Written by Saikat Ghosh | | New Delhi | | February 9, 2015 7:40:21 am
World Cup and Australia if said in the same breath make more sense. Don’t they? Four World Cups, five finals is not a feat achieved overnight. A dominating, very dominating run makes such figures happen.
With the tournament visiting their country after a gap of 13 years, the Australians would like to get back to business – winning the Cup after the disappointment in the sub-continent.
The side is balanced, bases covered but the cloud of confusion blurs the view. Will Michael Clarke play? Will he be fit? If he’s not, who will lead? Bailey? Smith? That is something we will know in the coming weeks, but let’s first throw some light at how Australia fared in the year gone by.
Death keeps them alive: Australia will rely heavily on their bowling. It’s their bowling which have won them matches in the last 12 months. They have pulled things back while defending totals and haven’t given many when it came to slog overs.
In last 12 months, Australia played 10 games and won 8 of them. In 5 of those matches Australia chased down the paltry or achievable totals largely because of the effort of their seamers.
There is no dearth of talent in their attack, if recent matches are taken into the account. In absence of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc has led the pace attack quite convincingly.
Against India and England, recently in tri-series, Australia gave away just 44 and 59 runs at the death picking up 10 wickets.
Deep batting: Just in case the openers have an off day, which rarely happens for the Kangaroos, the middle-order has the ability to bring the team home in a tense nail-biter. While the top-order looks sorted with the presence of David Warner and Aaron Finch – he is averaging 50 during the span of last 10 matches at home, the likes of Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell gave the middle-order a perfect mix of caution and aggression.
Utility: Australia have a group of players with all-round abilities. While Shane Watson can double up as 4th or 5th medium-pace options., Maxwell and Smith can turn themselves into good part- time spinners to slow down the tempo of the game. Don’t even forget James Faulkner here.
Missing turn: If Australia pace department is full of potential then their spin department looks set to be found wanting against teams from the subcontinents. Those times are gone when they boasted of big names who can create havoc on rank-turners. For the record, Australia will play Sri Lanka in the group stages.
Struggling Watson: Australia are clearly lacking a solid No. 3 in Shane Watson who had made that all-important slot his own. Watson averages 27.75 at home in last 8 games. His career average is far better at 40.57. The chink in Australia’s armour can be exposed if the opposition manages to strike early.
Looking at the form Smith is in, he will the guiding light in the Australia middle-order. He has the knack of rotating strikes and keeping himself busy. And can accelerate picking gaps at will. With a brilliant Test series against India, and an equally good captaincy record, this young sensation would like to make this Cup his own. For the numbers, Smith averaged 21 a year ago and now it has swelled to 39.13.
(Stats until 22nd January, 2014)
Saikat Ghosh writes on Cricket, Football and F1. He holds a degree in Print Journalism from IIJNM Bangalore ap...read more