Australia are World Cup champions for a sixth time – and their path to glory in 2023 has been one of the most remarkable ever.
Down for the count in unfamiliar condition after beginning the tournament with consecutive losses, the Aussies reeled off nine straight wins to cruise into the semi-finals, then outlast South Africa in a tense knockout game, before dismantling hosts India for a famous six-wicket win to claim the title once more.
Along the way, David Warner sealed his ODI legacy with another magnificent campaign, Travis Head entrenched himself as a star of the game, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins started slow but came to the party when it was needed most, and Adam Zampa casually picked up 23 wickets in a stunning campaign.
Oh, and that Glenn Maxwell chap did a few nice things as well, or so we’re told.
Here are The Roar’s Australian player ratings for the 2023 World Cup.
David Warner – 8.5
11 games, 535 runs @ 48.63, SR 108.29, 2 100s, 2 50s, HS 163
If it wasn’t official before, it is now: David Warner is one of Australian cricket’s all-time greats.
Another spectacular World Cup from the polarising veteran, with his centuries against Pakistan and the Netherlands helping turn around the team’s shaky start to the tournament. His fielding, too, was never short of impeccable, and it was his great catch of Sri Lankan opener Pathum Nissanka when they were 0/125 and cruising that proved the turning point of Australia’s campaign.
Finished off with a disappointing pair of finals with the bat, but it’s fair to say Australia wouldn’t have made it that far without him.
Travis Head – 9
6 games, 329 runs @ 54.83, SR 127.51, 2 100s, 1 50, HS 137
It was a gutsy move by Australia to keep Head in the World Cup squad despite his fractured hand ruling him out of their first five matches; but even before his heroics in the final, the swashbuckling opener had well and truly repaid the faith.
Returning with a bang with a 59-ball century – and Player of the Match honours – in a thrilling win over New Zealand, Head saved his best for when it mattered most, with best-afield performances in both the semi-final and, of course, the decider, which included one of the greatest catches in World Cup history to see the back of Rohit Sharma in addition to his Herculean batting.
Head’s spectacular 137 to rescue the run chase against India would have to be in the top five Australian white-ball knocks ever… even if it wasn’t quite his team’s best of this tournament.
Mitchell Marsh – 7
10 games, 441 runs @ 49, SR 107.56, 2 100s, 1 50, HS 177*
A boom or bust tournament for the belligerent Western Australian, but when Marsh was on, he was ON.
Together with Warner, his 121 and 259-run opening stand against Pakistan announced Australia’s arrival as a World Cup force again; later on, his unbeaten 177 against Bangladesh made a difficult run chase look ridiculously easy.
Seldom required with the ball and picking up his only two wickets against the Netherlands, Marsh’s dropped catch to spare Virat Kohli in Australia’s first match of the tournament, plus his scratchy duck in the semi-final, were about the only real negatives out of an excellent campaign for surely the team’s next captain.
Steve Smith – 3.5
10 games, 302 runs @ 33.55, SR 80.96, 0 100s, 2 50s, HS 71
Just like in the Ashes, that Australia were able to succeed despite patchy contributions from their champion batter was an excellent sign of the team’s depth and newfound spread of stars.
Smith is not the destroyer of worlds he was at his prime, and while his spot in the team was never truly in jeopardy, half-centuries in big wins over the Netherlands and Bangladesh were his only major scores. Indeed, his fighting 46 against India in Australia’s opening-game loss was probably his best performance.
At 34, this is almost certainly Smith’s last World Cup – but whenever he wraps up his white-ball career, he’ll bow out as a two-time ODI champion, and one of the greats.
Marnus Labuschagne – 6
11 games, 362 runs @ 40.22, SR 70.70, 0 100s, 3 50s, HS 71
Just like his arrival onto the scene in the 2019 Ashes, Labuschagne has proved himself as a man who refuses to let go of any opportunity that presented itself in recent months.
