Australia’s bench strength?

Posted: February 18, 2007 in australia, cricket, england, new zealand, ODI

The Australian cricket team has been playing with what looks like its bench, against New Zealand, in the Chappell Hadlee series. And they have got beaten twice in a row, and have also lost the number one position in international ODI ratings, to South Africa, in the process. They lost the first game big time – by 10 wickets, after getting bowled out for under 150. And then in the second game, they put up a big total of 336, and New Zealand chased it down!

It tells me a few things.
So much for Australia’s famed bench strength. Perhaps its not quite as great as its been made out to be. The little that I saw of these games, I could sense that there were just 2-3 batsmen who looked good (Hussey, Hayden – both regulars, and Hodge), and in bowling, there was not much to offer beyond McGrath and Bracken. Watson also got hit and Hogg got thumped big time. The rest of the guys looked quite ordinary.

A much stronger Australian side got beaten by England in the tri-series finals. Ponting, Lee, Clarke, Gilchrist were all there then. And still they lost – in straight games. Which proves that they are certainly beatable. Over the recent years, they had created a feeling of invincibility. Heck, that is out of the window now.

And I am going to stick my neck out and say that they will NOT win the World Cup. I am not saying who will win; at this time, all I am saying is that Australia won’t.

Which brings the question of the quality of the Australian team, over the next couple of years. With Warne, Langer and Martyn already gone, McGrath to go after the WC, there are going to be few new faces there.

Clarke and Hussey look like great inheritors of the Australian spirit. Of course, Ponting will be around for a while. And Hodge holds a lot of promise. There is of course, Hayden, Gilchrist (don’t know for how long, though) and Symonds should get fit soon. So the batting looks okay as long as all of these guys maintain decent form. But its the bowling that looks pretty vulnerable.

Lee appears to be the only real strike bowler. Bracken, Stuart Clarke in pace, or Hogg in spin, don’t look like matchwinners by any circumstances. I don’t know what has happened to Stuart McGill. He should finally get his chance without Warne’s shadow lurking behind him, and he can be a good prospect. But overall, if a team wants to beat Australia in the next year or two, they have their best chance in out-batting Australia, by going after a weak bowling attack.

Meanwhile, the eternal underdog down under, New Zealand, should be feeling fabulous, and so also the traditional arch rivals, England, both of them having beaten Australia, going into the World Cup!

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Comments
  1. Sportingo says:

    Greetings,

    I would like to speak with you about publishing some articles on the upcoming World Cup.

    Cheers,
    michelle@sportingo.com

  2. USC Trojan says:

    @spm: Yes, I had mentioned in one of my posts earlier that this upcoming season is the best chance for anyone to beat the Aussies. They are clearly in transition and while they have a good bench and lots of confident cricketers who can play at the international level, the chemistry is yet to be established and it is a vulnerable time for the team.

    But I have a sneaky suspicion that the transition period will not last too long. The system is in place and the domestic circuit is excellent to breed talent. Yes, they have lost to England and the Kiwis recently, but they would rather lose now with half strength team than in the World Cup.

    I think the gap between the Aussies and the rest of the world is too big for someone to jump in that quickly and take their position. Yes, South Africa have done something that no one has been able to do – get the ODI #1 ranking from the hands of the Aussies, but I can bet you it is temporary.

    Australia is too strong, mentally and bench-strength wise to really let up too much.

    They may not win the World Cup, but they will continue their dominance in world cricket in general for some time.

  3. SPM says:

    @usc trojan:
    Yes, you are right. Australia’s system does give them the edge. And the window of opportunity for any other team to get ahead, will be small. However at least the level of domination that Australia has been enjoying may not come that easy to them, under the circumstances. If another team, whether South Africa, India or whoever, wants to get a shot at the top position, and at least be a contender, this is their one big opportunity!

    @sportingo:
    I have written to you on email. Will love to explore the opportunity to write for sportingo.com.

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