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Are Australia the team to back for World Cup glory?

Ben Darvill 25 May 2019
Steve Smith (credit:DAN PELED/AAP/PA Images)

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is now a matter of days away and one side which are peaking just at the right time are Australia, with the reigning-world champions going from zeros to potential heroes in the sport.

Cricket is an incredibly fickle game, with the sport providing supreme highs and incredible lows, as the line between triumph and defeat is so slim. One side that has really gone through the ringer over the past year is Australia, with the outfit going from one of the dominant forces in world cricket to something of a laughing stock. 

The Aussies fall on the pitch came in conjunction with their fall off it, which was caused by some incredibly foolish antics in the middle. Captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were found guilty of tampering with the ball in a Test match against South Africa in early 2018 after they utilised a foreign object to change the surface of the ball. Bans were subsequently thrown at the trio, with Smith and Warner Australia’s two best players, meaning their suspensions hit the side very hard. 

The pair have missed out on a huge portion of cricket for their country and they have suffered for it. Looking solely at ODI cricket, Australia were hammered 5-0 by England in England before they lost 2-1 to South Africa and India and then went 2-0 down to India after their first two ODI’s following those bans. Their awful run saw the side win just two matches in 11 attempts, which is likely the exact opposite to what they would usually be looking at in this time. Clearly, Warner and Smith’s bans coincided with a real downturn in the Australian team’s form, with their over-reliance on the pair exposed. 

However, while it took the side a long time to come to terms with the loss of the duo, they did eventually do exactly that, and they have come out on the other side far better for it. Originally, runs were the real loss for the outfit, with Warner and Smith consistently high scorers across all formats of the game. In their absence, men had to stand up to be counted, and that is exactly what Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch did. An impressive average of 59.15 in 2019 has come along with two centuries and six half-centuries in 13 innings for Kawaja as he has continually managed to give the Aussies a strong start to their games. Finch meanwhile has also impressed with an average of over 50, while he has notched two centuries and three half-centuries in this time. Their impressive opening partnership gives Australia a superb base to build upon as they seek to give their bowlers something to defend, while the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh also averaged over 50 in the UAE and so give Australia a real impetus further down the order. 

The return to form for the four afore-mentioned players in conjunction with the return of Smith and Warner, with the latter a former opener for the side, means the Aussies now have an enviable headache as they look to cram some world class and in form batsmen into their team. The question will now be who opens for the side, with Khawaja and Finch the established pair, while Warner has shone in the Indian Premier League, while Smith will likely come back in to bolster what is looking like a very Australian batting lineup once again. 

Their rejuvenation has seen the side win eight ODI’s in a row against a very impressive Indian side before they defeated Pakistan 5-0 in Pakistan to come into the tournament in fine form, while they boast a decent record in England in ODI cricket, winning two of the last three series against their hosts. 

As much as the return of Warner and Smith should give Australia even more with the bat, it must be questioned whether tampering with a winning formula by adding two of the world’s best batsmen will have a detrimental effect on the side. If the pair do not immediately gel with the rest of the group and things begin to change both on and off the pitch, then their return could see Australia’s momentum extinguished. Clearly, the main objective for the side going into the World Cup will be building upon their momentum and ensuring Warner and Smith bed in well, and if they can seamlessly re-introduce them back into the side, then at 4/1, we feel they offer fairly good value to win the World Cup this summer. 

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Are Australia the team to back for World Cup glory?

Following an impressive run in ODI matches in 2019, have Australia become the team to back to win the World Cup this summer?

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