ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: Australia squad complete analysis. The balanced Australian squad likely to go for the kill in World Cup 2023
Five-time world champions Australia have confirmed their 15-member squad for the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023. The 2015 World Cup champion side would look to go a couple of steps ahead of their performance in the 2019 World Cup, where they fell short against arch-rival England in the semi-final stage.
In the recently concluded three-match ODI series in India, the third-ranked side in ICC Men’s ODI team rankings had a tough time - losing to the home side by a margin of 2-1.
Marnus Labuschagne replaced injured Ashton Agar in the ODI squad
There are a fair bit of changes in the Australia squad from the last ODI World Cup. They will carry an injured Travis Head, who could miss the first 3-4 games of the tournament after getting a hand fracture in the game against South Africa.
However, the selectors have provided them with a cushion in batting options by including Marnus Labuschagne at the expense of Ashton Agar, who has been ruled out of the competition with a calf injury from the preliminary squad.
“This was a tough call but unfortunately we couldn’t carry both Travis & Ashton into the tournament with the injuries they have,” Australia’s chair of selectors George Bailey said regarding the injuries. “We have made the decision to carry Travis through the early stages, with the aim of him being available around the mid part of the tournament.”
Australia’s final Cricket World Cup 2023 Squad
Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Davis Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc.
The side looks balanced with some veteran players in all the departments. With so many players on the verge of retiring, Australia will certainly look to go for their sixth title this time.
Let’s assess the whole squad in three parts:
A stable top order which plays the aggressive brand of cricket
With the change of intent in the recent ODI cricket, every team has an expressive top order which can take full advantage of the powerplay to provide a quick start to his side. Especially on the batting-friendly surfaces of India and with the possibility of dew coming in the evening, every team will aim to put up huge scores.
With Head being injured, Australia will look to utilize the opening combination of Mitchell Marsh and David Warner. The former has been in red-hot form in 2023 - with 417 runs in 10 ODI innings at an average of 46.3 and strike rate of 121.6 with four half centuries.
Warner too has been in top form, having scored 391 runs in nine ODI innings in 2023 at an average of 43.4 and strike rate of 119.6 with four fifties and one hundred. When it comes to playing ODIs in India, the pocket dynamite has smashed 575 runs in 12 innings at an average of 52.3 and strike rate of 104.5 with four half centuries and two centuries with a best score of 128.
Even though Steve Smith hasn’t played many 50-over games in 2023 - with just 137 runs in five innings - he can certainly tackle the spin bowlers on the slow tracks during the middle overs. Smith has managed 536 runs in 14 ODI innings in India at an average of 41.2 and strike rate of 90.8 with four half centuries and one century.
The inclusion of Labuschagne stabilizes the middle order
Since being left out from the preliminary World Cup squad, Marnus Labuschagne has done everything right to get selected in the main squad. While most of the players were rested for the away South Africa series due to injuries, Labuschagne showed his class as he hit 464 runs in 10 ODI innings in 2023 - at an average of 51.6 and strike rate of 93.2 with two fifties and one century.
The Australian side is full of players who can win games with both bat and ball. Marcus Stonis has played a few games in 2023 - with seven wickets in six innings besides scoring 104 runs at a strike rate of 115.6. Maxwell too made a comeback to the game after his leg injury and managed to gain victory for Australia, picking up four wickets against India in the recently concluded ODI series.
However, Cameron Green hasn’t had a great run in 50-over games in 2023 - with just 89 runs in six innings at an average of 17.8 and strike rate of 70.6 besides grabbing just five wickets.
On the other hand, Alex Carey has been in good shape - with 185 runs in eight ODI innings in 2023 and he also has been phenomenal behind the stumps.
Most of these players have the experience of playing the IPL in India, which will help them in adjusting to conditions quickly as the tournament starts.
Australia sweats over Starc’s fitness as Zampa’s spin will be key factor
One of the biggest reasons behind Australia doing well in the last two World Cups has been the blistering form of Mitchell Starc - who is the fifth all-time leading wicket taker of the tournament, having pocketed 49 wickets at an average of 14.81 and strike rate of 19.12. Starc’s record of 27 wickets in World Cup 2019 is also the most for a bowler in a single WC edition.
He will be ably supported by leader Pat Cummins, who enjoys bowling in India with 22 ODI scalps in 15 innings at an economy of 5.05. His prowess with the new ball and ability to reverse swing once it gets old will make it tough for the batters. Josh Hazlewood too is a vital member of the pace squad with his accurate line and length. Even Sean Abbott, who is here as a back-up option, can prove to be deadly.
But the key factor will be Adam Zampa who will hold one end in the middle overs. The leg-spinner is the third highest wicket taker in ODIs since 2020 with 77 scalps in 37 innings at an average of 22.89 and strike rate of 25.9 at an economy of 5.29 and a best bowling figure of 5/35. He also has a decent record while playing in India, with 27 scalps in 16 innings at an economy of 5.73.
Lack of match practice could spoil Australia’s party
Australia’s lack of match practice for their main players could be the biggest threat for them going into the World Cup. Smith, Maxwell, Starc and Cummins- are making a return after their injury lay-off, and it takes time for anyone to get used to the hot and humid Indian conditions.
Starc bowled seven overs in the third ODI against India and his deliveries were sent all around the park, and a similar fate awaited Cummins. Australia will be praying that the couple of warm-up games have shaken off the rust from its star performers.
With most of the players - like Cummins, Smith, Warner, Maxwell, Starc, Hazlewood and Marsh - due to enter their late 30s by the time the next ODI World Cup in 2027 arrives, Australia would be looking to make it memorable with their sixth trophy.
Australia will begin their World Cup with a match against India on October 8 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.