Fri, 24 May 2019

CWC 2019 team profile: Australia

News24
14 May 2019, 17:40 GMT+10

Cape Town - The 2019 Cricket World Cup gets underway on Thursday, May 30 when the Proteas take on England at The Oval in London.

With the squads all confirmed and the IPL now a thing of the past, attention will move swiftly to the World Cup and South Africa's efforts to finally taste success in a tournament that has haunted them for decades.

Sport24 will be bringing you all of the news you need to know before and during the showpiece.

Over the next two weeks, we will be profiling all 10 of the sides competing, highlighting their chances at the competition and players to look out for.

2019 CWC team profile: AFGHANISTAN

We'll be providing one team preview every day, moving along in alphabetical order.

Next up, we have defending champions, Australia.

AUSTRALIA

Overview

Australia are five-time World Cup champions and also defending champions. You never, ever write them off at this tournament. 'Sandpapergate' and a general lack of depth has forced a long, hard look internally in all formats over the past two years, but the Aussies have put together a strong and versatile 15-man squad together for 2019. They will not start as favourites this time around, but the returns of David Warner and former skipper Steve Smith give this side exactly the injection of quality they needed before defending their title. The Aussies play the Proteas in the last pool game for both sides before the semi-finals. It has the potential to be a massive fixture, with shades of 1999 written all over it.

Squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa

Coach: Justin Langer

Bookies prediction: 3rd

Best World Cup finish: Champions - 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015

Batsman to watch

It's impossible to separate the value of Warner and Smith. Warner, who finished this year's IPL as the leading run scorer, is brutal at the top of the order and can destroy any attack in world cricket. If he fires, then Australia will be half way towards challenging in England. Smith, on the other hand, is naturally less explosive but is rated as highly as anyone on the planet. He is measured, plays the situations perfectly and he knows exactly how to construct a match-winning innings. Ability aside, both players have a lot to prove, to their team-mates as well as the whole of Australia watching back home. This is a chance for redemption, and smashing Australia to a sixth World Cup title would go a long way. There are other batsmen who can play big roles - Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh included - but Warner and Smith surely hold the key.

Bowler to watch

Mitchell Starc will always be a danger, but the man who enters this tournament in red hot form is Pat Cummins. The 26-year-old has had a nightmarish run of injuries since he burst onto the scene as a youngster in 2011 - he went six years without playing a Test - but he is back to his best when it matters most. Cummins is currently the No 1 ranked bowler in Test cricket and No 6 in ODIs. He possesses a raw pace that has troubled the very best over the years, while his accuracy and control have made him as dangerous as ever. He will have able back-up in the form of Starc and spinners Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa, but a lot will depend on Cummins and his ability to make inroads up front.

Realistic expectation

Win or bust. That is and always has been the Australian way. They may not be favourites, but Australian cricket teams set out to win trophies. Anything else will be considered a failure. The truth, though, is that this Australian side has only recently found its feet after easily the darkest period in its history. Aaron Finch as skipper has a huge task on his hands to pull of something special, but the Aussies should have enough quality to at least make the semi-finals.

Fixtures

June 1 v Afghanistan (Bristol)

June 6 v West Indies (Nottingham)

June 9 v India (The Oval)

June 12 v Pakistan (Taunton)

June 15 v Sri Lanka (The Oval)

June 20 v Bangladesh (Nottingham)

June 25 v England (Lord's)

June 29 v New Zealand (Lord's)

July 6 v South Africa (Manchester)

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