Australia aim to continue velocity mantra in Zimbabwe

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:尉迟鲶轾 来源:云顶集团4008 点击:101 次

Almost five months since their last international engagements, a yawning but welcome gap for the players ahead of another bruising 12-month schedule, Australia’s one-day international cricketers begin their preparations for next February’s World Cup with a tri-series in Zimbabwe.

As well as being Australia’s first visit to the host nation in a decade the series will also pit the core of Australia’s likely World Cup squad against the South Africans, (although level on ranking points with Sri Lanka). The Australians sit at the top of that table.

It’s tempting to view such a low-key resumption to international action as insignificant but after this short stop-off and a Test and one-day internationals against Pakistan in the UAE the Australians have little more than a dozen 50-over encounters (three in the UAE and nine against South Africa, India and England during the home summer plus finals) in which to prepare for the World Cup. They’ll face a variety of opposition but it’s a lean schedule from which they’ll need to get things humming along.

Absent in Zimbabwe are David Warner – – and the injured Shane Watson, but Darren Lehmann, Michael Clarke and Rod Marsh’s new-look national selection panel will be keen to establish something close to their preferred line-up in the next couple of months. Unlucky to be excluded from the original squad, for Watson though keeper Brad Haddin might still partner Aaron Finch at the top of the order.

Most surprisingly of all and with an eye to February, off-spinner Nathan Lyon deposes Xavier Doherty as Australia’s only specialist slow bowler in the 14-man man squad. Likewise, despite being a stranger to the national 50-over scene for the last couple of seasons, Steve Smith’s unerring consistency in all formats over the last 12 months has won him a spot.

Smith’s 50-over form was excellent in last season’s Ryobi Cup and short on specialist batsmen, Australia will be tempted to play him in their first XI against Zimbabwe on Monday. Michael Clarke and George Bailey are the only other specialist batsmen in the squad and their middle order runs will be followed by plenty of lower-order hitting with faith placed in a broad-shouldered array of all-round options.

Glenn Maxwell will bring his usual frenetic tempo to all three facets of the game and Mitchell Marsh will look to use his eye-catching recent form for Australia A as a launching pad for bigger things. The hope remains that Marsh’s raw elements of genuine pace and brutal hitting will combine into something potent. Queenslander Ben Cutting also looms as an intriguing prospect having started his career as an out and out fast bowler before morphing into one of the most explosive lower order hitters in Australia. If and when he plays he may even be strategically deployed up the order.

Over the last 12 months of Australia’s multi-format resurgence, Lehmann grew fond of using the word ‘velocity’ as both a selection criteria and a kind of unofficial team mantra. It’s a philosophy that is plain to see in this squad, particularly the likes of Cutting, Marsh and South Australian paceman Kane Richardson, who impressed in the recent A-series in Darwin and takes the place vacated by the injured James Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Along with Doherty, Clint McKay’s waning form in the last 12 months has seen him excluded from the squad but at least he can say that he’s been dealt with transparently. “In the last 12 months he hasn’t delivered with the new ball for us,” , “and his speed isn’t up to scratch for us and that’s the message we’ve sent to him.”

That express pace comes in the form of the reborn Mitchell Johnson and the returning Mitchell Starc with hopes high that the latter can hoop the white ball around as he’s when his body has permitted. James Faulkner will arrive at the crease from the same angle but offer variations of pace and no ground is big enough to contain the hitting of all three when they wield the bat.

Any combination from the selected squad will bat down as far as 10. How that plays out in Zimbabwe and in the UAE remains to be seen – Lehmann rightly said that the Australians will be rusty - but looking to the horizon the short-form selection policy appears at the outset a sound strategy for the more pressing matter of the World Cup.

Australia squad

Michael Clarke (capt), Aaron Finch, Phillip Hughes, George Bailey, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Cutting, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Nathan Lyon.

  • The Guardian will be providing live, over-by-over coverage of Australia’s ODIs against South Africa in the upcoming series