Australia Aim To Lay A Base For The 2019 World Cup
Time and tide wait for none, the last time Australia won a One-Day International bilateral series was way back last year when they beat a hapless Pakistan side 4-1 at home, in January 2017. They have lost four series on the trot, including a watery exit from the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
As they take on their favourite opponents in England, the Tim-Paine led Australian side looks severely handicapped even before they set foot in England. To say that their batting depended heavily on David Warner and Steven Smith will be an understatement. Take out the ever-injured Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, the depleted bowling attack could give the one for the Royal Challengers Bangalore a run for their money.
When one looks into the rearview mirror, it says, “objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear” and Australia may not be wrong to think that way about the 2019 World Cup. While the rest of the teams are finalising their squad, fixing their chinks in their armour, Australia are yet to decide on how they want to play the game of cricket.
England have grown remarkably as an ODI side since their early exit from the 2015 World Cup and as much as the Aussies might hate, they can take inspiration from their arch-rivals to resurrect their ODI woes. They have always bossed teams at home but their fortunes and image have really taken a hammering.
They come into the ODI series on the back of two 1-4 series losses to India and England and their issues couldn’t be more grave. Warner and Smith hardly got going and the poor returns from Starc and Hazlewood, meant the defending champions were brutally exposed against England at home.
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While all seems gloom, what could help Justin Langer and Co. is that the absence of the four key personnel gives the others a chance to stake a claim and get used to the conditions and roles.
Aaron Finch showed good form against England and he along with Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell will be expected to do the bulk of the scoring. James Faulkner was a vital cog in their one-day setup during their victorious run in 2015 and his replacement in Marcus Stoinis will be expected to do the needful.
The absence of Warner will also mean that D’Arcy Short gets a run at the top of the order and after a poor time with the bat in the recently concluded Indian Premier League edition, the good batting surfaces could just be what the doctor ordered for the southpaw.
Andrew Tye was the highest wicket-taker in the IPL and will be hoping to get good support from Billy Stanlake who breathed fire into the Sunrisers Hyderabad campaign before being ruled out due to injury. The form of the two will be vital for Australia as once Starc and Hazlewood return, it could really bolster their pace attack giving them a much-needed uplift, both in terms of potency and variety.
Both Paine and Langer will want to use this five-match ODI series as a platform to try out various combinations and players in different roles which could help them defend their title. Their record in England hasn’t been great in recent years, but as they say, the world lives on hope.
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