File photo of England batsman Jos Butler. (Getty Images)
With the ICC World Twenty20 just over six months away, the short series between Australia and England holds much more relevance than it would otherwise have after an energy-sapping five-Test Ashes.
The English Twenty20 squad, captained by Stuart Broad, will be minus most of the stars who helped retain the urn in a 3-0 Ashes win. Ian Bell, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen have been rested for this T20 series. That provides England an opportunity to test some new faces in preparation for the two limited-overs World Cups - the World Twenty in March next year and the 50-over World Cup in 2015.
George Bailey's Australian side, on the other hand, will look to improve their Twenty20 record - having won only 5 of the 19 matches they have played since June 2010. In that endeavour, Mitchell Johnson's return to Australian squad - after a successful IPL and Champions Trophy - could help reverse the team's fortunes. The English crowd, however, will take it as another opportunity to pick on their favourite Aussie character of late.
In the spotlight for England will be batsmen Michael Carberry and Jos Butler. Carberry, who has played a Test before for England, hit over 500 runs in the Friends Life T20 competition. And Butler will be closely analysed for his effectiveness in the limited-overs format.
Also in the English squad is Boyd Rankin, the Irish pacer competing for a place with Jade Dernbach. One of them will team up with Steven Finn and Broad as the pacers in the XI, with the spin department being handled by James Tredwell and part-timer Joe Root.
Australia have an 18-man Twenty20 touring party. Of them, Adam Voges looks a certainty unless Bailey decides to give Fawad Ahmed a debut. Voges, apart from his batting, brings with him an added skill of slow bowling. Glenn Maxwell is another Aussie in the same mould and should easily get himself into the XI.
Mitchell Starc's seam-up bowling has been more effective in the yellow and gold than in whites, which should earn him a place in the eleven on Thursday. Another choice Bailey will have to make is for the No. 3 slot - with Aaron Finch's limited-overs expertise and success likely to outweigh Shaun Marsh.
England: 1 Alex Hales, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Root, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Steven Finn, 10 James Tredwell, 11 Jade Dernbach
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Aaron Finch, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Adam Voges, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Clint McKay