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Hopes predicts tough England test

NatWest Series

James Hopes

James Hopes is expecting a close contest when the NatWest Series gets under way

Australia all-rounder James Hopes has warned his side they will have to improve on their battling victory over Ireland when their NatWest Series against England gets under way next week.

Australia produced a rusty display in their tour opener in Dublin and at one stage looked set to suffer an embarrassing first defeat to one of cricket's minnows.

However, led by Hopes' career-best figures of 5-14, they turned it around and earned a 39-run win.

Hopes admits they are unlikely to get away with such sloppiness against an England side who are establishing themselves as a major force in the one-day game.

“We're going to have to get better because if we bowl like we did at the start and the English get into a position like the Irish did, they're a bit more experienced and probably would have put us away,” said Hopes.

“We've got to make sure we don't let it get out of hand early on. The game is 100 overs and if we do that, I think we're going to see some pretty good games of one-day cricket.

“There was a stage when panic could have taken hold, but our one-day team has been together a while now and we've got ourselves out of that situation before and we did again.

“It was good to play the Irish because they are a pretty good team - we have another practice match on Saturday (against Middlesex) and we know that a five-match series against England is going to be different to the seven-match series we played them last year when we beat them 6-1.”

Hopes is not anticipating the same dominance this time round, though, insisting it will be a closer contest against an England side brimming with confidence after their recent ICC World Twenty20 success.

“They have a bit of a different team this time round, they are coming off a Twenty20 win and they are playing in their own back yard in front of full houses,” he added. “I'm sure they're backing themselves to beat us."

Hopes also believes having Kevin Pietersen, who missed last year's series through an Achilles injury, in the ranks will be a major boost for Andrew Struass' side.

"If you add Kevin Pietersen back into their team – he wasn't there last year – I think they are going to be naturally more aggressive.”

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