Four times World Cup champions Australia have named their World Cup squad on expected lines barring the inclusion of little known 25-year-old Victorian all-rounder John Hastings.
Interestingly, Nathan Hauritz is the lone spinner, as selectors have favoured pace than spin in the forthcoming World Cup. Ashes hat-trick hero Peter Siddle misses out while the likes of Callum Ferguson, David Warner failed to make the cut.
The exclusion of seasoned batsman Brad Hodge who is in prolific form in the Ryobi Cup, as the leading run-getter with three centuries at an average of 82.33 is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
The power-packed combination of in-form batsman Shane Watson and Brad Haddin will open the batting, with skipper Ricky Ponting likely to don the number three position.
The middle-order looks experienced with Ponting’s deputy Michael Clarke and an uncertain Michael Hussey. Hard-hitting batsman Cameroon White is likely to take the number six slot, with one-day specialist David Hussey featuring at position seven.
However, all eyes will be on Michael Hussey who is fighting the race to be fit for the cricket extravaganza in the subcontinent and it would be worth following who would fit the bill if Michael Hussey fail to recover in time.
Brad Haddin will keep the wickets and Tim Paine may play as a specialist batsman as young Steve Smith, David Hussey and Shane Watson will perform the all round duties for Australia.
The bowling unit is bolstered by the return of experienced Brett Lee, who did not feature in the last World Cup and inconsistent speedster Mitchell Johnson, a handy lower-order batsman with hitting prowess. Doug Bollinger, the successful bowler on the 2009 Indian trip and express pace of Shaun Tait gives skipper Ponting flexibility and variety to choose from. They could be devastating if the bowl starts to reverse.
Only Ponting, Clarke, Lee, Tait, Watson, Mike Hussey, Johnson and Haddin have the prior experience of playing in World Cup.
Australia World Cup squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Shane Watson, Cameron White
Players to watch out for
Shane Watson is in the form of his life opening the innings for Australia in all forms of the game. Since 2009, he has scored 1945 runs in 41 innings averaging 47.43 at the top of the order, which includes four hundreds. He can switch gears once set and also play a sheet anchor’s role. A batsman who favours to play in the traditional “V”, he is extremely quick to deploy the pull and cut shot as well. The sweep-shot is a welcome addition to his quiver. Add to that, the medium pace bowling and strong throwing arm, he is complete package for the Australian skipper.
Cameron White is a batting all-rounder, with a newfound reputation of finisher in ODIs. An adept player with a clean striking ability over long-on and long-off, he can propel the Australian total beyond the opposition’s reach and play a significant role in high-scoring chases, coming in at number six. He averages 38 with the bat in 73 games but most importantly has the ability to hit boundaries at will and pace the innings, with remarkable calm.
Doug Bollinger. The left-arm pacer is crucial to Australia’s success with the new ball. He has an uncanny ability to take wickets, with the new cherry. He has already got two five-wicket hauls and was impressive with the ball, during the last tour of India in 2009, with nine scalps. The 29-year-old slippery bowler has 43 ODI wickets in 29 matches and is a strike weapon with the new ball. His awkward angle of delivery coupled with the swing makes him lethal even on unresponsive strips.
Ricky Ponting. The skipper has taken a lot of flak after the Ashes defeat, but he is the main man for Australia, if they have to win an unprecedented fourth World Cup title on a trot. Ponting has a penchant for big hundreds, demoralising the opposition bowlers and often raises the bar in the big games, evident from the murderous 140 not out in World Cup final, against India in 2003. A break from the constant media scrutiny might rejuvenate him to deliver the goods with his bat and astute captaincy. Ponting is one of the leading batsman in ODI cricket with 352 games making 13,082 runs at an average of 42.75 with 29 centuries in his illustrious career.
World Cup Stats: 1537 runs in 39 matches, averaging 48.03 with the bat, with four tons.
21st February (D/N) Australia v Zimbabwe, Ahmedabad, 2.30pm, India, 9am GMT
25th February (D/N) Australia v New Zealand, Nagpur, 2.30 pm, India, 9am GMT
5th March (D/N) Sri Lanka v Australia RPS, Colombo, 2.30pm India, 9am GMT
13th March (D/N) Australia v Kenya Bengaluru, 2.30pm, India, 9am GMT
16th March (D/N) Australia v Canada Bengaluru, 2.30pm, India, 9am GMT
19th March (D/N) Australia v Pakistan RPS, Colombo, 2.30pm, India, 9am GMT
© Cricket World 2011