A talking point that often comes up regarding the state of cricket is the balance between bat and ball.
The World Cup is less than a year away and all teams have been busy trying to figure out the combinations for the marquee tournament.
However, the Australian team received a huge setback with bans to Steven Smith and David Warner, which has put a huge dampener on their preparations. The ODI team is still unsettled, with lots of young players still trying to find their feet, and the bowling attack has suffered because of injuries to Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
The one thing which is missing from the Australian bowling attack is a good attacking spinner. Ashton Agar has been tried with limited success. Agar is a good lower order all-rounder but is not the wicket-taking spinner Australia is looking for.
The JLT One-Day Cup is about to begin, and it will be interesting to see what names the tournament will throw up.
In last year’s one-day cup the highest wicket-taker among spinners was 36-year-old Fawad Ahmed. Ahmed picked up 12 wickets at an average of 26.8 for Victoria last season. The second-best bowler of the last season was Cameron Boyce, who picked up ten wickets at an average of 29.70. Both Fawad and Boyce are attacking leg spinners and their performances will once again be monitored this season.
Nathan Lyon also had a good one-day campaign last season, picking up nine wickets at 27.22. D’Arcy Short, who is an opening batsman, was also among the wicket-takers with his left-arm wrist spin – he had nine wickets at 33.88.
Mitchell Swepson had poor returns last season, picking up six wickets at 50.83, which is closer to his overall List A record. Adam Zampa rounds it off with four wickets at 22, but he played just two games last season.
Spin has become a huge part of all limited-overs side over the last few years. South Africa, who in the past were not known for spin, now have at least three good spinners in their mix. All top ODI sides at least have one good spinner in their World Cup plans. The weather in England over the last couple of years has been dry, and spin has played a huge part in the shorter formats.
The Australian team, though, have struggled to find a consistent spinner for the limited-overs side. Nathan Lyon, who is a legend of Australian cricket in the Test format, doesn’t play ODI cricket for Australia. Fawad Ahmed played three games for Australia with poor returns.
Cameron Boyce played few international T20 games for Australia and did well, but he’s never to play again. Adam Zampa, who has more international limited-overs experience than all the above-mentioned spinners, is no longer in favour for the national side.
The Australian team will have a great pace attack once their first-choice pacers return, but having a good spin bowler in the middle overs will be crucial. With wrist spinners being the flavour of the month, Australia would do well to keep an eye out on this year’s one-day cup.
Boyce and Zampa have the age and talent on their side. Agar will also be in the mix but, again, he comes across as a good containing bowler but doesn’t pick up wickets in the middle overs.
This season’s JLT One-Day Cup will be an interesting one as the Australian ODI team is far from settled. The team has lost 17 out of the last 25 games since January 2017.
The Australian limited-overs side has been struggling to find the right personnel over the last few years, and this tournament might be the starting point in unearthing some good talented players.
The bowling has been Australia’s strongest suit over the last couple of years, and the addition of a good young spinner will make it much more lethal in English conditions.