Can Australia lift their sixth World Cup Title?
Gone are the days when nations used to tremble in the fear of facing an Australian men’s cricket side. From 1999 to 2007, the Kangaroos were so dominant in their game that hardly any opposition could get the better of them in the ICC events.
Fifteen years later, Australia is still a dominant faction of World cricket with five World Cup titles, a World Championship mace, and a World T20I title but not as ferocious as they used to be on the field. The Test championship and T20I title were earned in the past couple of years, making the cabinet look ultra impressive.
Despite all the glitters, everything ain’t smooth for the current WTC champions. They suffered five consecutive ODI losses in the lead-up to the World Cup, a plethora of players were under the scanner and some of them are still battling wounds. But Australia being Australia, they found a way to peak in the bigger stages. And none can write off this particular nation in the game of bat versus ball.
Pat Cummins ©, David Warner, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis, Alex Carey, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron Green, Sean Abbott, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa
Heavy top-order batting: An Australian batting order that constitutes David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, and Glenn Maxwell in the batting order would trouble any bowling line-up in the world.
In the absence of injured Travis Head, the opening combination is likely to witness an explosive duo of David Warner and Mitch Marsh that offers a left and right-hand combination. The former wears a wealth of experience playing in Indian conditions and enjoys his batting in India while the latter has evolved into a white-ball beast.
Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne at three and four personify poetry in motion. They form the wall of the middle order and are great players of both spin and pace. Following them is the matured and explosive Maxwell who’s coming off an injury. If the Big Show gets going, the opposition bowlers can feel the heat at the moment.
Lethal bowling attack: The fast-bowling trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood along with Adam Zampa have been the heart and soul of Australian bowling. They carried the team on their shoulders together for almost half a decade.
If we throw some light on the numbers, Starc and Zampa have a bowling average of less than 25 in ODIs while Cummins and Hazlewood have a bowling average of just under 28 in the same format.
Moreover, this bowling attack covers a lot of bases including- a left-arm quick, a pacer with a very good accuracy rate, a right-arm pacer who can lead the attack, and a wrist spinner who can regulate the innings and attack the opposition on his own will.
With the addition of Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, or Marcus Stoinis playing as the bowling all-rounder along with Maxwell’s part-time spin bowling, Australia’s bowling attack looks lethal on paper.
Inconsistent lower middle-order: In the last four years often Australia have got good starts in ODI contests but failed to capitalize on them. The same happened during the final ODI against India as well. Despite the fifties from the top-four batters, the lower order failed to up the ante during the slog overs.
The likes of Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, and Sean Abbott have scored inconsistent runs for the team. There have been good individual performances from the aforementioned quarter but it has come in patches. This is one certain grey area where the Australian management has to put some extra labour.
Lack of prominent spinners: Zampa is the primary spinner of the Australian squad. He is likely to be supported by Maxwell who announced his international return with a four-fer in the third ODI against India.
Earlier, Ashton Agar was a part of the squad but failed to meet the deadlines of fitness and therefore had to be replaced by Labuschagne. Also, Travis Head is recuperating from a fractured hand and the Aussies may be missing some part-time spin from the 29-year-old.
However, when playing in Indian conditions, there could be a requirement for an extra spinner at certain venues such as Chennai, Lucknow, Delhi, etc. Certainly, Smith and Labuschagne can roll their arms but a left-arm bowler is missing from the puzzle.
However, Australia have included Tanveer Sangha and Matt Short as travelling reserves who could make the most out of spinning conditions if acted as an injury replacement.
Chance to reign supreme: Under the leadership of Cummins, the Australian cricket team won the 2021 T20I World Cup and the 2021-23 World Test Championship. Adding another trophy would mark a statement from the Nation from Down Under.
There used to be a time in the early 2000s when Australia dominated the cricket world across formats. Be it the T-20 format, the ODI format, or even red-ball cricket, they were a master of all arts.
Here’s yet another opportunity for the Kangaroos to announce their formidability in this particular sport. Winning the 50-over format World Cup would mean three world titles in as many years for the Men’s side.
Injury setbacks: Various players of the Australian cricket team have been nursing injuries for the past six months. Maxwell and Starc missed out on the South Africa white-ball tour due to similar reasons and even missed the first couple of ODIs against India.
In addition, Head suffered a fracture in the hand during the Proteas tour but the management backed him to be available midway through the tournament. Agar failed to recover from the reoccurring injuries and had to be substituted by Labuschagne. Also, renowned characters such as Smith and Cummins have been on and off the field in the past six months due to minor setbacks.
All in all, the Men in yellow have been fighting injuries for a while now. This has been some challenging times for the cricketing side; they will look to find a way to come out of the turbulence and rise against all odds.
Predicted Playing XI
David Warner, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins ©, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood