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Root fit but no Stokes for England

England's Test captain has recovered from a viral illness and will play in Melbourne, but Ben Stokes will play no part in the series.
Joe Root has recovered from gastroenteritis and is expected to play

England will be able to call upon Joe Root for the first ODI against Australia after the Test captain recovered from the viral illness which forced him to retire on the last day of the final Ashes Test. Root was taken to hospital with gastroenteritis in Sydney 10 days ago as his side succumbed to a 4-0 defeat and he sat out of Thursday's five-wicket warm-up win over a Cricket Australia XI, but one-day skipper Eoin Morgan confirmed that he should be fit to play the series opener in Melbourne on Sunday.

"Joe should be fit to play," Morgan said. "He's a versatile player who can score in any strike-rate that is required. He's extremely important. He's been a fantastic leader within the group and on top of that there is the weight of runs that he's scored and the manner that he's scored them."

Root, England's Test captain, has made it clear he is keen to play for England across all three formats. His record of 4,000 ODI runs at an average of 50 and strike-rate of 87 shows just how valuable he is in the 50-over format.

England's squad includes seven players who were involved in the Ashes defeat, but only four - Root, Dawid Malan, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow - played all five Test matches. But while they might be chastened by their recent experiences in Australia, the likes of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Sam Billings and David Willey have all been gearing up for the series by playing T20 in the Big Bash.

Adil Rashid took 3/45 in England's five-wicket warm-up win over a Cricket Australia XI
Adil Rashid took 3/45 in England's five-wicket warm-up win over a Cricket Australia XI

England are without all-rounder Ben Stokes, who will play no part in the series while he waits to see if he will face any charges for an incident in Bristol on 25 September. Although Stokes' absence is a blow, Morgan believes his side can adjust. Roy and Bairstow are likely to continue their opening partnership, meaning Alex Hales could bat at No.3. 

“Ben is a fantastic player," Morgan said. "We will miss him but we know he is not going to be part of this series so we can address the balance of this side. It gives clarity to everybody in the team. It creates a lot more calm around the periphery.”

Australia, who are third in the ICC ODI rankings, have competition for places in their batting line-up. With Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade dropped, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and the recalled Cameron White look set to compete for two batting places, while Tim Paine will keep wicket.

"The middle order is probably where we've had a bit of an issue," Australia captain Steve Smith said. "Guys up the top have been scoring big runs, the middle order is a key area for us to focus on. We need runs out of that middle order and in particular wickets in hand so we can have an onslaught at the back end. That's something we haven't done, we've been losing too many wickets in the middle overs and not getting partnerships together and that's something that we need to work on."

The first ODI of the five-match series begins on Sunday 14 January.

Squads:

Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith (capt), Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, AJ Tye, Jhye Richardson, Cameron White. 

England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Tom Curran, Mark Wood, Dawid Malan, Alex Hales, David Willey, Sam Billings, Jake Ball.

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