Pat Cummins says “in a perfect world” leading Australia in Test cricket would not be the first taste of captaincy for the likes of he and Marnus Labuschagne.
Defending champions Australia open their campaign on Saturday, 1 June, against Afghanistan.
The Aussies then line up against the West Indies (6 June), India (9 June) and Pakistan (12 June). After facing Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, their match against hosts and pre-tournament favourites England is on 25 June before they sign off against New Zealand and South Africa.
The composition of the Australian team is as follows.
Batsmen: Aaron Finch (captain), David Warner, Steve Smith, Usmaan Khwaja and Shaun Marsh.
Wicketkeeper: Alex Carey.
All-rounders: Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, with both being batting allrounders.
Spinners: Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon.
Fast bowlers: Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff.
A SWOT analysis identifies internal strengths and weaknesses and also external threats and opportunities. You can read my SWOT analysis of India here, but let’s now run a SWOT analysis of the Australian team.
Nothing succeeds like success and no-one is more successful than Australia in the World Cup. They have won the tournmanet five times, including three times in a row, and they have reached four finals in a row, with all three stats standalone records.
Australia have a strong batting line-up and a handy attack. Most importantly, they are peaking at the right time. When they lost 0-5 to England and seemed out of sorts, but coach Justin Langer has brought about a transformation that had them defeat India 3-2 on tour and win 5-0 against Pakistan to show they are back in business.
Their World Cup history and their good current form will give the Aussies confidence they will go deep into the tournament and maybe retain the prize.
Steve Smith and David Warner have not been in the team since they began serving their bans for the ball-tampering scandal early last year. Their lack of match practice in the 50-over format may be an issue. Of course they played in the IPL, but it remains to be seen whether they can make the quick transition from club T20 to international ODIs. Being quality players, they will probably get it right.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey is inexperienced and does not have a backup, which is a major issue as well.
The main opportunity for opponent teams is that the Aussie middle order can be susceptible to spin. One of the main reasons for the 0-5 loss to England was the success of spin twins Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, who took 12 wickets each. Their opponents, most of whom have got good spinners, will seek to take advantage of this perceived susceptibility.
Peter Handscomb will feel unlucky to miss out as he is in good form and has adjusted to the Aussie playing 11, plus he is also a fine player of spin. Australia will seek to have Steve Smith rise to the occasion to address this issue.
The bowling attack looks great, but the fitness of the bowlers is questionable – some are injury-prone and it’s a long tournament. Virtually no match can be taken lightly. The oower hitters of West Indies, the balanced teams of England and India and the good spinners in almost every team could derail the Aussie campaign.
Overall, however, Australia is not just a contender but also one of the favourites to claim the 2019 World Cup.