The selectors have made their decisions about who will play in the World Cup and, as per usual, much has been made about our squad. It’s too late to offer suggestions on who should be in the squad, but it’s worthwhile looking at how this team should play.
The following table compares the teams I think will represent England, Australia and India, assuming all players are fit and in form.
|Hales/Roy||Aaron Finch||Rohit Sharma|
|Jonny Bairstow||Warner/Khawaja||Shikar Dhawan|
|Joe Root||Warner/Khawaja||Virat Kohli|
|Eoin Morgan||Steve Smith||MS Dhoni|
|Jos Buttler||Glenn Maxwell||Kedar Jadhav|
|Ben Stokes||Alex Carey||Hardik Pandiya|
|Moeen Ali||Stoinis/Coulter-Nile||Bhuveneshwar Kumar|
|Sam Curran||Pat Cummins||Mohammed Shami|
|Adil Rashid||Mitchell Starc||Kuldeep Yadav|
|Mark Wood||Adam Zampa||Jasprit Bumrah|
Much has been made about England’s resurgence in ODI cricket after their poor showing in 2015. They have an attacking batting line-up and their approach is to be aggressive from ball one.
This approach can be both spectacular and a complete flop as they displayed in the West Indies, with scores of 413 and 113 in the same series.
The obvious reason for their success is the depth of their batting, with Adil Rashid at ten and quite capable of scoring at a run a ball. They also have a number of players with strike rates over a hundred and they have created the aura that no score is too big for them to chase down.
The trade-off for such a long batting line-up is a lack of a quality ODI attack. This problem was highlighted when they played Scotland last year. The Scots faced four of the bowlers mentioned in the list above and managed to score 371, with the best of the Englishmen going for 6.6 runs per over. England could not run this score down, even though they had nine of their best team playing that game.
India’s ODI team has also been successful in recent years. During the recent ODI series in India, I recall commentators saying Virat Kohli’s men had won over 70 per cent of their recent games (versus a 23 per cent win rate for Australia at the same time).
Their batting is dominated by an experienced and talented top four, who regularly make a lot of runs very quickly. These players are complemented by a very strong bowling attack, including four bowlers who rate in the top 15 of the current world ODI rankings. This combination gives the Indian side much more balance than England’s, as well as far more variety in attack.
They do have one weakness which Australia exploited in their series victory last month. They depend so heavily on the top four making scores and batting the majority of the overs, that if they are dismissed cheaply, the rest of the side struggles to recover.
Who, then, should Australia try and emulate?
In recent weeks, there have been lots of articles suggesting Australia needs to emulate England, but the reality is we can’t hope to match up with them with the squad that’s been chosen. The table makes it clear our batting depth is okay, but nowhere near theirs.
We match up much more readily with India, where our top five, while not as explosive, have learnt how to make enough runs to win games without putting huge pressure on the lower order.
This should mean that in an Australian score of 350, our top five has scored at least 280 of those, leaving the other six guys the task of scoring 70, which should be readily achievable.
Listen as The Roar’s new podcast, Game of Codes, breaks down the Australian World Cup squad.
This also means our top five taking fewer risks early on than either England or India, getting away to solid rather than spectacular starts, but maintaining around five or six an over until the last ten overs then accelerating.
We don’t have the explosive hitters down the order, so it’s up to the top order to score enough runs, so the bottom four isn’t faced with the prospect of trying to go at ten an over for ten overs in order to make a decent score. That simply won’t happen. At best, they should be asked to get a run a ball and anything on top’s a bonus.
We also need to have faith in our bowlers to get sides out, or restrict their totals so we win games. Pat Cummins showed he’s world-class in both India and the UAE, Adam Zampa has them coming out of his hand nicely, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jhye Richardson will be a handful in England with the Dukes ball and Starc could be the explosive wild card, assuming he’s bowling with rhythm and purpose.
Australia needs to forget about playing an English style ODI cricket and focus on our strengths. We’ve shown we can beat the number two side in world cricket on their home turf and if we play to our strengths, there’s no reason why we can’t beat the number one side either.