It’s just a plain fact that Australia can’t win the World Cup and the Ashes.
Our ODI and Test teams are inexperienced at best. With the return of Steve Smith and David Warner, one wonders how long it will take them to adjust to not facing Sydney grade cricketers and Canadian T20 players anymore.
The lack of Test cricket between now and August creates a bit of a conundrum for how to prepare for the Ashes in particular. Unexpectedly, we now have four recent Test centurions, at least two of whom, will be unlikely to get much game time at the World Cup or face any international talent.
Let’s think about who will probably be at the World Cup and is also an Ashes contender. As mentioned, Smith and Warner will be back and will be considered for every fixture on English soil in the hope that they will get enough top tier form back to perform well.
Like the centurions, Mitchell Starc performed just in the nick of time to slide his neck out from under the guillotine. Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson and Josh Hazlewood (if fit) will also be in the mix. On the back of a team-leading batting season at home, one would think Travis Head will also appear in both squads.
There are other players who will be locks for one squad but not even looked at for the other.
There is also a long list of players who have a chance to make both squads, but certainly are not guaranteed: Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Siddle, Marcus Stoinis and on and on it goes.
If the ODI World Cup stirs passion amongst the public and the players, we should absolutely field our best 50-over team. We are a very strong ODI team and despite a patchy performance against India, we do tend to lift in the World Cup, in particular. We would be a strong chance of defending the trophy.
Do we even care about the World Cup that much though? It is nice to defend titles we already however we have won it five times and no other team even comes close to threatening that lead at the moment. India and the West Indies are next closest on two each. Yawn.
Pursuing the World Cup with all our might would mean that players about to play the Ashes, do not get any international opponents between now and August. They will then have to show up and play in conditions that has been unbearably hostile to touring Australian teams, for almost two decades.
Do we even care about the Ashes? Yes we really do. It is another title to defend and even more than that, an Ashes win in England is unprecedented in this era of Australian cricket. The last Australian team to do it, had recently just strung together 16 consecutive Test match wins ending earlier in the year.
The 2001 team was a phenomenal bunch of individuals. Their achievement, even with the talent that stuck around and followed them, has not been repeated. For any chance of this year being different, preparation is obviously the key.
So why waste time? Why not stack our World Cup squad with potential Ashes players? Joe Burns, Tim Paine and Kurtis Patterson seem to be way out of the conversation for World Cup spots but why not give them a chance in English conditions against the best bowlers in the world?
Of course white ball cricket is different to red ball cricket, but a strong mental game and problem-solving skills that are gained by playing the fiercest players is what Australia has lacked in recent years. Instead of banishing them from the international scene, give them all the experience they can get so that they get a good look at their English opposition.
Otherwise they will rock up to venues where we will expect performances at the drop of a hat and still be trying to remember how to play for their country.