In any sport, the world champions would head into the next world cup expecting nothing less than the championship. But for Australia, it has been a tumultuous time on the ground and off it in the past 15 months. Steve Smith and David Warner went from being the beacons of what is a mediocre Aussie batting lineup to public enemy no.1 in the country. It would definitely go someway in rectifying their image if Aussies are to defy the odds and succeed at this world cup and defend their crown.
Looking at their line up there aren’t any pressing weakness having recovered well from losing their first home series to India in December. The batters seemed to have grown into their roles. Add to that two of the generations best in Warner and Smith, Aussies look strong on paper. Warner took back to the field like a duck to water. While Smith started too slowly. But now he regained the momentum. Smith is at his assured best now. Those two on the top form should in itself set the Aussies up for a good score. They have a couple of decent finishers as well. The Big Show, Glen Maxwell also has looked to be in good form coming into the World Cup. Keeper Alex Carey who on paper looks an upgrade on Tim Paine’s pain at the crease.
Shaun Marsh could well go down as the worst wasted talent of his generation if he is to fail again having been afforded yet another lifeline. But if he does well, much of his maligned past would be forgotten. Aaron Finch is the captain. He leads the batting line up too. When the need of the hour arises, Steve and Dave will be called upon. Therefore, there will no shortage of voices too.
Usman Khawaja has been the leader of sorts in Smith and warners absence in the test team batting. He would look to translate the form he has displayed so far to England’s pitches, something he had failed to do in the past, that is coming good away from home.
Marcus Stoinis could well be the x-factor for this lineup. He though an all-rounder isn’t as reliable a bowler as the 2015 finals matchwinner Faulkner was, nor does he seem the assured finisher that was mr.cricket or Michael Bevan. But he could well be what Australia tried and failed to do with the other Marsh. He can be a reliable Allrounder and a fifth option to share the ball with Maxwell
Going into the 2015 world cup, it was obvious that Australia had the best bowling line up. They were in a condition favoring them as well. This time it’s a different story. Their most experienced frontman Mitchell Starc has played thrice in ODI’s in past 18 months. Jason Beherendorff is a newbie. Coulter-Nile has been a perennial outsider in the squad with the abundance of talent around. Kane Richardson is the make-do that the selectors had to pick to fill in for his namesake Jhye’s injury.
Pat Cummins who was the third or fourth option in last world cup is the one the team looking up to this time around with Hazlewood being left off with an injury, looking eerily like the decision to leave Harris out during the last world cup. In spite of all this, there is no shortage of confidence or talent among the fast bowlers, but it could all come crumbling down if Injury strikes them (again) much like it has so many times recently.
What Australian’s will take confidence in is the fact that they have far better spinning options now than in the past 4 editions. In the past, Nathan Lyon’s ability to do well in ODI’s was a question mark. But now he is bowling well in the ODI’s too. Adam Zampa keeping up the upward trajectory he has had could well determine where the world cup ends up.
All in all, its been a rollercoaster of 15 months for Australia. The Sandpapergate. The resilience they showed in UAE. The series loss to India and the back to back series wins since then. Everything seems to have clicked in the right moment or has it?