Now on a 19-game consecutive ODI streak since being left out of Australia’s preliminary World Cup squad back in September, the Queenslander’s sluggish strike rate belies his important steadying role in the team’s middle order, particularly with Smith a diminished force.
A 71 against England proved the cornerstone to building a winning total on a tricky pitch, while he played Damien Martyn to Head’s Ricky Ponting in the final, his patient unbeaten 58 settling nerves after wickets fell freely at the start.
Sublime as always in the field, particularly in the dying stages of a tense win over New Zealand, he’s now all but earmarked as Smith’s long-term replacement as the ODI team’s middle-order anchor.
Glenn Maxwell – 9.5
9 games, 400 runs @ 66.67, SR 150.37, 2 100s, 0 50s, HS 201*, 6 wickets @ 55, SR 68.5, economy 4.81, BB 2/34
History will remember Maxwell’s record-fastest World Cup century against the Netherlands, and of course his outrageous, cramp-defying double-century in the heist of a lifetime against Afghanistan, as two of the greatest performances in the prestige tournament’s history.
But the all-rounder’s most consistent influence in India was with the ball; stepping up as the fifth bowler due to Ashton Agar’s injury, his accurate off-spin proved perilously difficult to get away in the middle overs, finishing the World Cup with an economy of well below five runs an over – and the prized wicket of Rohit Sharma in the final.
Still… it’s THAT 201 not out against Afghanistan, single-handedly rescuing Australia from oblivion in one of cricket’s most extraordinary ever innings, that cemented his legacy as a limited-overs champion.
Josh Inglis (wk) – 3.5
10 games, 159 runs @ 19.87, SR 94.64, 0 100s, 1 50, HS 58, 14 catches, 2 stumpings
Brought into the team after one match after Alex Carey was shockingly axed, it would be difficult to claim Inglis’ inclusion was the catalyst of Australia’s turnaround this tournament.
Still, the Western Australian had his moments, with a half-century against Sri Lanka seeing the Aussies home after a shaky start, while his 28 in the semi-final against South Africa was far more significant than it appears given the match situation and the hazardous conditions at hand.
Pouched a World Cup final record five catches in the decider, and his glovework certainly improved the longer the tournament went on – but expect Inglis to face stiff competition from Carey for his spot in the coming months and years.
Mitchell Starc – 5.5
10 games, 87 runs @ 12.42, 16 wickets @ 33, SR 32.62, economy 6.06, BB 3/34
Prior to the knockout stages, the left-armer was having an utterly miserable World Cup.
Far from the monolith he was at the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, Starc struggled to find swing, missed his yorkers at the death, and was plundered for runs by all and sundry while taking precious few wickets, the low point his 0/89 off nine horrible overs against New Zealand that very nearly allowed the Black Caps to chase down Australia’s 388.
In the semi-final and final, though, he showed that form is temporary and class is permanent, first wrecking South Africa’s top order with 3/34 and seeing the team home with an unbeaten 16 at the pointy end of the chase, then taking three more wickets in the final and ensuring India couldn’t surge in the last ten overs.
Pat Cummins – 6.5
11 games, 128 runs @ 32, 15 wickets @ 34.33, SR 35.8, economy 5.75, BB 3/51
His captaincy polarised, his bowling was mediocre, and he endured criticism for every accused misstep throughout the campaign: and yet Pat Cummins went and won the World Cup anyway.
In unhelpful conditions for him, the captain wasn’t the wicket-taking menace he is in Tests, but never stopped hitting the pitch hard and asking questions of the batters. He was rewarded for his persistence with a magnificent performance at the time of greatest need, his 2/34 in the final – and wicket of Virat Kohli – including not a single boundary as he tightened the screws on India.
His brave call to bowl first after winning the toss in Ahmedabad could easily have become his Nasser Hussain moment; instead, he looks an absolute genius, nicely putting all his critics back in their boxes.
