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Miller relishing Australia challenge

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Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook's England have won their last six ODIs. "We are certainly going in the right direction," said national selector Geoff Miller

National selector Geoff Miller believes the NatWest Series against Australia will provide the perfect test of England’s progress in the one-day arena.

Alastair Cook’s side go into the five-match rubber having won their last six one-day internationals, against Pakistan and West Indies, while the 2-0 triumph over the latter also represented a sixth successive series victory on home soil for England.

Australia remain the number-one ranked side in the world in the 50-over format, however, and are sure to present a stiff examination of England’s credentials.

“We are certainly going in the right direction,” Miller told this morning upon the announcement of an unchanged 14-man squad. “This is a good opportunity to measure what the progress has been.

“I think the public will be anticipating a super series, which we are as well, especially with our recent form and their world standing.”

Miller is satisfied with England’s strength in depth at present, but explained the reasons for sticking with the same group of players who impressed against the Windies.

“It’s a normal process, the consistency of selection that I keep hammering home. You show faith in a side that is performing well,” he said.

“There are quite a few knocking on the door in all different areas, both with bat and ball. That’s exactly what we want and we also have that in Test cricket.

“We want to find out whether they are international quality or not and we can do that with competitive games for the Lions as well.”

England opted to rest three members of their squad - Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann - for last week’s final ODI with the Windies, which was ultimately abandoned without a ball bowled.

On that occasion a series victory had already been secured and Miller added: “Those sort of decisions are always taken with the best interests of the side in mind.

“We have got to ensure that we can remain competitive in all formats. I think the players understand that a rotation policy is necessary; they are naturally disappointed if they are not playing for England, but we have to manage their workload.”

Fifty-over captain Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara are both set to get an early look at Australia’s attack, having been released to play for Essex in the tour match against Michael Clarke’s men at Chelmsford on June 26.

“It’s an opportunity for them to see what Australia are like, but I think we know what we are going to be up against,” Miller concluded. “We are going to be up against a very good side, but make no bones about it, we are a pretty good side as well.”

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