Weakened Australia headed for thrashing in India

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Australia will start their five-match ODI series in India on Sunday with a vastly weakened attack, missing their two best bowlers as well as their second-highest wicket taker from last year.

    The tourists will be without the world’s number one-ranked ODI bowler Josh Hazlewood, as well as the best white-ball bowler on the planet, Mitchell Starc.

    Further weakening Australia is the injury-prompted absence of accurate seamer John Hastings, who was the second leading wicket-taker worldwide in ODIs last year, with 29 wickets at an average of 24.

    Currently the number two ODI side, Australia could regain the top ranking with a comprehensive series win. More likely, based on the attack they will field, Australia will be comfortably beaten and could potentially slide down into fourth spot, below England, if the Poms sweep the Windies in their series.

    Figures from the past three years show that when Starc plays Australia have had a phenomenal 33-7 win-loss record, but when he’s not on the field their record has been 10-12.

    It is not just Starc who Australia lean upon, but their pace attack as a whole. When they have their first-choice pace line-up of Starc, Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, they have a truly intimidating presence, even in these batsman-dominated days.

    As we saw last year, when the Aussies were hammered 5-0 in South Africa, if you remove that trio Australia are vulnerable. Prior to that tour, I flagged they were headed for a humiliation due to the weakness of their attack.

    While the bowling unit for the series in India is not as frail, it looks ill-equipped to combat the ballistic batting power of India on flat pitches in small grounds.

    Starc and Hazlewood both are out injured, and Cummins may well be used sparingly. An injury-prone cricketer, Cummins bowled to exhaustion in the second Test in Bangladesh when he was Australia’s sole pace option.

    Just ten weeks out from the Ashes, gun quicks Starc, Hazlewood and James Pattinson already are injured, so Australia surely will want to manage Cummins’ workload. It will surprise me if he doesn’t sit out at least two of the matches.

    That would leave Australia with the flimsy pace unit of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson and James Faulkner against a batting line-up which routinely devours attacks on home soil.

    Coulter-Nile is the pick of that group, having done well in his brief ODI career and fresh from a fantastic Indian Premier League campaign, during which he took 15 wickets at 15. But he will surely be rusty, with his last List A appearance being 15 months ago.

    Nathan Coulter-Nile

    Nathan Coulter-Nile (AFP / Tony Ashby)

    Richardson has battled to adapt to international cricket, averaging 39 with the ball from his 12 ODIs. Were they all available, Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, Coulter-Nile, Faulkner, Hastings, Pattinson, Jason Behrendorff, Chris Tremain and Joel Paris would all be better options.

    As for Faulkner, against every other international team, he has averaged a very good 26 with the ball across his ODI career. However, this spikes to 46 in his 16 matches against India and, even more worryingly, his economy rate against them is extraordinarily high at 6.57 runs per over (compared to 5.2 against every other team).

    The Indian batsmen are familiar with Faulkner’s bowling due to the fact he has played the past seven seasons of the IPL. Whereas the Tasmanian regularly tricks batsmen from other countries with his variation, the Indians pick his changes of pace quite comfortably.

    The home side have some of the world’s most damaging batsmen in Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni. In their last series on home soil, three matches against England, the team piled up mammoth totals of 381, 356 and 316. And when Australia last toured India, four years ago, the home side’s average total across the series was a whopping 322.

    Virat Kohli runs after hitting a drive

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    That included one match in which India absolutely butchered the Australian bowlers, making 1-362 from just 43.3 overs. Had they batted out their full overs they may well have reached 450.

    Australia fielded a full-strength attack in that match. This time they’ll be sending out a bowling unit which is B-grade. That does not bode well.

    My Australian XI for the first match
    1. David Warner
    2. Aaron Finch
    3. Steve Smith (c)
    4. Travis Head
    5. Glenn Maxwell
    6. Marcus Stoinis
    7. Matthew Wade
    8. Ashton Agar
    9. Pat Cummins
    10. Nathan Coulter-Nile
    11. Adam Zampa

    Australian ODI squad: Steve Smith (C), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

    First ODI – Chennai, September 17
    Second ODI – Kolkata, September 21
    Third ODI – Indore, September 24
    Fourth ODI – Bangalore, September 28
    Fifth ODI – Nagpur, October 1

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (86)

    • September 13th 2017 @ 5:48am
      republican said | September 13th 2017 @ 5:48am | ! Report

      ……..with or without, we always struggle away from home and were unlikely to win this series anyway RO.

