With the days dwindling until their first official World Cup fixture against Afghanistan on June 1, the Australian set up still finds itself grappling with the constitution of their preferred top order.
We must be realistic about expectations for the Ashes and World Cup following Australia’s stunning resurgence in India. That’s why I’m listing our chances for the double at $1.01.
It’s been an encouraging few weeks for Australian cricket, with welcome Shield runs, depth-fattening bowling and Matt Wade’s ignored returns all invigorating hopes of returning from the northern hemisphere with reputation and soul intact.
But toppling the subcontinental superpower in its own backyard has surged hope to new and unreasonable levels, and that’s because the famous win showcased an enlightening new strategy.
Instead of picking the worst-performed batsman as captain and blaming Glenn Maxwell for not performing miracles, the new plan is picking the worst-performed batsman as captain and blaming Glenn Maxwell for not performing miracles and winning.
And the reason we’re cock-a-hoop?
Because this cunning approach is way better than Australia’s previous plan for the winter, which was simply hoping England would stuff it up.
As the experts attest, if our boys are to capture the World Cup and Ashes double, there’s a good chance we’ll have to beat England.
The home side are red-hot favourites for the twin trophies, an accomplishment local analysts predict could catapult the game’s popularity above national sports like football and constitutional crises.
On the other hand, Australia were approaching the campaign having endured a home summer that was okay, provided you didn’t watch the cricket.
Comparing the pair’s recent attributes indicated a one-sided battle loomed, with England boasting cagey seamers, a multi-faceted spin attack and an ability to chase two totals in one innings, while Australia had a retro kit.
This saw everyone in agreeing on one thing: Justin Langer’s side’s only chance of toppling England was if they turned up and it was 1995.
As a way of winning cricket matches, arriving in the Old Dart hoping it’s the mid-90s could be completely idiotic, but it’s not implausible when you consider Australia’s dubious claims of WMDs and dial-up-speed run-scoring.
It was a blueprint that at least provided a glimmer of hope. All our men had to do was improve in batting, bowling and fielding and then pray Joe Root’s side were still afflicted by the crippling psychological baggage of its predecessors last seen a decade ago.
The approach is similar to previous times we relied on England being useless, such as the fifth Test in 2005 and the London Olympics. These basically involved turning up and calling opponents names like “useless Poms” and “Sherminator” and chinning their captain in a bar.
For those unaware, the Mother Country’s psychological shortcomings from their pre-resurgence were, in a few words, probably medical.
The famous navy blue cap would melt at the mere mention of 130 kilometres or bottle-blonde leg spin, sending them into a spin of sacking everyone and picking anyone before making awful decisions at the toss and tampering the ball. Like Australia today, only with two pullovers.
Game plans were shot before taking the field, with batsmen trudging to the middle like cows to an abattoir before their docile bowling all-rounders were worked over like they were going out of style, because they had.
England cricket’s malaise even permeated other codes, afflicting its national football side and gutting the country of all athletic capability outside of darts.
Once the nation hit its rock bottom moment of having only one national sporting icon – Mel C – the government was forced into action, introducing a lottery-funded sporting program that used public funds to lure Australian coaches and any South African who could hold a stick.
All Australia needed in 2019 was for these dormant issues to resurface for England right around the beginning of the World Cup, if they still exist.
But now we’re good again, our boys can concentrate on the ball, not playing East 17 on the bus and asking locals what they think of John Major.
And if it fails, we can just buy back Eddie Jones.