With the 2019 Cricket World Cup just around the corner, it’s time for you to decide should represent Australia at the biggest cricket tournament of them all.
The official 15-man squad must be submitted to the International Cricket Council by April 23, but with Australia now having played their last game before that deadline, we want your picks now.
Some players are essentially guaranteed spots on the lineup, such as captain Aaron Finch and all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis. Opening batsman Usman Khawaja would also seem a likely selection given his recent rich form.
The rest of the batting positions in the squad are far less certain.
Steve Smith and David Warner have just become eligible to play for Australia after their 12-month suspensions ended. Their absence has opened up avenues for others to stake their claims, but the experience and talent of the former captain and vice-captain won’t be forgotten. Between the two of them, they’ve played 214 one-day internationals have more than 7000 runs.
But do they deserve to come straight back into a squad who have just won eight games on the trot?
In their absence, Shaun Marsh has stepped up in the one-day arena. The last time Australia played in England – a humiliating ODI series loss last year – Marsh accumulated 288 runs at 58 and was the only tourist to average more than 40 in that particular series. But in the recent tour of India, he could only manage 29 runs from three innings.
This slump couldn’t have come at a worse time for Marsh, putting his spot in question.
The position of wicketkeeper is also a hotly debated topic. Alex Carey is the most likely option, having become an automatic white-ball selection for Australia over the past year.
Another possibility is Peter Handscomb, who has piled up 1,045 at an average of 48 when playing as a wicketkeeper in List A cricket. His versatility is clearly appealing, but it would be a risk to take him as the only wicketkeeper in the squad – far more likely is him being picked as a back-up wicketkeeper/batsman option.
Tasmanian pair Matthew Wade and Tim Paine are the other options. Wade is in outstanding form with the bat, and his keeping has improved in recent years, but seems to be out of favour with the selectors, while Test skipper Paine seems confined to the five-day format despite being the best gloveman in the country.
Finally, there are the bowlers.
Current Allan Border Medallist Pat Cummins will be in the squad, of that there’s no doubt. But there are plenty of queries over the rest of the attack.
Jhye Richardson recently dislocated his shoulder and is in serious doubt for the tournament, while Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are recovering from injuries of their own.
Assuming spinners Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa are both picked in the squad, there’s likely to be three or four pace-bowling spots up for grabs outside of Cummins. Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Kane Richardson will all be vying for a place on top of the aforementioned injured trio.
Of course, Australia could opt to take just one spinner to England to free up an extra paceman, in which case they’d have to choose between Zampa’s leg-spin and Lyon’s offies.
We want you to tell us what the right approach is. You can do just that by picking your preferred 15-man squad in the form below and telling everyone your thoughts in the comments section below, and we’ll have the results up later in the week.