With the World Cup less than three months away, here are all the key dates for Australia’s one-day side as they aim to defend their title.
The Australian ODI side has struggled over the past 18 months, winning just one from their past 12 games. Here is how I would revamp the squad if the World Cup were on next week.
1. David Warner:
The established opening batsman in all three formats of the game, Warner will be disappointed with only one half-century and one ton from his last 11 games, but he is too good a player to not bounce back.
Over 100 ODIs to his name at an average of 44, a strike rate of 96, and 14 centuries prove he is a world-class player.
2. Aaron Finch:
It’s time to put the Finch debate to bed, after his two centuries and one half-century from three games against England at the top of the order.
Finch is experienced and explosive and while his form can fluctuate, he is a dominant player when in good nick. His average of 38 is more than handy and, like Warner, he has a strike rate over 90.
3. Usman Khawaja:
It’s time the Australian selectors put full faith in Usman, as he is one of the best three batsmen in the country, alongside Steve Smith and David Warner.
Shane Watson said it best – you don’t get world-class players to come along all the time and, when you do, you put full faith in them and give them an extended run to showcase their skills.
Khawaja has a moderate ODI record, averaging 31 from 18 games, however, his List A record is outstanding, averaging 45, with nine centuries at a strike rate of 86.
In English conditions, you need to pick your best batsman, not just pinch-hitters at number three.
4. Steve Smith:
I like the move of Smith to four, as it allows someone like Khawaja to enter the team in a top-order position. Smith can easily be Australia’s Michael Clarke, controlling an innings and playing at different tempos, depending on the situation.
He has had a wretched run, for his standards, with just three half-centuries from the last 13 games. However, his average of 42 and strike rate of 86 is perfect for the four spots. He’ll bounce back, with some big scores just around the corner.
5. Glenn Maxwell:
Maxwell’s ODI form has been poor over the past couple of seasons, so it’s understandable he’s been dropped. However, this summer he has really knuckled down, batting some long and patient innings in Shield cricket and holding together a struggling Melbourne Stars outfit in the middle order.
In 80 ODIs, his average at 32 could be better but his strike rate of 123 is phenomenal. Australia can’t afford to leave a player of his caliber out, now it’s up to Maxwell to deliver.
6. Marcus Stoinis:
Stoinis has burst onto the scene this year, with some spectacular ODI performances in a struggling Australian side. He could not be doing much more than averaging 66 from 11 games, with a strike rate of 107, and has really salvaged his team from poor positions on a number of occasions.
He has struggled with the ball, however his seamers are an all-round option as he develops greater variations and control. An intelligent cricketer, despite the big, burly appearance.
7. Alex Carey
Carey is the heir apparent to Tim Paine, and what better way to establish himself than take the gloves in the ODI side for a couple of years, while Paine can keep himself fresh and fit for Tests.
Carey has been super impressive opening the batting in BBL07, and while he isn’t ready to do that for Australia, he can be more explosive than Paine at seven.
8. Pat Cummins:
Cummins picks himself, despite the fact he can go around the park at times. His body is now up to the rigours of international cricket, and he is as fit as a fiddle.
A genuine wicket-taker, with 60 wickets from 38 ODIs, while his economy rate is high, at 5.47, that’s respectable enough for a strike bowler. He’s also a gun in the field and can add some late-order hitting.
9. Nathan Lyon:
Lyon is the best spinner in the country by a long way, having bowled exceptionally over the past 18 months. He oozes confidence, not only with his bowling but with his general demeanor and the way he speaks about attacking batsmen.
It’s a mystery why he has only played 13 ODIs, as he is going for only 4.93 runs per over, at an average of 34. We need an attacking spinner that can take wickets in the middle overs, as well as control the tempo of batting innings, and Lyon is a senior player capable of doing that.
10. Mitchell Starc:
Australia’s pace leader, Starc was a key factor in Australia winning the World Cup on home soil in 2015, and he has a truly remarkable ODI record with 140 wickets in just 71 games, at a great average of 20, and an economy rate of 4.9.
11. Josh Hazlewood:
Hazlewood has blossomed in both Test and ODI cricket over the past couple of years, as he has enjoyed a relatively injury-free run. He should enjoy the English conditions if there is a bit of nip around the wickets.
He has a good record in ODIs, with 66 wickets in 39 games, with an average of 24 and economy rate of just 4.72.
Marsh has really blossomed in Test cricket this summer and has looked in good touch in the 50-over format. He would be pretty stiff to miss the starting 11 but three all-rounders don’t go into two spots.
His record is pretty good for a six, averaging 36 with a strike rate over 90, so you could make the case he deserves to bat ahead of Maxwell. He just hits the ball so hard and, on small grounds, is capable of clearing the ropes. He also looks to be giving himself more time to play himself in.
I am not convinced by his ODI bowling, but he provides a fourth seam option.
Head is a similar player to Maxwell, just not quite as good. He has a good record, averaging 35 from 32 games, however, he struggled in the four roles.
Maddinson could be the smokey as Australia’s next number three. He is a different player to Khawaja and his good 50-over form for NSW should not be ignored.
A player of freakish talent when at his best, he has never really had a consistent run of form, however, he was exceptional in the past two domestic one-day competitions.
With a good list average of 38, and strike rate close to 90, he could fit the bill as a first drop who doesn’t always come off but can get the side off to a fast start.
Agar is one of the most improved players in the country and should be the second spinner, behind Lyon. He has demonstrated greater control and subtleties in his bowling in the BBL, and in his recent appearances in Bangladesh for Australia in the Test series.
He is also growing in confidence as a No.8 batsman, capable of clearing the ropes and manipulating the ball.
Big Billy would have to be my pace back-up as he would put pressure on the more established bowlers.
He bowls over 145km and with his towering height gets a searing bounce. He didn’t have a happy time in his two ODIs last summer, but he is worth another look. The main thing is keeping him injury free.