AT ONE point this year, you could have made a strong case that Australia were barely worth calling dark horses to retain their title, such had been their lack of form since lifting the trophy on home soil.
Yet from 2-0 down away in India, the Australians produced a
dramatic turnaround to win 3-2 and with Steve Smith and David Warner now back
in the fold, confidence has been restored.
It helps when you have fast-bowling stocks that most
countries can only dream of, particularly for an event in England. And under
the leadership of the big-hitting Aaron Finch, the hope is that the series win
in India can be the turning point for the five-time champions.
Finch explained after the India success: “The resilience we
showed and the fight we showed being down 2-0, it would have been easy to roll
over, let the small moments in the game drift away and India win the series.
“The fight we showed, we’ve had our backs against the wall for quite a while now so I’m really proud of the group.”
Having won four of the last five World Cups, it would be
easy to peg Australia as the favourites to do it again, but this side is
relatively inexperienced compared to some of their rivals.
The big question will be over who to leave out of the
quicks. Pat Cummins as vice-captain is surely in, and it is hard to see
Mitchell Starc missing out, four years after being named player of the
That leaves Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Kane
Richardson, called up to replace namesake Jhye, fighting for likely one spot.
There is a similar dilemma at the top of the order where
Usman Khawaja has flourished while Warner and Smith were in international
There is no question that either of the returning pair might miss out, but where they will fit into the line-up will be a big call for coach Justin Langer.
Add in Glenn Maxwell, the X-factor and most versatile member
of the side – as well as spin duo Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon – and there is a
lot to like about this Australian team.
There’s an old adage about never writing off the Aussies but
the question is will they be able to gel in time?
Finch is certainly confident, and the fact that he is one of six players who were part of the victorious side in 2015 plays in their favour.
“I think it’s a big advantage, just to know what it takes to win a World Cup and what it takes to manage your way through a campaign which can be difficult,” he said. “You have to be at your best at the business end but you can’t afford to let anything slip at the start.”
PAUL EDDISON / Photos: Getty Images