Adam Zampa – 7.5
11 games, 48 runs @ 16, 23 wickets @ 22.39, SR 25.04, economy 5.36, BB 4/8
This was a strange tournament from Zampa: awful early, untouchable in the middle stages and then sloppy in the two knockouts, he finished the World Cup with the second-most wickets and a staggering seven more than any other spinner.
Taking four wickets in three consecutive games against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Netherlands and rediscovering his mojo, the leg-spinner’s best performance by far came against England: smacking 29 crucial runs with the bat, suffocating the Poms with 3/21 from ten immaculate overs and taking a brilliant catch in the outfield, it was almost the perfect all-round game.
Australia picked only one specialist spinner for this tournament – thanks to Zampa, it turned out that was all they needed.
Josh Hazlewood – 6.5
11 games, 16 wickets @ 28.06, SR 34.93, economy 4.81, BB 3/38
The most economical, and frequently the most dangerous, of Australia’s quicks, Hazlewood’s rise in recent years into white-ball stardom has given the attack a crucial extra dimension.
With a happy knack of popping up to take a crucial wicket or two, the Test star’s economy rate was equal-best among Australians alongside Maxwell, and considering he regularly bowled with the new ball and PowerPlay fielding restrictions, that’s some effort.
Bowling eight overs straight in perfect conditions for him in the semi-final, his spell of 2/12 from eight overs, including the prized scalps of Proteas guns Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen, deserves to rank as among the finest by an Australian at a World Cup.
Marcus Stoinis – 3
6 games, 87 runs @ 21.75, SR 112.98, 0 100s, 0 50s, HS 35, 4 wickets @ 35.75, SR 28.5, economy 7.52, BB 2/40
Maxwell’s incredible tournament with bat and ball lessened Australia’s reliance on Stoinis as an extra bowling option and late-innings hitter – but in truth, the all-rounder has looked a diminishing force for quite a while now.
Expensive with the ball and managing precious few runs with the bat save for a handy cameo against England, the 34-year old was overlooked for the steadier Labuschagne for the two knockout games, which proved a wise move.
Cameron Green’s rise, plus his own age, leaves his ODI future uncertain – but the Stoin has been a great contributor to Australian limited-overs cricket for the last decade.
Cameron Green – 3
3 games, 63 runs @ 21, SR 75.9, 0 100s, 0 50s, HS 47, 0 wickets, economy 5.5
By the time the next World Cup rolls around in 2027, Green may well be entrenched as Australia’s premier all-rounder in all formats and a superstar of the game – but for the moment, he has some questions to answer.
Too often becalmed and unable to rotate the strike with the bat, his classy 47 against England showed his quality – but his bowling was never going to be used much on Indian pitches unsuited to his style, limiting his ability to influence games.
It has been a 2023 of setbacks after losing his Test place to Mitchell Marsh, but the potential is still there in spades: more than anyone else in the Australian set-up, it is going to be a fascinating summer for Green as he vies to win back his spot.
Alex Carey – 0.5
1 game, 0 runs @ 0, 0 catches, 0 stumpings
A second-ball duck against India was all the evidence Australia needed to axe the long-term gloveman for the remainder of the World Cup – and while Josh Inglis didn’t set the world on fire, it would be hard to say Carey’s form heading into the tournament warranted further chances.
Having started the year brilliantly with the bat, his controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow has seen his runs in all formats slow to a trickle – given the ODI keeping role is now Inglis’ to lose and facing other fierce competitors for his role in the Test team, Carey would love a big summer to re-establish himself as indispensable to the Australian cause.
Sean Abbott – 6.5
1 game, 2 wickets @ 30.5, SR 30, economy 6.1
For years the first-choice back-up to Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood, Abbott’s one game at the World Cup was impressive enough, bowling tightly at the death against Bangladesh and picking up two wickets for his troubles.
With the golden trio all the wrong side of 30 and likely to be slowly phased out of white-ball cricket in coming years, Abbott, at nearly 32, has an important role to play leading into the next World Cup in 2027, even if it’s far from a guarantee he will be part of that squad.