Steve Smith: Australia to counter-attack against England in Royal London Series

It was their opponents England who discovered to their distress last February and March that the world had moved on.

While Eoin Morgan's team have since reinvented themselves, and already beaten Australia's fellow World Cup finalists New Zealand this summer, the tourists have undergone a transformation too.

Steve Smith takes charge of his first series as one-day international captain, having also succeeded Michael Clarke in Test matches following Australia's Ashes defeat this summer.

Alongside him, he will have only four team-mates who got the better of the Kiwis in Melbourne on March 29.

Smith must therefore retune to a new task, and plenty of variables.

It is the progress England appear to have made, however, which is perhaps his biggest concern.

"They've got a couple of new players in, and the way they played against New Zealand was really good," he said.

"They took the game on.

"I think Moeen Ali said the other day they're trying to play quite similarly to the way we play, so we know what they're going to do.

"We just need to be 'on' from ball one and make sure we can counter-attack what they come at us with."

Smith is mindful of the break Australia have had in their ODI schedule, but discounts any negative impact from losing the Ashes.

"We haven't played a lot of one-day cricket obviously since the World Cup, where we were very successful - so it's about us getting out there and making sure we're doing the basics well again.

"It's a completely different format (to the Ashes). I think our boys are ready for the challenge."

Australia know what to expect from England, and will be well-briefed how to respond.

"Obviously England played really well against New Zealand in their recent one-day series, so we know how they're going to play," Smith added.

"They're going to play that same positive brand of cricket they've been playing.

"We've got to make sure....we're challenging their defence.

"They're going to come quite hard, so we're going to get opportunities....we've just got to make sure we take those opportunities."

The five-match series, starting with a day-night fixture at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday, will be an early indicator of the importance or otherwise of new playing regulations.

Smith, like his opposite number Morgan, does not expect an extra outfielder in the last 10 overs to restrict ever-increasing totals significantly.

He said: "I think they might come down a little bit. But I think you see these days, in T20 cricket for instance, guys can go over 10 an over for the last 10 overs."

England may have relatively few batsmen left to take advantage by that point - they were bowled out in only 45.2 overs on their last visit to this venue, but racked up 302 on the way to a three-wicket defeat against New Zealand.

Australia, it seems, may be employing slightly different tactics.

"If you've got wickets in the shed anything is possible," said Smith.

"That's our plan anyway, to make sure we've got wickets in the shed (so) we can go quite hard at the back end.

"The guys are so strong these days they can clear the rope with five out."

Whatever the gameplan, the Australia captain is ready for a stern test as the world tries to knock his team off their perch.

"I think they've come a long way in the last little bit," he said of England.

"We're a very good one-day side. We're number one in the world at the moment, and we're certainly going to be hunted."

  Steve Smith is out to protect Australia's world-beating status against England
Steve Smith is out to protect Australia's world-beating status against England