      • September 14th 2017 @ 4:12pm
        matth said | September 14th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

        We’ve won a few ODI series in India over the years, but we were a gun team then and they now have a batting line up to die for. So this time we will be pushing uphill.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 6:14am
      qwetzen said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:14am | ! Report

      “Prior to that tour, I flagged they were headed for a humiliation due to the weakness of their attack.”

      If you’re going to continue to stick these “I was right!” pins in then some people may start responding by mentioning the times that you weren’t. As a wise man once said; “Grow up.”

      • Roar Rookie

        September 13th 2017 @ 7:21am
        Lancey5times said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        Maybe he just knows what he’s talking about. The only people that would have a problem with this type of thing are those that use this site to attack others points of view rather then discuss a sport many of us love

        • September 13th 2017 @ 9:14am
          Nudge said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          Spot on Lancey. I can actually remember qwetzan saying I told you so when Handscomb had a few failures in India. But hey, he’s allowed to do that, but if anyone else does look out

        • September 13th 2017 @ 9:16am
          qwetzen said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          Disagree. There was absolutely no need to add his ‘Told you so!’ sentence. None. Its only purpose was for a spot of self-congratulatory Onanism. Perhaps now that Fox (US) have dropped their ‘Fair and Balanced’ slogan Ronan could adopt it and highlight some instances of where he was wrong?

          • September 13th 2017 @ 9:19am
            qwetzen said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            Oops. This should be for Eddie Orange.

        • September 14th 2017 @ 9:28am
          qwetzen said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          lol. I notice that our exchange mentioning a certain Roar ‘Expert’ has been deleted. And my post wasn’t even judgemental on said ‘Expert’. A very thin-skinned culture has The Roar…

      • Roar Guru

        September 13th 2017 @ 8:06am
        Edward L'Orange said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        I just saw it as supplying evidence for his arguments, i.e. showing that fears about a weak attack have proved founded in the past. Nothing too hubristic.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 9:57pm
        Jordan c said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

        +1 qwetzen

    • Roar Guru

      September 13th 2017 @ 7:17am
      Joey Johns said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      I think you’re going in one pace bowler light. Stoinis is less of a Pace option than Maxwell & Head are spinners. I doubt they’ll play all 3 of Agar, Maxwell & Head alongside Zampa.

      I expect Maxwell to ride the pine because Smithy & Lehmann put the end in vendetta.

      • Columnist

        September 13th 2017 @ 8:29am
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        Joey I actually think Stoinis has imrpoved a hell of a lot with the ball and has become a tidy 5th/6th bowler. He’s bowled nicely across his 3 ODIs so far, took 1-13 from 4 overs in their warm-up match yesterday, and was Victoria’s leading wicket taker in the Matador Cup last summer.

        He averages 33 with the ball in List A cricket with a good economy rate of 5.02rpo – solid numbers for a batting all-rounder.

        Stoinis can bowl at up to 140kmh, is accurate and has a decent bouncer. Of course, bowling to Kohli and Rohit on flat India decks is a whole other challenge for him.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 7:41am
      twodogs said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      Oh well, looks like we’re gonna have to win every toss and post really big totals☺
      Leaving Lyon out while he’s red hot isn’t exactly smart management.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 10:35am
        spruce moose said | September 13th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

        Batting first would be a mistake.

        Kohli is a lethal chasing batsman.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 7:30pm
          twodogs said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

          He’s only one of eleven.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 8:11am
      Swampy said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Lyon having taken so many wickets in the conditions likely to be repeated in India should feel miffed.

      Wickets still win matches. Faulkner can get them at a cost but still gets them. I don’t see agar, Maxwell, stoinis and co posing much of a wicket taking threat – perhaps if Kohli gets bored of working 4’s!

      • Columnist

        September 13th 2017 @ 8:32am
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        Australia actually named their squad for this India tour before the Test series in Bangladesh – if it had been named after the Bangladesh Tests then Lyon may well have earned a spot due to his dominance in that series.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 7:00pm
          Swampy said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

          He’s got some runs on the board so to speak in domestic one day cricket as well – it’s surprising they don’t give him another chance internationally considering how faithful they’ve been with him for tests.

    • Roar Rookie

      September 13th 2017 @ 8:43am
      Lancey5times said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      When you have CA focused solely on the Ashes and the ICB all about limited overs cricket and posting mammoth totals at home in front of screaming fans this is hardly surprising. If not for the backlash from India I would have named Travis Head captain and left Smith and Warner at home as well.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 10:12am
        Damo said | September 13th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Nailed it ^^

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