A talking point that often comes up regarding the state of cricket is the balance between bat and ball.
With the 2015 tournament wrapped up, the Aussies can begin preparing for their World Cup title defence in England.
Michael Clarke has retired from limited overs cricket, Brad Haddin is expected to follow, and Mitchell Johnson will be 37, but other than those three the team should, barring injury and loss of form, maintain its nucleus.
Aaron Finch and David Warner should be facing the new ball in England for the 2019 tournament. Although Finch wasn’t consistent during this year’s competition, he would’ve learnt a lot during the campaign.
Steve Smith will lead from the front at number three in what will be his third World Cup. There’s no doubting Smith’s position.
I’ve gone with Callum Ferguson at four because of his good first-class form in recent years, as well as his ODI experience. Ferguson will be 34 at the start of the next tournament, but a lack of batsmen knocking on the door sees him selected in the middle order.
Glenn Maxwell will be a limited overs veteran by this stage, so I’m backing him to step into the five slot, much like Andrew Symonds did during his career. Maxwell obviously adds a dimension with the ball and in the field, but I expect him to evolve substantially as a middle-order batsman over the coming years. I’m not sure if he will figure in Test calculations, but surely those aspirations will fuel his ODI performances for Australia.
Mitchell Marsh got a taste for World Cup cricket and, like Finch, he will be better for the experience. Marsh has a huge future for Australia, and I even toyed with batting him higher up the order. A lesser team probably would play Marsh at four or five, but his selection at six is testament to Australia’s depth.
The man of the match for the 2015 World Cup final, James Faulkner, will follow at seven. Like Marsh, the position doesn’t justify his batting capability – the all-rounder could be picked purely on either discipline. Faulkner will be a mainstay in the ODI set-up and will most likely jostle with Marsh for a Test berth in the coming years.
The heir apparent to Brad Haddin behind the stumps, particularly in limited overs cricket, appears to be Matthew Wade. The Victorian filled in for Haddin during the South African ODI series before the Indian Tests, and has grown as leader for his state. Wade has shown he can open the batting in 50-over cricket, but the current top three will be the backbone for Australia in the 2019 World Cup.
The man of the series and the best ODI bowler in the world follows Wade, and would be the first player picked behind Smith. Mitchell Starc was brilliant this year and should only get better with experience. He will take the new ball for Australia, at least in coloured clothing, for many, many years to come.
The remaining two spots are tricky as Australia has strong bowling depth, particularly with the white ball. Based on their undoubted talent and current rankings within Cricket Australia, it’s hard to look past Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. Hazlewood grew in confidence throughout the tournament and provides metronomic accuracy, while Cummins will hopefully evolve into the star we all anticipated him to be when he rocked South Africa in 2011.
For the remaining spots I’ve picked one spinner, one batsman and two quick bowlers: Ashton Agar, Gurinder Sandhu, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Nic Maddinson.
Agar won a line-ball call with Adam Zampa as the team’s spinner. Zampa had a brilliant domestic one-day season with South Australia but Agar’s value with the bat will get him the guernsey. Agar could potentially bat anywhere between six and eight, giving the team much-needed flexibility.
Sandhu and Coulter-Nile speak for themselves, however if one of Starc or Cummins were to go down injured Australia would look at James Pattinson, Joel Paris or Jason Behrendorff as replacements. Pattinson provides aggression, which Australia prides its play on, while the two left-armers in Paris and Behrendorff are coming off remarkable seasons with Western Australia. At just 22, Paris is one to keep an eye on.
The final call is the most contentious, especially considering his one-day average hovers around the 20s. There’s no doubting Maddinson is a huge talent, it just hasn’t clicked for him yet. He has shown signs of his promise with the odd spectacular innings, but he needs to develop consistency if he is to be considered for national honours. I, optimistically, expect Maddinson to realise his talent in the next four years.
South Australia’s new skipper Travis Head was another name I looked at, but despite his aggressive play, I consider him more of a red-ball cricketer. Likewise Usman Khawaja, who had a strong one-day season with Queensland before he was cut down by injury. Tim Ludeman is another option and is most-likely to threaten Wade’s position.
Australia’s 2019 squad