Australia - not feared as in past

Australia - not feared as in past

20th March 2011, Sydney

Australia ended their 34 match and 12 year winning streak in the World Cup after going down to Pakistan by 4 wickets. They finished 3rd in Group A after a rain affected match against Sri Lanka saved them from near defeat.

Australia looked stodgy whilst defeating minnows Kenya by 60 runs, Canada by 7 wickets and Zimbabwe by 91 runs.

Their pace-based attack of Tait, Lee and Johnson have taken wickets against the minnows but looked out of sorts when confronted by the top orders of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They did destroy New Zealand's batting in an earlier match that was won by a crushing 7 wickets, their most impressive win to date. The spinners - Krejza and Smith - have been found wanting in conducive conditions.

Ricky Ponting has been woefully out of form, and the pressure of leading a below par team seems to be getting to him after he let his frustrations boil over in several petulant displays - he was accused of cheating after smashing a ball into the gloves of Kamran Akmal, embarrasing team mate Steve Smith, and smashing a TV in the dressing room after being dismissed cheaply. There is also concern if Australia's batting can last on wearing spin friendly pitches, a fact Ponting did his team a dis-service by highlighting in an outburst in his press conference that slammed the Colombo RPS pitch as "rolled mud".

 

17 Feb 2011, Mumbai

Australia made a poor fist of its 2 practice games after losing to both India and South Africa. There was a common element to both defeats as the Australian batsmen were unable to come to terms with the spin attacks on display as they succumbed to being all out in both games in under 50 overs. Furthermore, the initial results of its pace heavy attack was disappointing on the low slow pitches. The only positives was the return of Ricky Ponting after a 6 week layoff from a finger injury and the continued good batting form of Michael Clarke.

 

7 Feb 2011, Sydney: Preview of Australia

Predicted win odds: 60%

Australia is the current holders of the ICC World Cup. They have now won the cup a record 4 times (1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007). Ricky Ponting returns from injury after missing the 5th Ashes test and the entire 7 ODI series against England. Australia is coached by Tim Nielsen. They have a win-loss record in world cups of 51-17, plus the famous tie against South Africa in the 1999 World Cup Semi-final. The batting revolves around the in-form opener Shane Watson and the experienced duo of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. The pace attack is led by veteran Brett Lee, and is supported by Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait – all capable of exceeding 150kmh.

Strengths: Australia is ranked No. 1 in the ODI standings and recently beat England 6-1 in the ODI series leading into the World Cup. Both teams were injury hit and the conditions in Australia are vastly different to that of the sub-continent. Whilst they have been in steady decline, there is a good mixture of experience and newcomers who are ready to make their mark on the world stage. There is also a lot of recent IPL-exposure amongst many squad members such as Bollinger, Hussey etc that will enable the lesser lights to settle down quickly to the Indian conditions.

Weaknesses: This is Ponting’s last chance to reclaim some glory after a record 3rd Ashes defeat. He will be under tremendous pressure to deliver with the bat as well after a lean trot. Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden are all gone, and so has the fear factor for other teams. Their replacements are still feeling their way in world cricket. Australia are banking too much on their pace attack to make the in-roads. This strategy could backfire on the slow, low pitches, and large totals could be posted by opposing batsman. A lack of quality specialist spinners will also hurt Australia, especially if it cannot exploit a turning pitch when bowling second. Even Australia’s fielding is not as good as it used to be with standards dropping.

Australia World Cup squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Jason Krejza, David Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Cameron White

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