Discussing Australia is quite simple as we’ve seen a lot of Australia of late. Even the most ardent fan would find it irritating following Pakistan cricket and understanding team selections and strategies. I thought Asif and Aameer were here to stay for a long time and along with Gul, would provide the meal the game starved of quality fast bowling needed. They went in a jiffy. The Australian system always advocates good planning and grooming of specific players for specific roles. The system has been on serious examination of late. Batting wise, I should say Australia have delivered brilliant products for the future. Surprisingly on the bowling front, things look bleak.
Shane Watson has been a constant among the several passersby since his return from injury. He’s returned big, fit and looks mentally strong and determined. He’s held the batting almost single handedly over the last many months. His bowling has been scarce but he’s making sure he doesn’t encounter another jiggle now. Over a period of time, he’s kept Shaun Marsh out of the one day squad with his consistency. Both Watson and Haddin are makeshift openers but this is easily Australia’s best available combination. Haddin has played some brilliant one day cricket in India and he could make a big impact again. I doubt if Australia needed the second wicketkeeper in Tim Paine although I am mighty impressed with both his batting and keeping. In seaming and bowler friendly conditions, he’ll be more composed than Haddin. I’ll mark him as Australia’s next long time test keeper. Considering his batting abilities and his recent performance and the fact that he’ll be the backup to Haddin, I am fine with it. David Warner was the other opener Australia used post Hayden-Gilchrist but Watson-Haddin is a pretty stable pair.
Three will be Ricky Ponting. The man looks hungry and is getting some good starts. Australia would be hoping he’ll be able to make some dominating hundreds. Micheal Clarke was in very patchy form not long ago but he’s completely out of it. He looks like playing a long knock every single time. Fast bowling will be fodder to him. Bowling groups should take the attack to him with spin. And then there is a deep hole there. Micheal Hussey!! The rules do not permit him to be part of the squad again. His brother David is good enough for 20 over games but he’s such a weak link for the longer format. Do go through these two pieces.
Cameron White has come a long way in the last three seasons. Authority is what is evident in his batting these days. If Mike Hussey was playing, he would have batted at 6. He’s got a well earned promotion now, at 5. For No.6, Adam Voges and even Shaun Marsh were contenders but the way Callum Fergusson has performed in each of the games that he’s got, he’s grabbed that spot for himself. He’ll be playing in his own cool hut there and settle a lot of nerves whether it is batting first, or chasing. If David Hussey and Steve Smith are going to follow White, those will be two weak links good oppositions will easily exploit. David Hussey may get twenty quick runs but he does not have the technique to both survive and score for long periods here in India. I am sure he’ll be exposed sooner than later. Smith is getting to play for Australia mainly because the continent is facing severe scarcity of spinners. His unorthodox hitting won’t fetch consistent returns for his team. Australia would have been better off with someone like James Hopes.
Again this is another team with a lot to ponder about at numbers 5 to 7. Micheal Hussey, Callum Fergusson and Cameron White look the strongest to me. This will mean White is the sixth bowling option assuming Clarke doesn’t bowl with his weak back. Watson will be the fifth bowler. If you want to strengthen the sixth bowling option lessening Watson’s burden, substitute Fergusson with Hopes. Hastings is the man they’ve preferred now. I don’t know if Hopes is out with injury. But my point is that if you have better medium pacers, play them instead of playing inferior spinners just because it’s the sub continent. Weaker spinners in the subcontinent will go for far more runs than Hopes or Hastings. David Hussey just cannot be playing international one day cricket, leave alone the World Cup for Australia.
Injuries more or less decide who gets to play in the bowling department. Brett Lee is still as competitive as ever. I saw Charles Coventry slice him for a six over point and he came back with all vigour to bowl good tight short pitched stuff, troubled him all the way before getting him. Lee, Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris and Doherty should have been the first choice line up. For all the work Hauritz had done in the chances he got, he surely didn’t deserve an injury.
Jason Krejza is extremely fortunate to be playing and let’s see how things pan out for him. Tait is as dependable as Sreesanth. They played him ahead of Bollinger in the last game. Bollinger is a much safer bet and should accompany Lee and Johnson. Johnson displayed a much slower run up to the crease in the game against Zimbabwe. That was perhaps to try and bowl as straight as possible but the man still delivered wides the way he always does. As long as he’s doing that, no opposition will consider him a threat. With Siddle, Harris and Hilfenhaus missing, it’s a big blow. With what they have got, David Hussey, Tim Paine, Shaun Tait and John Hastings should sit out.
Australia will have England or West Indies in the quarters. If it’s England, they are the favourites. If it’s West Indies, it’ll be a tough game. There is going to be serious trouble either there or in the round of the last four.