ICC Champions Trophy 2013: Inexperience rife in Australia as they face arch-rivals England

Australia are in a transition phase and in the absence of Michael Clarke, George Bailey has a huge task ahead of him in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 tournament © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya
In an intriguing prelude to The Ashes, the arch rivals — Australia and England face-off at the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in Birmingham. While the coveted urn would play on their minds, their immediate task at hand is of vital importance as a win here could set the ball rolling for them. Australia in particular desperately need this victory as their recent One-Day International (ODI) record in England isn’t very encouraging.

Australia are in a transition phase and in the absence of Michael Clarke, George Bailey leads an inexperienced side in this big tournament. Michael Hussey’s retirement has not only left a huge void in their Test line-up, but also the ODI side. The onus of the finishing role has to be taken by someone else and they have to groom a player. There is a lot of inexperience in both departments, but there is copious promise and hope for the future.

Clarke has been ruled out of this game against England and it is a huge blow. In this side, Shane Watson is the only other player who has scored over 2000 ODI runs. In fact, if one brings David Warner into the equation, then only three players have recorded 1000 runs. Adam Voges, Phillip Hughes, Matthew Wade and Bailey are the other specialist batsmen in the side — whose collective experience is only 80 ODIs.

In the bowling department, Mitchell Johnson is the only bowler who has played over 100 ODIs. Xavier Doherty, the left arm spinner is second with 43 and Clint McKay is third with 42. Mitchell Starc and James Faulkner are the young guns and have shown great maturity in their opportunities. When compared to the batting, this department still has more experience and perhaps they may be the trump-cards.

Nevertheless, this is a dangerous One-Day unit and has a very good balance. They started off with a victory in the warm-up game against the West Indies, but stumbled against India. Even in that game, their bowlers had India reeling until Dinesh Karthik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni put on a double century stand for the sixth wicket. Australia’s batting remains a major concern and a lot hinges on Watson in the absence of Clarke. He is the kind of a player who can stay at the wicket and also attack.

The selectors seem to have picked this squad with the 2015 World Cup in mind. The Ashes may be in the horizon, but it is a different ball game. The young all-rounders such as Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell need to mould into the setup if they are to play the next World Cup. It is imperative that each player gets enough games in the lead-up to that tournament. If handled well and nurtured, this team can become a world-beating ODI unit again.

However, there is one thing they would like to change in England. On their last two ODI tours, they were beaten 3-2 and 4-0 by the home side. The once formidable Australia looked a shadow of themselves against the arch rivals. They arrive in England as a weaker unit when compared to those visits and the task may be tougher this time.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with cricketcountry.com and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)