If David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins play to their ability, Australia will retain the World Cup.
For Warner and Smith, back in the side after their 12-month suspensions, it will be a welcome return. They did the sandpapergate crime and have done the time. Now it’s back to business.
Warner’s magnificent IPL campaign saw him win the coveted Orange Cap as the tournament’s leading run-getter, with 692 from just 12 games for Sunrisers Hyderabad, 99 more runs than second-placed Lokesh Rahul’s 593 from 14 games and 163 more than Quinton de Kock’s 529 from 16 games in third.
In the process Warner made the most half-centuries, with eight, from Rahul’s six, struck the second-highest number of fours, with 57, to Shikhar Dhawan’s 64 from four more games, and the second highest average of 69.20 to MS Dhoni’s 83.20, with seven not outs among his 12 digs.
And before the naysayers change into overdrive knocking the IPL, for Warner to return figures so much better than anyone else says volumes for the way he was striking the ball at the rapid rate of 143.86 and outscoring many of the world’s top T20 batsmen with ease.
Sure, he had a let-down with 39, zero and two in the warm-up games in Brisbane on return, but that was just the lull before the storm that’s about to hit in the World Cup.
Warner must open in the cup for two reasons. He is a far more devastating batsman than Aaron Finch or Usman Khawaja, and Warner runs every run hard, ever alert to fielding errors for bonus runs. Both Finch and Khawaja are lazy runners, but Warner will hurry them along to the benefit of the side.
But Khawaja and Finch are the two leading ODI run-getters in 2019. Khawaja shows the way with 769 runs at 59.15 with a strike rate of 83.58, with Finch second on 634 runs at 52.83 with a strike rate of 81.38.
Which one of the two joins Warner as the opening pair will be decided in the two warm-up games against England at the Rose Bowl on 25 May and against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl on 27 May.
Whoever misses out will bat at No. 3, followed by Steve Smith, who had an ordinary IPL with Rajasthan Royals, finishing 27th among the tournament run-getters with 319 at 39.87. But on his return for the New Zealand series in Brisbane Smith teed off with 22, 89* and 91* to prove he’s ready to fire in the World Cup.
And so will Glenn Maxwell with the bat and Pat Cummins with the ball. So far this year Maxwell has cracked 458 ODI runs at 41.63 with the rapid strike rate of 126.51. And to keep up the positive momentum he added 52 and 70 in his two appearances against the Kiwis.
As for Cummins, he’ll be the shining light of the World Cup and is a must to open the bowling for Australia with Mitchell Starc. In 2019 Cummins has 17 ODI wickets at a miserly 14.29 with a strike rate of 19.5, and he’s returned 3-36 and 4-32 in his two shots at New Zealand.
So buckle up the seat belts, folks, as David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins give opponents a mighty rocky ride on the way to lifting the trophy again.