ICC World Cup squad profile: Bet on Australia to rise to the occasion
Most members of the five-time champions rich in experience of playing in India
The track record of the recent 50-over World Cups show that the hosts have been calling the shots – starting with India (2011), Australia (2015) and England (2019). However, one has to always count Australia in among the title favourites when they go into any major ICC tournament.
Granted that the yellow shirts, who won the big prize the most number of times (five) does not have the same depth as before – but the likes of Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath or Shane Warne were once in a generation players. The fact that Australian players, along with West Indians, are the most sought after in the IPL shows they have grown much more adept in performing in Indian conditions than the past.
It’s true that the hosts walloped them in the first two of a three-match series in progress in India, but then white ball cricket is also about the performance level a team brings to the table on a given day. Only in March this year, they had turned the tables on India 2-1 in an ODI series during a visit which also included a four-Test series.
When Cricket Australia named their final 15 for the showpiece on September 6, they named the Big Four of captain Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell despite them coming out of injuries. The injury-management team has been careful in easing them into competition though, with senior left-arm pace ace Mitchell Starc being cleared to play the last ODI of the ongoing series in Rajkot on Wednesday.
It would be interesting to see if they take a call on bringing back Marnus Labuschagne – originally ignored – ahead of the cut-off date for final squads on Thursday (September 28). Labuschagne had not been his consistent self through this year, including the Ashes, but is a part of the playing XI in India at the moment. He got starts in both his innings so far before being snapped up by wily Ravi Ashwin, but it will be worth to gamble with him for the sheer quality and ability to tackle spinners – more so since Smith has not been in the best of form.
There are hardly any surprises among the batters with David Warner, Smith and Travis Head likely to be used among the top-order and allrounders Mitchell Marsh, Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green adding some depth to the line-up. Alex Carey and Josh Inglis are the two keepers, with Carey the first choice after he performed admirably in the last World Cup in 2019.
The fast bowling department is big on reputation with Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Starc while Sean Abbott is the back-up pacer. Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa provide the spinning options.
World Cup squad: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc. Final cut-off date: September 28 (Thursday).
Best performance: Winners: 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015; Runners-up: 1975, 1996.