penultimate over of the match and emerging triumphant by just six runs.
MacLeod admitted the win would go down as one of the best for the team.
“I reckon it is up there,” he said. “This win has been coming for a couple of years since Grant (Bradburn) and Kyle (Coetzer) took over and pushed the aggressive cricket you saw.
“We showed we were capable of this last year against Sri Lanka and then to take the step up to beat a full England side, number one-ranked in the world, is a massive statement from Scottish cricket.
“It does not take away what happened in Zimbabwe and everyone’s feelings about the 10-team World Cup but this was a special day.”
He added: “We want more games. That is the bigger shop window rather than personal side of it. If the ICC and other international teams look at this game they will see we are not an add on. This should be a catalyst for more games.
“Anyone here or watching could see the energy from the crowd and what passion there is for cricket up here.”