1. Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Johnson has definitely become one of the most feared pace bowlers in international cricket ever since he left England battered and bruised following the last Ashes series in the Land Down Under.
While his aggression and raw pace was also on full display in the recent Test series against South Africa, which Australia won 2-1, he has to ensure that his standards do not slip in ODIs.
One of the impressive things to consider is that Johnson recently managed to take six wickets in two ODIs against Pakistan at a jaw-dropping average of 10.66. If he is capable of such destruction in spin-friendly conditions, one can only imagine how lethal he will be on home soil and in New Zealand since both countries are renowned for having pace-friendly pitches.
Johnson will be instrumental in ensuring that Australia taste World Cup glory since he is riding on a wave of momentum heading into the tournament. But his main goal during the World Cup will be to take early wickets, keep the batsmen under pressure and strike fear in their hearts with his vicious bouncers and toe-crushing yorkers.
2. Shane Watson
Shane Watson is easily one of the most unlucky players in international cricket at the moment. This is because whenever a major tournament or series is hovering just over the horizon, Watson goes down with a major injury that keeps his sidelined for months on end.
However, when is he in red-hot form, Watson is definitely one of the most dangerous all-rounders in the game and one of the most entertaining to watch as well. But Watson has to ensure that he stays fit over the next couple of months since Australia will definitely require his bowling expertise in the final overs or during the batting powerplay, both of which are critical junctures in an ODI.
Watson will play a crucial role in Australia’s World Cup campaign since he is likely to occupy the pivotal number three spot in the batting line-up. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Watson’s bowling will be a decisive factor during World Cup matches since he a knack of picking up wickets when the team requires it most, while also restricting the flow of runs.
3. Michael Clarke
While captain Michael Clarke hasn’t played ODI cricket for a while now due to his chronic back problem, Australia will definitely be relying on him to be fit and healthy when the World Cup comes around. This is because he is one of the most experienced players in the side and is one of the most inventive captains Australia has ever produced.
Clarke’s batting will also be a major factor to Australia winning the World Cup since he is versatile and is one of the best players of spin in international cricket at the moment. This attribute will come in handy when Australia square off against subcontinent sides like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who rely heavily on spin bowling.
Clarke also has to ensure he makes the right decisions during the World Cup since he can become the first Australian captain to lead his side to World Cup glory on home soil. This will be an amazing achievement for Australian cricket as a World Cup victory would help inspire the next generation of Australian cricketers.
4. Nathan Lyon
Even though Australia and New Zealand are known for their pace-friendly pitches, Nathan Lyon is highly likely to be Australia’s go-to spinner during the World Cup. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that he excelled on home soil during the last Ashes series against England as he picked up 19 wickets at a brilliant average of 29.36.
Furthermore, Lyon has to ensure that he keeps bamboozling batsmen with his wide array of deliveries, including his new ball, which is only known as the ‘Jeff’. If this new delivery is perfected, it can prove to be a massive thorn in the sides of Australia’s opposition.
Since he is likely to be the only spinner in the squad, Lyon’s job during the World Cup will be to pick up quick wickets and keep the run rate down, which he has a history of doing since his average economy rate in ODIs stands at 4.52.
5. Steven Smith
Steven Smith will definitely be one of the specialist batsmen in Australia’s World Cup squad, especially after his superb performance in the recent ODI series against Pakistan. During that three-match series, Smith scored 190 runs, which included one century and one half-century, at a magnificent average of 63.33.
His main job during the World Cup will be to play the anchor role in case Australia lose quick wickets. Should this not happen, he will have to come out and take the attack to the opposition bowlers towards the end of the innings.
However, Smith is also quite a useful leg-spinner as he has picked up 26 ODI wickets at a respectable average of 32. If he can come in and take one or two wickets in quick succession, then he will be an even greater asset to the baggy greens during their World Cup campaign.
When David Warner was banned for 12 months due to the ball-tampering scandal many people questioned if he would return the same cricketer. Well, he hasn’t. Warner’s even better now. Certainly that is the case in T20s, the format he always looked primed to dominate yet never quite managed to master in his pre-ban career. […]