Captain – Steve Smith
Dangerman – Pat Cummins
The Aussies will be desperate to unleash their four-man pace attack of Starc, Hazlewood, Pattinson and Cummins at some point during the tournament. There hasn’t been so much hype about a seam bowling unit since the Windies were cleaning up in the 80’s. The longer Cummins stays fit, the more he looks like a world class paceman capable of leading this attack. If they fire Australia will be very, very hard to beat. England’s Alex Hales will no doubt remember being on the receiving end of Cummins searing pace back in 2015 when he was cleaned bowled having been plainly done for pace in a T20 international, and he’s one of many; it would appear Moises Henriques’ recent assessment that Cummins is a ‘freak of nature’ may well be accurate. We’ll soon find out.
Why they’re a Threat
Regardless of the context, Australia are always there or thereabouts. Steve Smith is in the sort of form previously reserved for the absolute greats of the game, and David Warner has scored six hundreds in his last eleven ODI’s.
They have also picked emerging talents Marcus Stoinis and Chris Lynne, aka. ‘Mr Big Bash’, the winner of the BBL’s Player of the Tournament for the last two years. Lynn is yet to make an impression wearing green and gold, but a global ICC tournament may be the platform he’s looking for to gain international recognition; his current profile tends to be restricted to his own shores.
Their last trip to the UK didn’t end well. In 2015, England won both the Ashes and the One Day International series 3-2, as well as the one-off Twenty20 International. Small margins you might say, but Australia’s inability to play swinging and seaming deliveries in English conditions was woefully exposed. They can expect a similar environment when they face both England and New Zealand at Edgbaston in the group stages this time around; if their top order crumbles like they did two summers ago, even the frightening pace of the Aussie seamers might be enough to rescue them.
Unusually for Australia in a major tournament, they crashed out in the first stage, finishing bottom of Group A. A washout against old foe New Zealand along with two poor batting performances against England and Sri Lanka left them in a state of almost disrepair just weeks before the Ashes.
Look out for Chances?
One of their four ‘once in a generation’ fast bowlers breaking down in the first game, followed shortly afterwards by an announcement that he’ll be out of action for about 18 months.
If they do get through the group, everyone will no doubt be crossing their fingers for them to draw India in the semis so the two teams can reacquaint themselves after one of the most fiery winter tours of all time.
7/2 – Second favourites (Betfair)