Aussies eye catch-up on England cricketers

Australia will rely on four intra-squad club matches to try and make up for five months without cricket, with their next opponents England seven weeks back in.

Australia will bank on four intra-squad games being the best answer to England's seven-week head start on preparations for next month's white-ball series.

Australia had their first hit indoors on a wet English day in Derby on Wednesday before a three match Twenty20 series, as they get accustomed to cricket's biosecurity bubble.

The players have their own floor in hotels, with the accommodation built into grounds where they will both train and play.

Game rooms on their levels at different hotels include pool tables, video games, a basketball area and even a Formula One simulator.

Mats have been put on the ground in Derby to allow players to hit golf wedge shots as some form of recreation.

On the field though, Australia have a bigger challenge.

England have been playing since the start of July, with intra-squad matches, Tests against Wests Indies and Pakistan as well as ODIs against Ireland.

In comparison, Aaron Finch's team hasn't featured in a match since playing the first closed-doors event of any sport in Australia in March.

Australia's first squad game will be this Friday in Southampton, before three more follow next week.

And Finch said those would prove crucial in getting rust out and having Australia as possible for next week's T20 series opener.

"It just comes down to our professionalism and preparation," he said.

"We are going to give ourselves every opportunity to hit the ground running in that first Twenty20 match.

"You can only control what you can control.

"I know guys will be feeling their way back into playing competitive cricket. We also have to understand that."

Australia have 21 players on the tour, with a fill-in from Hampshire to make for 11 players on each side.

The move mirrors that used by selectors before last year's Ashes, where 22 players fought for spots in the Test squad.

Finch has been determined to get back on the field, believing the T20s and three-match ODI series in Manchester that will follow are crucial for the good of the sport.

But he insists that even in a pandemic and with the home T20 World Cup postponed, the main priority is still winning.

The Australians have a No.1 world ranking to protect in the shortest format,.

England are able to topple them if they win at least one of their upcoming clashes with Pakistan and sweep Australia.

Finch also has one eye set on the 2023 ODI World Cup in India, after Australia's form dropped away at the end of the summer.

"We want to win. That goes without saying," he said.

"Having got to No.1 in the world in T20 cricket we want to stay there and keep improving on our game.

"We feel our game plan has been really solid for quite a while and we're really comfortable how that looks for various conditions and opponents."