About a year or so ago, Australia were struggling in ODI cricket. Their ranking dropped considerably and they entered the ICC World Cup ranked fifth. After the bans on Smith and Warner, Aaron Finch was named captain of Australia’s white-ball sides. 2018 was quite a forgetful year for the Aussies in all formats of the game. It was worse in ODIs though. They managed to win just 2 out of the 13 games in the year.
Justin Langer who took over as a coach last year kept on thinking positively and had faith in his squad and the captain, Aaron Finch. The results began showing early in 2019, when they won a 5-match ODI series in India after being 2-0 down. They then went to the UAE and swept Pakistan aside with a 5-0 whitewash. Heading into the World Cup, they have some in-form players and their two prized possessions back, in David Warner and Rajasthan Royals skipper, Steve Smith. With the kind of form he is in, Smudge will prove to be a difficult batsman to dismiss for opposition bowlers.
Steve Smith – Runs: 3431, Ave: 41.84, SR: 86.3, 50s: 19, 100s: 8
Steve Smith is one of the members in the current Australian squad who won the World Cup in 2015, under Michael Clarke’s captaincy. He had a very successful tournament, scoring 402 runs and ending up as the leading run-scorer for Australia. Smith scored 4 fifties and 1 hundred, averaging 67 and striking at a little over 90.
Steve Smith had a tough 2018, spending most of his time out of professional cricket. He spent time doing some social work and helping youngsters deal with tough situations. “6 men and 2 women take their lives every day in Australia, which is a shocking and staggering statistic. To try and help change this, I’ve been going out to schools in Australia to talk to people, encourage them to show emotions and talk about what’s on their mind. Sharing my story about what’s gone on this past year was therapeutic but also helped me make a difference”
He played in the Canadian T20 League as well as the Bangladsh Premier League, before returning to play for Rajasthan Royals after 4 years. Smith took his time to settle in and some of his shots didn’t really come off in the first few games. However, it was a matter of time, and it arrived soon enough. Smith eased into the captaincy role and ended up scoring three fifties for the Royals.
After his stint with Rajasthan Royals, Smith went to Australia to face the Kiwis in 3 warm-up matches. He started off with a sedate 22, but lifted his game to stay unbeaten on 89 and 91 in his next two games of the series. Australia travelled to England and played three warm-up matches. Smudge got his chance to bat in two of the three games and he relished both opportunities, scoring 76 against West Indies and a lovely 116 against England.
Steve Smith is in the right frame of mind and is in prime form heading into the World Cup. The hunger to score runs is visible In his eyes and that is a dangerous sign for all bowlers in the World Cup.
Australia seem to have a well-balanced side. They have the fire-power in the top and the middle order. With finishers like Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis in the side, we can expect consistent scores of over 300 from them. The bowling, led by the likes of Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon has the metle to rattle a lot of opposition batsmen. Australia will be happy that they are nowhere close to where they were, at the start of this year. They have won more World Cup titles than any other team – 5 of them; and massive tournaments is where they tend to bring their A game to the fore. This World Cup could be testing for the lads, and their stay in England won’t end right after the World Cup, with the Ashes in hindsight.