After a tumultuous 2018 where they had slipped to their lowest ebb, defending champions Australia are now rejuvenated and will be going into the ICC 2019 World Cup with a lot of vigor. In back to back ODI series in Asia, they have beaten India in India 3-2 and then thumped Pakistan 5-0 in UAE earlier this year.
And now with the return of batting stars Steve Smith and David Warner to the squad, Aaron Finch’s Australia would be riding high on confidence for defending their World Cup crown in the event.
While Australia has a lot of strength – both in its batting and bowling – former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting feels that it will be spin bowling this time which will determine the country’s fate at the World Cup. Ponting, who has the experience of playing in 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 editions, and winning three in a row from 1999-2007, firmly believes that spin will play a vital role for Australia in the upcoming event.
“The thing that will define Australia’s success in the World Cup is, one, how well they bowl spin and, two, how well they play it,” Ponting was quoted as saying to The Telegraph recently. “That’s been their Achilles’ heel the last 12 or 18 months. With [Adam] Zampa bowling well now, Nathan Lyon’s obviously in the squad, and Glenn Maxwell’s done a good job with the ball whenever he’s played,” he added.
Ponting’s assessment is pretty sound. Zampa has been bowling well these last few months and has emerged a match-winner for Australia already, picking up 18 wickets in just 11 ODIs in 2019. Zampa has himself stated that he is confident of performing well at the World Cup and bowling in tandem with his partner Nathan Lyon. Off-spinner Lyon, of course, is an experienced campaigner now and if he can find his rhythm on the hard surfaces in England, he might be a difficult bowler to face. Thus, the dual spin threat of Zampa and Lyon might be the most underrated and useful factor for Australia this World Cup.
Australia also has the services of all-rounder Glenn Maxwell who has taken on a more significant role with the ball lately. Maxwell’s off-spin bowling has been useful in the middle overs for Australia in the recent past as he has gone for an economy of 5.43 in 2019 in 12 innings. Maxwell’s little spurts of off-spin might help Australia in containing the opposition a bit in the middle stage when the going is a little tight for the others.
Another factor that will be interesting to note in the World Cup is how Australia’s batsmen play spin bowling. With so many star spinners from around the world who will feature in the tournament, Australia, which has traditionally been weak against quality spin, will have to be at their best while facing them.
” And I think some of our middle order are probably slightly better players of spin now than they were 12 or 18 months ago. With Warner there now and Steve Smith coming back in, the middle order looks a lot better against spin bowling than it probably was,” Ricky Ponting was quoted as saying.
It hence feels like Australia has their bases covered and is also well-equipped this time for the spin battle – both on how they bowl it and how they play it. If they do manage to conquer this department and leave a stamp in the World Cup, then they would have added a fascinating chapter in their illustrious history.