Australia Surge Ahead Despite Injuries
There is no denying that Australia are one of the favourites to win the World Cup this year. With a squad of specialists who can perform in any given scenario, the Baggy Greens will arguably be the toughest side to beat during the tournament.
Australia have also been in brilliant form heading into the tournament as they crushed South Africa 4-1 in an ODI series in November. However, more recently, Australia went undefeated in their ODI tri-series triumph over England and India.
During the tri-series tournament, Australia really showed that they can fire on all cylinders at any given time and can together as a well oiled machine. With batsmen like Steve Smith, David Warner and Aaron Finch in the line-up, it will be extremely difficult for the opposition to contain the runs and restrict the Baggy Greens to a small total.
In regards to the squad they have picked, Australia have decided to gamble on captain Michael Clarke, who is currently recovering from having his hamstring surgically repaired. While Clarke recently had a decent outing playing for Cricket Australia XI against Bangladesh in a warm-up game where he batted for 47 minutes, bowled a couple of overs and took a difficult low catch as well, he himself admitted there is still work to be done on his fitness.
Another major surprise was Australia's decision to pick left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty over Nathan Lyon. Even though Lyon has played more ODIs for Australia as of late, the national selectors revealed that they were concerned that the 27-year-old would concede too many runs due to the new fielding restrictions.
While Doherty has turned out to be a solid choice for Australia in the past, there can be no denying that Lyon is enjoying a lot of success with the ball. This was well highlighted during the four-Test series against India, where Lyon topped the wicket-takers table with 23 victims at an average of 34.82.
With the World Cup looming over the horizon, the only problem that Australia face is a top-order batting collapse. These collapses have been frequent as of late and it is imperative that Finch and Warner set a solid foundation so that players like Smith, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin and James Faulkner can come in and up the scoring rate.
Another worry will be Faulkner's injury that he sustained during the tri-series final against England. It has been announced that Faulkner sustained a side strain and will undergo an intensive two-week rehabilitation programme. But, despite the promise of the receiving the best medical care, the entire Baggy Greens community will be hoping that Faulkner recovers in time for the World Cup, especially after he scored 50 runs off 24 balls and took one wicket during the tri-series final against England.
The only other issue Australia have to worry about is whether to play three left-arm seamers at the same time. Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Faulkner have all been in superb form as of late and, if Faulkner is fit to play, the question becomes whether Australia should gamble on a trio of left-armers or keep rotating them in order to keep them fresh.
14th February – Australia v England in Melbourne
21st February – Australia v Bangladesh in Brisbane
28th February – New Zealand v Australia in Auckland
4th March – Australia v Afghanistan in Perth
8th March – Australia v Sri Lanka in Sydney
14th March – Australia v Scotland in Hobart
Recent Form (last 10 ODI matches):
(recent) W, N/R, W, W, W, W, W, W, L, W
1st February, 2015 - Beat England by 112 runs (Perth)
26th January, 2015 - Match against India abandoned due to rain (Sydney)
23rd January, 2015 - Beat England by three wickets (Hobart)
18th January, 2015 - Beat India by four wickets (Melbourne)
16th January, 2015 - Beat England by three wickets (Sydney)
23rd November, 2014 - Beat South Africa by two wickets (Sydney)
21st November, 2014 - Beat South Africa by three wickets (Melbourne)
19th November, 2014 - Beat South Africa by 73 runs (Canberra)
16th November, 2014 - Lost to South Africa by three wickets (Perth)
14th November, 2014 - Beat South Africa by 32 runs (Perth)
Michael Clarke has the second best batting average (83.62) overall in World Cups (Minimum Qualification – 500 runs). Only Andrew Symonds (103.00) has a better average than the Australian captain.
When it comes to World Cups, Australia have won 55 matches in the overall 76 with a W/L ratio of 2.894.
During the 1992 World Cup which is the only edition, Australia have hosted till now, they have won four games out of the eight played.
In the 10 editions of World Cup so far, Australia have been into the finals six times and have won four.
Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey (vice-captain), David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wicket-keeper), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty
Coach: Darren Lehmann
Player To Watch
Steve Smith - Given the amount of success he has had with the bat over the summer, Smith is definitely the man all Australian fans will be watching during the World Cup. He will be Australia's key player during the tournament simply because almost everything he does turns to gold.
© Cricket World 2015