Defending champions Australia arrive in England for the 2019 Cricket World Cup with a point to prove after a tumultuous year.
Steve Smith and David Warner were banned for a year for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa at the beginning of 2018.
Both men have served their suspensions and have returned to the fold to boost the Baggy Greens’ squad ahead of the tournament. Without their two star batsmen, Australia struggled to compete in the 50-over format – notably suffering a 5-0 hammering at the hands of England last summer.
They are always dangerous in World Cups, winning three of the last four tournaments. Aaron Finch’s men have the star power and the experience to claim the crown, despite their recent struggles.
Aaron Finch (captain), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
Australia are attempting to win the World Cup for a sixth time, and for the fourth time in the last five tournaments. It would be a remarkable achievement if they were able to secure the crown in England given the turmoil that the Baggy Greens have endured over the last year.
Smith and Warner have both missed the last 12 months after serving their bans for the ball-tampering scandal. In their absence Australia were deprived of their two senior batsmen, leaving their line-up exposed. They los six bilateral series on the bounce before Finch’s men were able to stop the rot against India.
The Aussies were 2-0 down in the series, only to reverse their fortunes by winning the remaining three matches. They then eased passed Pakistan on home soil, rounding into form just in time for the World Cup. The return of Warner will give them a true quality power hitter at the top of the order, while Smith provides the anchor in the middle order.
David Warner – The 32-year-old has served his time after his suspension, but will certainly catch the ire of the English public for his role in the ball-tampering scandal. He’s one of the players that opposing fans and teams love to hate. However, there’s no denying his quality at the crease and he will be determined to prove his doubters wrong by producing a special performance at the World Cup. Warner was prevented playing first-class cricket for a year due to the terms of his ban, but he did return to action in the Indian Premier League.
The opener was outstanding for Sunrisers Hyderabad scoring 692 runs in his 12 innings, scoring nine fifties and a century in his time in the middle. His return to the green and gold has not been as impressive, failing to find his form in the 50-over game. However, when the spotlight will be on him, expect the 33-year-old to rise to the occasion. Warner is that sort of player that relishes the big occasion and will provide impetus for the rest of the line-up to play off the rapid starts that he can provide. Back him to lead the tournament in runs at 14/115.00+140014.0014.00-0.07 and to be Australia’s top man at 13/8 with Bet365.
Pat Cummins – The 26-year-old has become Australia’s spearhead over the last year. Cummins has overcome the injury issues that blighted the early stages of his career and is slowly developing into a class act with the red and white ball. The timing could have not been more critical for Australia as Mitchell Starc has struggled for form, while Josh Hazlewood has been sidelined for the World Cup due to injury. Cummins has the ability to tear through opposition line-ups using his raw pace and movement to trouble the best batsmen in the world. His statistics are outstanding, averaging 26.53 with an economy rate of 5.18 and a strike rate of 30.6.
In the modern game boasting a bowler that can take two wickets per match, while going for only 50 runs in his 10 overs is quite an achievement. Cummins was one of the keys to victory against India in Australia’s triumph. They have been careful with him since, managing his workload ahead of the World Cup. Starc proved what a quick bowler operating at his peak can do for a team in the last tournament. If Cummins can do the same Australia could challenge for the crown. Back him to lead the wicket column in the competition at odds of 18/119.00+180018.0018.00-0.06 and for Australia at 11/43.75+2752.752.75-0.36 with Bet365.
Australia are considered slight outsiders for the tournament, although they are a long way from the team that was hammered 5-0 by England on their visit last year.
With Starc and Cummins in their bowling ranks, they boast two players that can blow away any line-up in the world on their day. Outside of the two pacemen their options are limited, which could be their downfall in the other 30 overs.
Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Nathan Lyon have to be able to support their team-mates. Their batting ranks look a lot better with Warner and Smith restored to the team, although they still lack the quality up-and-down that England and India have at their disposal.
Experience could be a vital factor and that may be able to steer them through the group stage, although it will be a tight affair in the round-robin format. Back the Aussies to reach the semi-finals at odds of 13/53.60+2602.602.60-0.38 with 888Sport, but that will be it for the defending champions, who are not the complete team they have been in past tournaments.