Come 30th of May 2019, Australia will pursue their defense of Cricket World Cup. The won the tournament five times, the most another other team ever managed. They play their first match of the tournament on 01st June against Afghanistan at Bristol.
The Cricket Australia had announced their 15-member squad that would travel to England. Six of the members from the World Cup winning squad will feature this year. David Warner and Steve Smith will return to the international cricket after the one-year ban.
Since the World Cup:
2015 World Cup: Winners
Since winning the World Cup for the third time in 2015, the team had witnessed lot of turbulence. They looked in cruise control in the across the formats until the major shake up happened with the ball-tampering. The incident sent shock, not just for Australian cricket, but everywhere in the cricketing world. Australian board had no choice but put the step forward and make some tough choices.
2017 was a year to forget and 2018 too. Until the recent wins against India and Pakistan, the team looked vulnerable in all the formats. Good for them, it helped Aaron Finch to come to terms with the struggling side and learnt the lessons the hard way. New players have come up in the mix, Handscomb and Turner were thrown a chance. As many as 45 players represented Australia in ODIs since the last world cup.
The team has a perfect blend with all the bases covered except for the back up wicket-keeper. Peter Handscomb’s exclusion is up for lot of discussion owing to this particular reason. From Australia’s perspective, they hope that Alex Carey should be able to carry on for the whole of the tournament. With Steve Smith and David Warner returning, there is always risk of some one to lose the contest.
Batsmen (Expected in the starting XI): Aaron Finch, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith | Remaining: Shaun Marsh
The World Cup will be first time that Steve Smith and David Warner will be involved in a competitive tournament with the remaining team. The interesting aspect though will be how Aaron Finch will handle the returning members into the squad. Warner’s form in the IPL is a huge boost both for himself and the side. Steve Smith is not in complete touch owing to his elbow injury, his movement is largely restricted. Shaun Marsh would always be on the hunt for that position.
All Rounders (Expected in the starting XI): Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis
No surprises there. Both Maxwell and Stoinis would select themselves into the Starting XI. Maxwell comes off a wonderful 5-for in the county championship just one day before the selection. Not that the things would have changed otherwise.
Wicket Keeper (Expected in the starting XI): Alex Carey
It might not be the ideal thing but Alex Carey and the wicket keeping is the weakest link in this side. No back up options and batting #7 would mean Alex Carey should avoid anything that could draw attention towards him.
Spinners (Expected in the starting XI) : Adam Zampa | Remaining: Nathan Lyon
Both Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon could feature in the starting XI given the limited options for the sixth bowling slot. Both the all-rounders could make up for the sixth bowling position. Australia might not be tempted to leave the spinners out of the same game unless conditions are favorable for the pace bowling. If there is a choice to be made, Zampa could earn a spot ahead of Lyon
Pace Bowlers(Expected in the starting XI) : Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc | Remaining: Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendoff.
The department that left everyone bit puzzled. With Starc and Jhye Richardson struggling for fitness and Hazlewood left out, the discussions would most likely be critical than supportive. They would, in all likelihood, feature three-pace and two-spin attack in all the games unless pitches turn slow. Given the fitness constraints only one of Starc or Jhye could feature in a game with Coulter-Nile and Cummins expected to be complete the bowling line up.
(c) Images and Statistics are from Cricket Australia, ESPN Cricinfo and ICC Cricket